Pregnancy is a time of great joy and excitement. However, when a global pandemic affects the world, expectant moms must take extreme caution and be vigilant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020. According to infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, all pregnant women should be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19.
Symptoms may include:
This list is not all inclusive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Currently there are no vaccinations to prevent COVID-19 infection, but they are being researched and tested. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends:
Dr. Christopher Robinson MD, MSCR, FACOG is a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist and a member of Project Alive & Kicking’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC.) He recommends the following guidelines for his pregnant patients:
Dr. Robinson’s encourages his patients to visit his Facebook page with recommendations for going shopping and outside the home. He advises, “So much will change as rates of COVID-19 go up.”
Dr. Robinson shares PAK’s My Empowered Pregnancy Checklist brochure (in English & Spanish) and PAK’s Mom & Baby Tracking Chart (in English & Spanish) with his patients. He’s a proponent of PAK’s app ME Preg and encourages his patients to keep track of their pregnancies especially movement counting using ME Preg.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 globally, CDC, WHO, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pregnancy guidelines are constantly changing.
Pregnant women must be proactive. They need to be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their babies. Expectant mothers should be extremely attentive to their health if they have a preexisting condition such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma to name a few.
Dr. Robinson’s offices are following ACOG’s algorithm for COVID-19 and continuing their usual standards of care with seeing moms on a routine basis. If patients are “High Risk” they may be asked to check their blood pressure and weight at home. Ultrasounds are given depending on the indication such as decreased fetal movements. Movement/Kick Counting is done routinely in the third trimester.
Experts anticipate changes in obstetrical practices; such as fewer prenatal visits and faster postpartum discharges. Dr. Robinson has now been using Telemedicine for three to four weeks for visits that do not require an ultrasound.
As COVID-19 cases continues to surge, it’s feared that hospitals might soon ban visitors from their maternity wards, as several hospitals did briefly in New York and are currently doing so in Los Angeles. At this time in Charleston, South Carolina one partner or spouse can be present for delivery assuming they do not screen positive for COVID-19 according to Dr. Robinson.
A CDC edict recommends that if a mother shows symptoms of COVID-19, she will be separated and quarantined from her baby. “The CDC is recommending a seven-day separation, but it’s a tough one, and it keeps changing,” said Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai and an expert in maternal fetal medicine. “The patient can refuse, but we are hoping to encourage her to accept.”
Every pregnant mom must be informed of how COVID-19 is impacting her hospital and how these changes may impact her carefully thought out birth plan.
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, for information on how COVID-19 may impact breastfeeding, contact your local hospital, breastfeeding center or visit the Breastfeeding Center of Charleston on Facebook for the most current guidelines.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Antiviral treatments, antimalarials and vaccinations for the COVID-19 infection are being researched and tested now. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.