By Guest Blogger Phillips Heine, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Executive Director of Women’s Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health

Dr. Phillips Heine provided an overview of pregnancy and COVID-19 last April. As we continue to learn more about the new coronavirus and its impact on pregnancy, Dr. Phillips Heine took some time to give us an update on the many questions often asked about being pregnant during this pandemic.

For more information about the Wake Forest Baptist Health please visit our website: Obstetrics and Gynecology and The Birth Center. If you would like breastfeeding support, please reach out to our international board-certified lactation consultants at The Mother’s Nursing Nook.

Are pregnant women at higher risk for COVID-19?

Based on the data we have about the novel Coronavirus we are reassured that pregnant women do not appear to be at a higher risk for acquiring COVID-19 than other women of similar age range. Pregnant women are probably at the same risk as the general population.

Are pregnant women at increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19?

Again, based on the data we currently have around this novel virus, the data in pregnancy indicates the virus is only slightly more severe for pregnant women compared to others of a similar age. This is characterized by a very small increase in the number of women who require ICU admission and ventilation support among pregnant women. However, the overall rates of these morbidities is very low in both groups and the risk of death is no higher for pregnant women.

I’m pregnant, how can I protect myself from COVID-19?

If you can avoid exposure to the virus, you won’t get the virus. If you can, please stay at home. If you do need to work or travel, you need to practice social distancing and wear a mask. It is best for the whole family to avoid exposure to protect those who are pregnant.

What should I do if I am pregnant and experience symptoms of a respiratory illness?

Call your physician’s office to review your symptoms with them as they will likely want to arrange for you to be tested. If you have significant symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or symptoms of dehydration such as dizziness when standing, your physician will most likely have you come in to be evaluated in person and consideration be given to hospital admission. However, if you tell your physician that you have a low grade fever and feel like you have the flu, they will most likely arrange for you to be tested at an out-patient testing facility. Additionally, they will tell you to treat your symptoms, stay at home and quarantine yourself for 10 days from when the symptoms started and at least 24 hours without a fever.

What can a pregnant woman expect from her scheduled OB visits right now during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Its very important that pregnant women go to their regularly scheduled appointments. Doctors’ offices are now screening all patients who are coming in for appointments to make sure exposure to COVID-19 is limited for patients and the care team.

Can COVID-19 be passed to her unborn child?

The data we have on this right now indicates that if a pregnant woman is sick around the time of delivery, it is going to be very rare that it is transmitted to the child at that point in time. However, we don’t have data right now around transmission to the baby if a mom gets COVID-19 early or mid-way through the pregnancy. With other virus that are within the Coronavirus family, as well as many other viruses, that can infect pregnant women, the vast majority of the time these viruses do not transmit to the baby. If the virus does transmit to the baby, it doesn’t usually cause any problems.

Can the Coronavirus pass to my breastmilk?

The Coronavirus does not appear to be in breastmilk so we don’t think that is a mode of transmission. Even if a pregnant woman tested positive for COVID-19 and then delivered her baby, the new recommendation is that we separate the baby but the mom should continue to pump her breastmilk so the baby can be fed with mom’s milk. Breastmilk is like medicine for a newborn. It has many benefits, including lowering the risk of getting a viral respiratory infection.

Is it safe for me to come to the hospital to give birth?

If mom is in active labor and is coming to the hospital, the whole family still needs to wear masks and practice safe social distancing while making that journey. All laboring moms that come into the hospital will be tested for COVID infection and screened to make sure they, nor their partner, has symptoms of the Coronavirus. If the mother is in labor and is either test positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 infection, she will still be brought up to Labor & Delivery, but she will be brought to rooms that have been designated for COVID-19 infection.

All of our laboring patients now are isolated to their rooms and will be limited to one helping visitor. We are trying to make the experience as safe as possible at Wake Forest Baptist Health. We want to limit exposure to our patients and our providers.

Phillips Heine, MD

What COVID-19 medical treatments are safe for pregnant women?

There are still no FDA approved medications for the treatment of COVID infections. In early studies, dexamethasone and remdesivir have been shown to be beneficial for patients with significant COVID infections. Both are considered safe and appropriate for use in pregnancy.

  • Sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health


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