The Latest on COVID-19 and Pregnancy!

Shannon M. Clark, MD
September 9, 2020
The Latest on COVID-19 and Pregnancy!

This has been an unconventional summer, to say the least, and it has been an unconventional time as a physician! That’s why, even though I’m on vacation, I want to share this important update regarding COVID-19 pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.

With everything going on regarding Coronavirus, I wish I could say that, as a physician, I have all the answers. However, this is truly unprecedented, for myself and even for providers who have been in the field longer than me.

I know as a patient you may want your medical provider to have all the answers, but I encourage you to keep an open mind as we continue to move forward. As physicians, we are learning as we go, doing the best we can with what we have as information changes.

If you are pregnant, the best thing you can do is have clear on-going communication with your obstetrics provider. Because information is different now than it was in March, and it will be different in September, be sure to discuss where you will deliver, who can be there, and what visitors who can be there as you get close to your delivery date.

Restrictions are in flex, and you need to stay aware (and flexible) of how that will affect your delivery.

I put together this video to review the most recent information that has been put out by ACOG- the governing body for the field of obstetrics.

If you are more of a visual learner, and would like to read the information I share in the video, click here. This is the exact information obstetrics providers are following at this time. It can be helpful to help you as a patient understand more about all aspects of COVID-19 and your health.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions and answers pulled directly from the ACOG report

How does COVID-19 affect pregnant women?

  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 may be more likely than nonpregnant women with COVID-19 to need care in an intensive care unit (ICU) or need a ventilator (for breathing support).
  • Pregnant women who are Black, Hispanic, or Asian may have a higher risk of severe illness or need ICU care more often than other pregnant women. This is likely caused by social and economic inequity, not biological differences.

What should pregnant women do to avoid the coronavirus?

Pregnant women should take steps to stay healthy, including

  • keeping your prenatal care visits
  • limiting contact with other people as much as possible
  • staying home as much as possible
  • staying at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
  • wearing a mask or cloth face covering in public and any other needed protection while at work
  • washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • cleaning hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if you can’t wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • having a good stock of essential supplies, including at least 30 days of any medications (so you don’t have to go out as often)

Would a home birth be safer while COVID-19 is spreading?

ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center. COVID-19 has not changed this recommendation. Even the healthiest pregnancies can have problems arise with little or no warning during labor and delivery. If problems happen, a hospital setting can give you and your baby the best care in a hurry. Keep in mind that hospitals, hospital-based birth centers, and accredited freestanding birth centers follow strict procedures to clean and control infection.

Can COVID-19 pass to a baby through breast milk?

Researchers are still learning if COVID-19 can pass through breast milk and cause infection in the baby. 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

Again, this is such an unprecedented time. The best thing is to continue to communicate with your obstetrician and care team, as well as to stay educated through emails like these and the information shared through ACOG.

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Follow Shannon on TikTok @tiktokbabydoc, Facebook @babiesafter35, and Instagram @babiesafter35.

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