Dr. Phillip Heine, Chair of OBGYN Services, talks with BestHealth and answers some of the big questions about being pregnant during this unprecedented time of social distancing and daily virus updates. Listen to his thoughts on risks of pregnant women, prevention measures an expectant mom can take and more.
Disclaimer: learn more about the latest developments on visitor restrictions and testing.
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 COVID-19. Pregnant women are likely 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 not any more severe than anyone else in that age group who has COVID virus. Although more data would be helpful, as it stands right now, it looks like pregnant women are not at a greater risk to get this novel virus or to have more severe illness with COVID-19.
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. 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. However, if you tell your physician that you have a low grade fever and feel like you have the flu, they will most likely tell you to treat your symptoms, stay at home and quarantine yourself for 7 days from when the symptoms started and at least 72 hours without a fever.
What can a pregnant woman expect from her scheduled OB visits right now during the Coronavirus pandemic?
It’s 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 are coming to the hospital, the whole family still needs to practice safe social distancing while making that journey. As laboring moms come into the hospital, they will be screened to make sure they, nor their partner, has symptoms of the Coronavirus. If the mother is in labor but 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. If the laboring mom is COVID-19 positive, they will not be allowed a visitor in that situation because they could transmit the virus. 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.
What COVID-19 medical treatments are safe for pregnant women?
I want to stress that we don’t have treatment for COVID-19 beyond supportive care. However, there are a number of treatments that are under investigation. Good news is that the vast majority of these treatments have been utilized in pregnancy and are completely safe for mom and baby. If these treatments are found to be beneficial for treatment of Coronavirus, it is likely we will be able to use in pregnant patients.