If you are pregnant, naturally you will have some questions about COVID-19 and how the virus could affect you, your baby, and your birth plan. We want to reassure you we’re staying on top of this evolving situation and you can expect to receive the same great care you have always received from Garrison and Wentworth-Douglass’s Women and Children’s Center during this time. Below are answers to some of the most common questions related to COVID-19:
Am I at greater risk of COVID-19 infection while pregnant?
Because this is a novel virus, little is known about its impact on pregnant women. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With similar viruses and other viral respiratory infections such as the flu, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.
How can pregnant women protect themselves from COVID-19?
During this time, we encourage you to follow recommendations to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by taking these actions:
- Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
- Keep away from people who are sick
- Limit close contact, crowds, and travel
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Is it safe to go to my prenatal appointments?
Our prenatal offices are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of exposure for their patients. This includes postponing non-urgent office visits and elective procedures, screening all patients for signs of illness prior to appointments, avoiding waiting areas, canceling group activities, and using telephone visits and telemedicine as much as possible. Regular prenatal care is important to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, so we encourage you to keep your scheduled appointments. For more on Garrison’s office policies regarding the virus, click here.
Is it safe to deliver at WDH?
Women & Children’s at WDH is closely monitoring and following CDC, federal, state, and local recommendations and guidance regarding COVID-19. We are screening all patients for respiratory illness, limiting visitors, and ensuring we have the appropriate protective equipment to protect our patients and staff. Obstetrics is an essential component of healthcare, and we can assure you that our midwives, doctors, and nurses are here to care for you.
What should I do if I have symptoms or known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
This information is rapidly evolving. The latest data shows that about 80% of people with COVID-19 will show no or very mild signs of illness. If you have signs of respiratory illness, please call your primary care provider who will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. If you have any pregnancy-specific concerns, you should call your obstetric provider.
If I test positive for COVID-19, what is the risk of passing the virus onto my fetus or newborn?
Currently, it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross through the placenta to the fetus. The risk of passing the infection to the fetus appears to be very low. In limited recent cases of infants born to mothers infected with COVID-19, none of their infants have tested positive for COVID-19 at birth. After delivery, since the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, precautions will need to be in place to minimize exposure to your infant, including washing your hands and wearing a face mask before touching your infant and distancing yourself > 6 feet from infant when not.
If I test positive for COVID-19, can I still breastfeed my baby?
Currently, there is no evidence that the virus is in breast milk. For mothers with COVID-19 infection, breastmilk can be expressed with a breast pump then fed to the infant by someone who is well. Or if you choose to feed your infant at breast, you can minimize the risk of exposure by washing your hands and wearing a face mask. Our staff will be here to help you if you find yourself in this scenario.
Should I reschedule my baby shower?
While this is a joyous time and an important occasion, public health agencies such as the CDC have recommended social distancing to limit the spread of the virus. We know this is disappointing and hope you can find other ways to celebrate this time.
We know that this is an unprecedented time for our country and our communities. While we expect you to have questions and concerns, we hope you will find ways to enjoy and celebrate this amazing time in your life.
This information is rapidly evolving. As you seek information, we encourage you to go to credible sources such as:
Coronavirus Updates: https://www.wdhospital.org/wdh/about-wdh/coronavirus-covid-19-updates
Information for patients planning to deliver at WDH: https://www.gwhc.com/news-events/covid-19-planning-to-deliver-at-wentworth-douglass-hospital/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
The outbreak of the coronavirus and COVID-19 may be stressful for you and your family. Here are some resources to support your family’s mental health, including how to talk to children in a reassuring way.
Virtual classes and other tools to care for yourself during this time
Managing Stress & Anxiety
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus