STOP. THE. MADNESS. Let’s talk in a really upfront way about Corona Virus and Pregnancy. We’ll cover the risks to pregnant women, how to prevent if and if you should be going out to buy masks:
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’ve been a nurse through the swine flu, and a couple of decades of cold & flu season. Follow me for more positive pregnancy & labor tips! 😊
Because I am getting SO many questions I did a whole podcast on Corona in Pregnancy, to tell you what I think you should be doing right now:
I also have a brand new post on my professional site all about what we know now about the Covid Vaccine for pregnant or breastfeeding women that I think you will find helpful.
A note on terminology: Corona Virus is the “common” name, but scientifically they call it COVID-19… just so you know. I will refer to it in both ways
Also, with birthing classes getting cancelled left and right (I did a whole post on what to do if your class got cancelled) — please use code PC10 to save 10% on my Online Prenatal Class for Couples. It’s always a great way to get prepared from the comfort of your home!
What we know about Pregnancy & the Corona Virus (COVID-19)
As a note: I would 100% talk to your provider about your particular circumstance and the Corona virus at your next appointment. Ask them things to watch for & if you’re more susceptible than others. Since they know you — and your health history, they are your best ally.
What we know: It seems to be very little, but from everything I read it seems like Corona Virus and the Flu are very similar (the Corona Virus being more problematic).
- Pregnant woman, if they were to get the Covid-19 virus would be more susceptible to problems — just as they are with the flu. However, studies are showing that maybe you’re not… (again, the science is very “young”)
- Personally, we’ve seen some bleeding issues and blood pressure issues (including preeclampisa) for moms who are positive at delivery.
- However, most people will get it — have something very similar to the flu and move on (which I have seen in the hospital recently).
We are STARTING to get some information on it. This ABC News article is interesting. I do think that pregnant moms should quarantine as much as possible, and wear a mask when they can (and use great handwashing).
The most common complication with COVID-19 is that you would get pneumonia and have issues with that and getting oxygen to your body. Which again, is pretty rare!
What to do to prevent the Corona Virus if you’re pregnant:
It is really similar to what you’d normally do during cold & flu season. The CDC has a great page on prevention.
We’re going to talk more about this further into the article, but masks have proven effect to both stop you from sharing it, should you have it — and to also stop you from getting it. They’re a win-win!
WASH. YOUR. HANDS
Honestly guys — this is what keeps transmission down. Go to a public place, don’t touch your face with your hands and then wash your hands when you’re home.
You don’t need antibacterial soap, but you do need an adequate amount of time of washing. I like to sing to “happy birthday” twice.
Tips for hand washing:
- Yes, get those large surfaces… but don’t forget:
- In between fingers
- Nailbeds (I just scratch mine in the palm of my hand for a refrain of “Happy Birthday”)
It would also be a time to increase your handwashing more frequently while at work (and increase the time — because I have to say most of us don’t do it long enough — myself included).
You can also use sanitizer if you so desire. It just uses alcohol to kill germs vs the manual action of washing your hands. I find it very drying if I use it frequently enough though. I have also found there have been shortages of sanitizer — so I just want to remind you that the manual washing with soap is just as good (actually, it’s better).
LIMIT GOING OUT!
You, as a soon to be mother, know how important each human is, which means you need to practice social distancing. Try to only leave if necessary.
- Limit playdates — socially distanced park visits might be a good option
- No lunch dates
- I would send other family members to the grocery store, and limit times that people leave your house as much as you can (which means it’s better to eat home vs door dash, but you do what you can do)
- Limit working outside the home where possible (but clearly, you also have to take care of yourself and you family — so balance the two).
Continue doing important things like:
- Getting fresh air outside (just keeping social distancing rules of 6 ft from those who don’t live with you)
- Working out (don’t go crazy now, but move your body in ways that are healthy)
- Getting enough sleep
- Drinking enough water
- “Eating the Rainbow” — getting good nutrition is awesome during pregnancy & during cold/flu/corona season
- Take your prenatal vitamins as instructed
Quarantine the Sick
What do you do if someone in your household gets the Corona Virus? Same as you would with a regular flu. Quarantine them as much as possible. Increase your hand washing and healthy practices.
Encourage them to wash their hands, cough into their arm (some people call it a vampire cough, as you cough into the crook of your arm), and use kleenex which they throw away after use.
Consider using an antibacterial spray or wipe on heavily used items (remotes, doorknobs, light switches).
I would also call your provider to let them know. See if there is anything you should do based on your specific circumstances.
What to do if a Pregnant Woman Gets the Corona Virus
First off, quarantine yourself. That may mean that husband has to stay home from work to take care of the other kids.
I am grateful to see that testing is back much sooner, and we are wanting to test more pregnant moms — so if you have symptoms, call your doctor. FYI, do NOT go into the emergency room, there are a places to get tested drive-up!
I have a whole post on what pregnant woman should do with a cold, and the tips there are valuable and very similar to what you’d do in this situation.
Cliff notes: Stay hydrated, if you can safely take Tylenol (Acetaminophen) that can help with a fever (check with your provider on if Tylenol is safe for you)
Treatment of the Corona Virus in Pregnant Women
Some interventions are proving fruitful if the virus becomes advanced and you are have difficulty oxygenating yourself.
But, prior to that you would treat it just like you any other cold or flu. Ask your provider if there is anything else you could be taking.
One of my favorite methods of treatment for a cough is a honey/lemon tea. Just squeeze in a half a lemon’s juice, and add a good amount of honey (to taste, I like a lot) to hot water. All aspects of this are good. Warm water can help ease throat pain/congestion. Honey and Lemon both can help with coughs and congestion as well!
You can read the symptoms of the Corona Virus here.
The #1 thing would be to STAY HYDRATED. If you’ve read my articles before, you know I’m a huge fan of hydration.
Some people have diarrhea with the virus and if that is the case, I would drink EVEN MORE. It’s SO important!
I have also seen articles talking about positioning as well as deep breathing, so you might want to talk to your doctor about those options.
Hospital Delivery During Covid-19
Your hospital delivery will look a bit different:
Staff will wear masks — to both protect you and them. Most often they will be surgical masks vs an N-95. However, if you are pushing or in the OR they do recommend RN’s wear an N-95 because of our close proximity
You will have a covid test upon admission If you have a scheduled procedure (induction or cesarean) they may ask you to get tested a couple of days prior to admission. This can be quite annoying, but it is quick and will make your hospital stay more enjoyable for all involved.
No Nitrous Both Nitrous and oxygen administration are limited since Covid started as it can aeresolize the virus. They have fuond the benefits do not outweigh the risks. You can learn more about Nitrous here.
No Labor Balls They have found that labor balls can’t be adequately disinfected. Some hospitals have single-use balls, or you can consider getting your own. They are fairly cheap on Amazon. They are great to promote movement if you have an epidural. Call your hospital to check on their policy before purchasing your own (I’ve seen some putting them in garbage bags that can be disposed of after each patient). My friend Mandy and I talk about this in my labor movement podcast:
Limiting Visitors While some hospitals have prevented any visitors most policies allow one to two people in the room. Sometimes that person has to stay your entire visit (or just come back to pick you up). So, I would call your hospital to see what their policy is at the time (and be aware it is changing frequently as cases abate or surge). Most especially some hospitals are making exceptions for doulas — so be sure to ask.
Otherwise, deliveries are AMAZING. It’s so exciting to have something so fun and exciting times during these miserable times.
I want to stress that. The sheer joy of something like this during a time where everyone is feeling so low is absolutely phenomenal. Revel in that, that YOUR baby is a bright spot in the world. 🙂
Also, a lot of families have really enjoyed special time with no visitors at the hospital. So, even though people were initially disappointed, it may change who comes to the labor room forever.
Risks to the Baby
If you were to have a very high fever during your first trimester it can be problematic for the baby — as it can with any fever or illness.
Make sure to stay VERY hydrated. Honestly, water is almost as good as anything else you could take at this point. It will flush the virus out of your system, and keep your lungs as healthy as possible. Have I harped on that point enough?
They are finding that risks to the baby are somewhat minimal — and more research is going on, so stay tuned.
Risks to Mom
They are finding that pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications from Covid. That’s why the conversation around the Covid Vaccine for pregnant women is so important.
The main risk is that a respiratory issue could progress to problematic. If you find yourself with shortness of breath, wheezing that isn’t cleared with a cough, or breathing is hard/painful. Please seek assistance. Those with a previous health history of respiratory issues can be more susceptible to problems (things like vaping, smoking, asthma or other lung issues).
As far as risks to the baby after birth, I would make sure I wore a mask when breastfeeding until I was feeling better. I would also have someone who is COVID negative do any other care for the baby.
A lot of places have Corona Virus hotlines or offer teledoc appointments to keep people out of the hospital, so be sure to use that early if you’re pregnant (and let your regular provider know too).
Remember to not stress out. It is still most likely that you have something that is NOT Corona Virus!
Should Pregnant Women Stock Up on Masks?
April Update: The CDC has recommended masks for going into the public. I have sewn a few of my own masks, and they’re obviously at stores.
I 100% recommend people wear masks in public places. And I 100% understand it is WORSE to wear a mask when you are pregnant, which would likely limit your visits to public places.
N-95 Respirators for Pregnant Women.
STOP. Have you guys ever worn one of these? First-off, you have to be fitted to get a tight enough fit (nurses are tested yearly). Also they are HARD to deal with. As it does filter your breath you are inhaling and exhaling harder with the mask on. It’s TIGHT on your face and we — as healthcare workers — ONLY use them when we are in DIRECT contact with someone we must be protected against.
Summary: They are a huge pain, stop wearing them unless directed to by a provider.
Breastfeeding Moms and the Corona Virus
If you’re healthy, that’s awesome. I would recommend keeping your baby home as much as possible (it’s cold/flu/RSV season so that’s recommended anyway).
However, the good news is that most of the information I have seen shows that babies and young children don’t have much of an issue with the Corona Virus. However, we are always learning more.
If you were to have the Corona Virus continue to wash hands VERY frequently, keep breastfeeding as that will help your baby’s immunity and try not to get in their face as much as possible.
I have seen recommendations of wearing a mask while feeding (if you are Covid positive) You can always cover the baby with a blanket (a clean one) as you feed so if you were to cough or sneeze it wouldn’t get on them.
My friend Katie also has a super helpful article on the Corona Virus and Breastfeeding.
The worst thing to do with the Corona Virus
While day to day stressful events (that come and go) are good for your baby, prolonged stress is not. And this, is not a reason to be stressed out.
I repeat: it is not a reason to stress-out.
If you find yourself devouring many articles, consider saying some positive statements like:
- I and my baby are healthy
- I am grateful for my healthy body
Then, get up and do something else. Don’t read all the media attention this is getting it will only make things worse in your mind.
And that, my friends, is my take on the Corona Virus.
Drink more water, wash your hands.
Be positive and happy.
If you found this helpful, I’d love it if you stuck with me for the rest of your pregnancy: