Q: What should I do to protect myself and my baby from coronavirus if I’m pregnant?
We’re learning more about COVID-19/coronavirus every day, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about how the disease affects pregnant people, and whether you’re at higher risk if you’re pregnant.
So far, there’s no data showing that pregnant people are at greater risk from coronavirus. However, there is a lot of evidence that pregnancy increases your risk from other viruses, like influenza. For this reason, many experts are recommending that pregnant people take extra precautions.
Take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 by avoiding people who are sick or have been exposed to the virus, practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you, avoiding social gatherings and staying home as much as possible. It’s also important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Prenatal visits are important to make sure both you and your baby are healthy. If you’re concerned about being exposed to coronavirus during your appointments, talk with your healthcare provider about how to proceed, whether you should skip any visits or if you can do the check-in remotely, and what your health care provider is doing to keep visits safe and minimize the risks.
Finally, it’s unlikely that you can pass coronavirus to your baby during pregnancy, and there’s no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk. However, newborns can become infected through person-to-person spread after birth. If you test positive for COVID-19 and decide to breastfeed, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask to reduce your baby’s exposure, or use a pump to express milk so that someone else can feed your baby.
Dr. Stacy Ammerman
OB/GYN, Maui Lani Physicians & Surgeons