Being pregnant is not enough! Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that pregnant women might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women. Plenty of women have safely had babies during COVID — you can, too. Take extra precautions while pregnant, during delivery and afterwards, and stock your mind with answers to pressing questions:
Q: What Should I do if I am pregnant and diagnosed with COVID-19?
A: If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your ob-gyn or other health care professional. The current CDC advice for all people with COVID-19 includes the following: Stay home except to get medical care (keep those prenatal check-ups!) and avoid public transportation. Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical care right away if you feel worse, or think it’s an emergency. Continue to wash your hands often and social distance.
Q: Should I change my delivery plan if I have COVID-19?
A: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that, in most cases, pregnant women with COVID-19 do not need to change the timing or delivery method of their birth plans. Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about your birth plan. In most cases, the timing and method of delivery (vaginal birth or cesarean birth) do not need to be changed. Women who are sick probably do not need a cesarean birth. Your hospital or birth center may be adjusting their policies. For example, there may be changes to the number of visitors allowed and how long you will stay in the hospital. Check with your hospital and ob-gyn or other health care professional about your birth plan. Be sure to mention if you are planning to have a doula with you during childbirth.
Q: Where will my baby stay after delivery if I have COVID-19?
A: You and your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of different rooming options at your hospital or birth center. Things to consider include the best way to reduce the risk of infection for the baby, your health, the baby’s health, if you would like to breastfeed, and what you think is right for you and your baby.
If you are sick, the CDC recommends the separation of the baby and mother for the health and safety of you both. If you room together, your baby may stay in your room if you decide this is best, or if your hospital or birth center does not have separate space for your baby to stay. Wash your hands before touching your baby. You also should use a face mask or covering when holding your baby, including during feeding. Do not put a mask or covering over the baby’s face. The staff may keep the baby’s crib at least six feet away from you. The staff also may use a clear plastic crib that is enclosed and keeps an even temperature. If you choose temporary separation — your baby may stay in a different room.
Q: Can COVID-19 pass to a baby through breast milk?
A: Researchers are still learning if COVID-19 can pass through breast milk and cause infection in the baby. As of June 23, 2020, the World Health Organization reports there is not sufficient data to conclude the vertical transmission of COVID-19 through breastfeeding. Most information shows that it is safe to feed breast milk to your baby when you have COVID-19. Remember that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies. Breast milk also helps protect babies from infections, including infections of the ears, lungs, and digestive system. For these reasons, having COVID-19 should not stop you from giving your baby breast milk. If you plan to breastfeed, talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional. Make your wishes known so that you can begin to express milk or breastfeed before you take your baby home.