These times are trying, confusing and weigh heavily on many. However, a group left even more confused are those soon-to-be moms navigating both their pregnancy journeys and the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have asked questions like: Can the virus pass on to babies? Does pregnancy make you more susceptible to the virus? How can pregnant women avoid contracting the virus?
Can COVID-19 pass on to my baby?
Since COVID-19 is very new to health care providers and researchers, there is not yet a firm answer on whether or not a baby’s long-term health could be affected by the virus. However, as of now, there is no proof that COVID-19 can affect the baby prior to birth.
“Studies conducted in China found that the virus did not transfer from mom to baby in utero,” Dr. Kracht said. “It has also not been detected in breast milk. However, it is important to know that it is a new virus, which means we still have much to learn how it behaves in pregnancy.”
No, thus far the data shows that pregnant women are not more susceptible to COVID-19, nor have they been found to become more ill with this particular virus. However, Dr. Kracht says that if we look at other respiratory diseases such as influenza, pregnant women are more likely to get sicker, require hospitalization or even an ICU admission.
“Because of this, it is best to play it very safe,” he said. “Follow all of the steps to protect yourself from COVID-19. Wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer, make sure you are wiping down all surfaces and then abide by social distancing guidelines. Prevention is key right now.”
How can I avoid getting COVID-19?
Dr. Kracht says that it is important to note that the virus is transmitted through droplets that are in the air, especially when someone coughs or sneezes. Keeping your distance minimizes the risk of inhalation and handwashing protects you from virus that lives on surfaces.
“If you have any symptoms of fever, especially with a cough or shortness of breath, you need to call your provider right away,” he said. “Even if you have a routine appointment already planned, if you start to have symptoms, please let us know in advance so we can discuss what you can do next.”
Experts in OB care are learning that if you have a healthy pregnancy, it is often safer for you to use telehealth for certain visits during this time of social distancing. At LMH Health, all of our OB providers are happy to offer this service via conferencing apps you can use with on your phone or computer.
What if I am ill with COVID-19 when I go into labor?
We want to acknowledge that this can sound scary. Your providers will be there for you every step of the way during your labor and delivery process.
Dr. Kracht said when it comes to delivering while having COVID-19, unless you are really ill, the main concern is what can happen immediately after birth. If you have COVID-19, you would be contagious and this could spread to your baby, just like it could to anyone. Our staff will do everything we can to minimize that exposure while keeping in mind how special this time is for bonding between mother and baby.
“Something important to note is that having or being suspected of having COVID-19 does not prevent a vaginal birth,” Dr. Kracht said. “Having the virus does not automatically mean you need a C-section.”
LMH Health is bringing a variety of our parenting and prenatal classes to you in an online format for free. Participate in our evidenced-based curriculum from the comfort of your own home through classes such as Childbirth Online, Breastfeeding Online and Baby Care Online. Though these classes are being offered free of charge, registration is required. Please visit LMH.org for more information and to register.
Dr. Kracht said one of the most important things to know is that we will be here for you. Through every step and with all questions and concerns, the team at LMH Health and Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists will be by your side to help navigate through your pregnancy journey.