COVID-19 Pandemic and Pregnancy

Mar 25, 2020 | Life Issues, Pregnancy

Our go-to guide for pregnant moms, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” does not have a chapter on pregnancy during a COVID-19 pandemic. This is new, scary and overwhelming. Pregnant moms are watching the news and asking, “How does this affect me? How might this affect my baby?” There is very little in the news about the risks to pregnant women and newborns when it comes to the spread and impact because we are still in a learning process on how this virus works.

Pregnancy does not seem to be a major risk factor. Experts have determined that those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes and compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of getting sick and being more severely ill. Most pregnant women do not seem to fall into this higher risk group. Pregnancy is considered an immunocompromised state, but not in the same sense as someone who is on chemotherapy.

“The good news is that thus far there hasn’t been any indication that pregnant women are more severely affected” by the novel virus, says Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory Healthcare and a senior author of a prepress review paper slated to publish in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. (1)

These assessments of the new coronavirus are based in large part on a study published online last month in The Lancet of nine pregnant women in their third trimester in Wuhan, China, who had pneumonia caused by COVID-19. None of the women developed severe illness, and all of their babies were born healthy. “According to the current evidence in China, the clinical performance of pregnant women with COVID-19 is consistent with that of ordinary adults,” says Jie Qiao, director of the National Clinical Research Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology Disease in China. (2)

Risk to newborns remains low, but not zero. The CDC reports in recent cases of infected pregnant women, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk. That however doesn’t mean that newborns cannot catch the virus. (3)

What expectant moms can do right now is to follow the guidelines that experts have been giving:

  • Socially distance
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes
  • Use tissues and discard after coughing/sneezing
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Eat well
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Stay active
  • Take your prenatal vitamins
  • Get the annual influenza vaccine if you haven’t already
  • Communicate with your OB/GYN regarding any signs of illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath
  • Stay informed from credible, medically verifiable sources during your pregnancy
  • Stay informed of changes in your own community from your local public health department


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