Pregnancy and COVID-19 Q&A
Pregnant mamas, do you have questions about COVID-19? We asked local OBGYN, Dr. Christie Cobb, to break down the current situation for parents-to-be like you.
**Disclaimer: Medical guidelines for pregnancy and COVID-19 are changing daily. Please call your doctor if you have any specific questions or concerns. Dr. Beck’s responses were up-to-date as of 3.31.20**
LRF: Do pregnant women need to take extra precaution beyond healthy handwashing and social distancing?
DC: Those two strategies are the most important, but I would also add women should really practice avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
LRF: Has there been time to study the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, unborn fetuses, newborns or breastfeeding?
DC: The physiological changes of pregnancy do predispose women to respiratory complications from viral illnesses, but the current evidence does not point to pregnant women being more susceptible to COVID-19 or more likely to develop a severe pneumonia.
As of today (3/31/20), the limited data suggests that there is no evidence that women who develop COVID-19 late in pregnancy transmit it vertically, or across the placenta, to their unborn fetus.
In addition, to date, there is insufficient evidence regarding the safety of breastfeeding. Obviously, if the mother is critically sick, separation appears the safest option. Women can still express or pump breastmilk during this time in order to establish a milk supply.
More patients are likely concerned about what to do if they are asymptomatic or only slightly symptomatic at the time of delivery. I believe the individual risk and benefits of breastfeeding and rooming-in should be discussed by the mother and her physician, taking into consideration the current policies of the facility in which she delivers.
LRF: Do you recommend any COVID-19-influenced changes for parents pre- or post-birth?
DC: It goes without saying that now is the time to quit smoking! Also, since patients with comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are at higher risk of death, now is the time to focus on preventing and reversing these diseases.
LRF: What hospital procedure changes should Little Rock moms expect who deliver during the pandemic?
DC: Each hospital has their own policies, and they remain dynamic as this pandemic progresses. I would encourage each mom to talk to her health care provider about what the current guidelines and best practices are at the facility where they expect to deliver.
LRF: Do you recommend any relaxation tips or techniques for pregnant women who are stressed out by the news?
DC: I often query my patients about what their support network will be before, during and after delivery. I encourage women (and their partners) to seek out social support and check in regularly with these friends and family members to discuss their experiences. We are all in this together!
It is also ok to schedule “unplugged” time as breaks from social media and the news. The weather is beautiful, so take advantage of these warm sunny days to walk and get fresh air. Nature is so renewing and spring reminds us that life always exists in cycles.
Finally, I encourage women who are now working from home to add structure to their day. Self-care with routines, healthy food choices and good sleep hygiene can go a long way to combat stress and anxiety.
LRF: Would you recommend continuing to try to conceive during the pandemic?
DC: Creating or expanding a family is a very personal decision. While there is not often a “perfect” time, I really encourage women and their partners to take this opportunity to make family planning a values-based decision. Pregnancy is physically, mentally and emotionally very taxing. With the uncertainty of the effect of this virus on pregnancy and newborns, as well as the uncertainty of the economy, it is important for couples to establish a plan for how they will counter these uncertainties and stressors. As always, women with other health issues should absolutely consult their physician before trying to conceive to ensure their health is optimized prior to pregnancy.