Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new disease, meaning research and knowledge on its impact is quite limited.
“The data about COVID-19 in pregnancy is constantly evolving and the recommendations change as often as daily,” says Dr. Caitlin Nicotra, an OB/GYN with Trinity Medical. “A recent analysis of over 8,000 pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 states that there appears to be an increased risk of severe illness, compared to their non-pregnant counterparts. With this being said, it is so important for pregnant women to wear a mask in public, perform hand washing often, and limit contact with others to decrease risk of exposure.”
“Women expect pregnancy and delivery to be the happiest time in their lives; unfortunately, the global COVID-19 pandemic has replaced thoughts that once brought joy with feelings of fear and anxiety. As an OB/GYN in the Buffalo community, I am seeing increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression in my pregnant and postpartum patients, and I attribute this to the pandemic. Because of this, I feel it is really important to maintain prenatal and postpartum care appointments to discuss these feelings with your provider.
If a woman is considering home birth only to avoid exposure to the hospital, she should know that a hospital birth is still recommended as a safer option. Hospitals have implemented strict infection control procedures to keep both mother and baby safe during their stay.
As far as breastfeeding goes, if a mother is COVID-19 positive during labor and delivery, it is still safe to breastfeed the baby. With proper hand hygiene and mask usage, the benefits of breastmilk far outweigh any potential risks to the baby. Preliminary studies show the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in breastmilk, so breastmilk continues to be the best source of nutrition for most babies.”
How Should Pregnant Women Protect Themselves from COVID-19?
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending that pregnant women protect themselves by following the same guidelines as the general public. This includes:
- Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Distancing yourself from people who are sick
- Coughing and sneezing into the crook of your elbow
- Noting symptoms of a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, or fever to your primary care provider
Is It Still Safe to Deliver My Baby at the Hospital?
Many women have started to question whether they should consider a home birth, rather than delivering in the hospital. We want to reassure these moms-to-be that the hospital is still the safest place to deliver your baby. Our healthcare practitioners recommend that you continue with the birth plan that works best for you.
Catholic Health has put recent visitor restrictions and screening measures in place to protect our patients, as well as our associates.
At this time, we are still permitting maternity patients to receive support from one visitor (spouse, family member, friend, etc.). Please note that all visitors will be asked to complete our screening process, and may be denied entry to the hospital if they have a high temperature or any abnormal symptoms.
The CDC continues to update guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Please visit their site at the link below for more information.