COVID-19 has disrupted our worlds, and many who may have been considering pregnancy decided to wait until the pandemic was over. With COVID-19 lingering on, you may decide it is time to start your pregnancy journey. Likely, you still have questions regarding COVID-19 and how it affects pregnancy and delivery. Recently, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) published new information regarding pregnancy and COVID-19 that we are happy to share.
What should I do if I am pregnant and think I have COVID-19?
If you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus and have a fever or cough, call your ob-gyn or other health care professional for advice.
If you have emergency warning signs, call 911 or go to the hospital right away. Emergency warning signs include the following:
- Having a hard time breathing or shortness of breath (more than what has been normal for you during pregnancy)
- Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest
- Sudden confusion
- Being unable to respond to others
- Blue lips or face
What should I do if I am pregnant and diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the advice from the 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. 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.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home.
- Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care
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.
ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is in a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center. Your hospital or birth center may be adjusting its 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 professionals about your birth plan. Be sure to mention if you are planning to have a doula with you during childbirth.
How many visitors can I have during and after birth?
Check with your hospital or birth center. They may limit the number of visitors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The number of visitors you can have may depend on local and state recommendations and how quickly COVID-19 is spreading in your area.
Some hospitals and birth centers may consider doulas to be visitors. Check the hospital or birth center policy if you are planning to have a doula with you.
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.
What will happen during labor and delivery if I have COVID-19?
While you are in the hospital or birth center, you should wear a mask if you have COVID-19. But when you are pushing during labor, wearing a mask may be difficult. For this reason, your health care team should wear masks or other protective breathing equipment. They also may take other steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including wearing goggles or face shields.
Where will my baby stay after delivery if I have COVID-19?
There are many benefits to having your baby stay in the same room as you after delivery, even if you have COVID-19. For example, rooming together may help you bond with your baby and help you start breastfeeding if desired.
You also may choose for your baby to stay separated from you, such as in the hospital nursery. But current reports suggest that the risk of a baby getting COVID-19 does not change based on whether the baby stays in the mother’s room or in a separate room. If you room together, the baby’s crib may be kept at least 6 feet away from you. Some facilities use clear plastic cribs that are enclosed and keep an even temperature.
Staying in a separate room may be encouraged if you are very sick or your baby is at a high risk of getting very sick. If you choose to be separated and you plan to breastfeed, you can ask for a breast pump and use it to express (pump) milk. This will allow someone who is not sick to bottle-feed breast milk to your baby. Pumping also may help you maintain your milk supply for when you begin breastfeeding.
Talk with your health care team about the options at your hospital or birth center well before your due date. Together you can discuss what you think is right for you and your baby. Be sure to talk about the best ways to:
- reduce the risk of infection for your baby
- support the long-term health of you and your baby
- help you start breastfeeding if desired
Resources for You
We encourage you to read the entire article from the American Council of Obstetrics and Gynecologists containing everything you need to know from the time you are considering pregnancy to postpartum care.
Request an appointment with Voyage Healthcare to receive your COVID-19 vaccine!