*Information on the coronavirus is developing quickly. This post may become outdated. Please visit the CDC’s website or call MotherToBaby at 866-626-6847 to learn the newest information as it relates to pregnancy.
With information about the COVID-19 pandemic coming out daily, you may wonder where you fit in all of it as a pregnant woman.
Are there extra precautions you should take? Are you at a higher risk? What happens if you get it? Is it possible to transfer it to your baby? How can you protect your newborn?
The questions seem endless, but we’ve got some answers.
Before we jump into the information, we should acknowledge that coronavirus 2019 is a new virus and there’s a lot experts don’t know yet. That’s why it’s important to keep up-to-date. By the beginning of April, COVID-19 was detected in 210 countries, with over 1.5 million cases worldwide. Experts predict that, in some areas, our new physical distancing habits could last for months, perhaps until a vaccine is found.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large group of related viruses with symptoms ranging from the common cold symptoms to more serious conditions.
Coronaviruses are common and usually cause mild illnesses, like the common cold. You’ll hear the recent outbreak referred to as a “novel” coronavirus, which simply means a “new” virus that didn’t exist in humans before. This includes COVID-19, which is causing the 2019/2020 coronavirus disease. People who get COVID-19 are cared for differently since it’s significantly more serious than the common cold or flu.
Coronavirus 2019 Facts
New information about COVID-19 is coming out daily. Here’s what we know so far.
Fast Facts on COVID-19 Origin:
- The new disease was first identified in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
- It’s related to the SARS-associated virus that caused an outbreak in 2002-2003.
- Some coronaviruses affect only animals and rarely spread to humans. It’s suspected that COVID-19 originated in animals and transferred to humans.
- The CDC says there’s no reason to think that pets in the U.S. are a source of COVID-19. It appearsthat dogs can get COVID-19, but they don’t get sick from it or pass it onto others.
- Despite its origin, viruses do not target a specific race or ethnic background. Educate yourself and others to stop stigma.
Fast Facts on the Spreading of COVID-19:
- Some viruses are highly contagious while others are harder to spread. It appears that COVID-19 spreads easier. One problem is that it can be spread before it causes symptoms, meaning we could infect others without knowing we’re infected ourselves.
- Someone who has the COVID-19 virus can spread it to others. Patients with the virus or with symptoms need to self-isolate at home or in a hospital to prevent infecting others. How long the illness lasts can vary. For that reason, how long a person is self isolated for is decided on a case-by-case basis by doctors and experts.
- While there isn’t enough information to be sure, the CDC says it’s unlikely that the virus can be spread from products or packages shipped from China over days or weeks.
Fast Facts on COVID-19 Illness:
- Experts don’t fully understand the effects of the 2019 coronavirus disease.
- Experts base their current knowledge on how the virus has acted in other countries, our current cases, and similar viruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Both caused severe illness and death.
- Reported illnesses from COVID-19 have ranged from mild to severe, including death.
- People who are higher at risk include the elderly and people with asthma, higher risk illnesses and HIV.
Fast Facts on 2019 Coronavirus Vaccine and Treatment
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but scientists across the world are racing to develop one.
- Some leaders, such as Canadian Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau, have said life won’t fully go back to “normal” until a vaccine is found.
- The best way to prevent illness is to prevent exposure to the virus, including physical distancing and staying at home unless you need necessities.
- There is currently no specific COVID-19 treatment but experts are testing drugs to determine their effectiveness and safety. Infected people receive supportive care to manage symptoms. Unless a case is high-risk or severe, many infected people are asked to stay at home instead of being hospitalized.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 Symptoms
It’s important to know that you can have COVID-19 and not show any symptoms for 14 days. That means that you can pass it onto others without knowing you have it yourself. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe and can result in death. Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
If you experience emergency symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. These include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
The CDC states that this isn’t a full list. If you experience any life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency care. This may include people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, but who develop more severe symptoms during their home self-isolation.
Limited reports of children with COVID-19 suggest the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Since these symptoms mimic a common cold, you may be wondering if you should be tested. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and experience symptoms.
Health professionals decide when to test people on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone who shows symptoms will be tested; some will just be asked to stay in their home and self-isolate from family members. If you want to be tested for COVID-19, call your state or local health department or medical provider. Although the number of tests is increasing, it still may be difficult to get tested.
After taking the test, you’ll receive a negative or positive result. It’s possible to test negative during the early stages of the infection.
How to Prevent Coronavirus During Pregnancy
Since there is not a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC has made specific recommendations:
- Stay at home unless for necessities (ex. groceries and medication).
- Have one designated person go outside the home for groceries and limit trips.
- Avoid public transit.
- Practice physical distancing, meaning that you shouldn’t visit others or have others visit you. Think of it like this: Your house/family members are in your bubble. If you let someone else into that bubble, you burst it.
- If you go outside for a walk, keep at least 6 feet between you and other people. If you’re in an area where this isn’t possible, leave.
- Avoid house members who are frequently outside the home (ex. essential workers).
- Don’t touch your nose, eyes or mouth.
- Frequently clean surfaces.
- Put tissues directly in the trash.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, rubbing them for at least 20 seconds.
- Frequently sanitize toys and baby dishes.
- Do not “clean” dropped pacifiers with your mouth when no water is available.
- Use hand sanitizer when soap is not available. Attach sanitizers to strollers or your purse if you leave the home.
It’s worth mentioning that if a vaccine for COVID-19 is introduced, there’s no guarantee it will be suitable or accessible for all pregnant women. For more information about this, read In the race for coronavirus vaccines, don’t leave pregnant women behind.
Should I Wear a Face Mask?
CDC’s advice on wearing a facial-covering has changed. Before, only sick people were recommended to wear one. Now, because more people are infected and may not know it, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face-covering in public settings where physical distancing is difficult. This could include grocery stores, public transit or anywhere outside your home that you can’t avoid. Although surgical medical masks and N-95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, there’s other options. Many people are making their own face masks by sewing fabric. The CDC has instructions on how to make a DIY face-covering using a t-shirt.
Even though the recommendations on face-coverings have changed, there’s still a few very important points to keep in mind:
- Facial-coverings are advised to slow the spread by stopping the transmission of it by people who may not know they’re infected.
- They should not be used on anyone under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
- You should always put on a face-covering with clean hands.
- You should always wash your hands after taking off the covering.
- When removing the covering, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- You should frequently wash the mask and make sure it’s completely dried.
- Facial-coverings don’t replace physical distancing. You must still keep 6 feet between you and other people.
Can Coronavirus 2019 Effect Pregnancy?
There is not enough information to say whether pregnant women are more affected by or more likely to get COVID-19.
However, we know that during pregnancy, women experience physical health and immunity changes. This makes them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections in general. For example, pregnant women are more likely to get the seasonal flu. Expecting women may also experience more severe symptoms and outcomes.
Although we don’t have much information specific to COVID-19, the CDC can predict effects based on those of similar viruses, such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. With both, pregnant women were at an increased risk for severe illness and death. Miscarriage and stillbirth were observed in some of those cases. This may be because high fevers in the first trimester can increase birth defect risk.
Based on limited information, the CDC says there have been reports of adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. However, they can’t be sure whether this was caused by the virus.
To prevent getting COVID-19, pregnant women should follow the advice of local public health officials. In most areas, this means staying home unless you need groceries or need to attend a medical appointment. To be extra careful, get another family member to do grocery runs for you and try to limit trips. If you have to go out, use a face-covering.
Can COVID-19 Effect Newborns?
COVID-19 is believed to mainly be spread by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. It’s not yet known whether a pregnant woman with the virus can spread it to her fetus through other ways.
With that being said, the limited information we have specifically for COVID-19 suggests that it may not be transferred. Out of the recent babies born to infected mothers and published in peer-reviewed literature, none of them tested positive. The virus was not detected in breastmilk either.
The Chinese study involved 9 infected pregnant women who had C-sections. It’s still unclear if it could be transmitted through vaginal birth. Since all the women were in their third trimester, we also don’t know if babies would be affected in the first or second trimesters.
Contrary to that study, the CDC says a very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. However, we don’t know if these babies got sick in utero or after birth. There’s also another late March 2020 study, which hints that utero transmission may be possible since certain antibody levels are elevated.
It’s also important to know that after birth, a newborn is susceptible to COVID-19. Infected mothers must be isolated from their newborns until they’re cleared of the virus. This is difficult, but it’s necessary to keep the baby safe.
Experts don’t know if novel coronavirus has any long-term effects on infants born to infected mothers.
There is also no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. Most cases have been reported in adults.
Can COVID-19 Be Passed on Through Breastmilk?
Even if you give birth without COVID-19, you may be worried that you’ll get it later without showing symptoms and accidentally infect the baby through breastmilk. As stated above, in the limited studies available, COVID-19 was not detected in breast milk. However, there’s not enough information to know whether it can spread this way.
If you’re sick or you suspect you’re sick, you and your healthcare provider will determine whether it’s appropriate to breastfeed. If you choose to breastfeed, the CDC recommends wearing a facemask and washing your hands before each feeding. Another option is to express milk and have another family member feed the baby. Or, you can express just to maintain milk supply so you’re ready to breastfeed when you’re better.
Even If You’re Not Sick, COVID-19 Affects You
Even if you’re not sick, you’ve probably noticed that COVID-19 has affected you. If your pregnancy check-up isn’t urgent, you’ve probably been asked to attend the appointment over phone or video call only. In-person appointments are now reserved for urgent needs or tests.
When you go in for a mandatory appointment, it’s wise to wait in your car instead of in a waiting room. This limits your chances of coming into contact with the virus.
You should talk to your doctor about how your birth will change and what you can expect. To prevent the spread of the virus, many hospitals are limiting the people allowed in the birth room. You should have this information beforehand so you can plan accordingly.
Even if you aren’t infected, you must still participate in physical distancing after the baby arrives if your local health authority is still recommending it. That means not being a visitor or having visitors over. It can be difficult knowing that non-live-in family members can’t meet your baby yet. However, keep in mind that born babies can get COVID-19, so the “rules” apply to them too.
After birth, you should also talk to your pediatrician about ways to keep your baby safe during her first visits.
Helpful COVID-19 Resources:
- CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary
- CDC’s Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19
- CDC’s COVID-19 Symptoms
- CDC’s Pregnant Women and COVID-19 FAQ
- CDC’s Children and COVID-19 FAQ
Summary of COVID-19 and Pregnancy
COVID-19 is now considered a pandemic. It’s unclear how the illness affects pregnant women or newborns. The evidence so far suggests that expecting women may be more susceptible and more likely to experience severe symptoms, including death. The good news is that limited research suggests that it isn’t passed onto the baby or through breastmilk.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. To prevent yourself from getting it, follow the advice of local public health officials. In most areas, this includes staying at home unless you need necessities. When you are outside, limit trips, wear a facemask and keep 6 feet between you and non-house members. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor and ask about the next steps. If you’re experiencing any life-threatening symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor about what you can expect during birth and how many people may be present.
Pregnancy Monitoring Tool During COVID-19
Since not every pregnancy check-up is in person anymore, monitoring tools can help evaluate your health and decrease anxiety. Using a fetal doppler allows you to detect your baby’s heartbeat and share the information or audio with your healthcare provider during calls or video chats.
Use a Fetal Doppler to Monitor Your Pregnancy. Get Quick Shipping Today.