COVID-19 in Pregnancy

Last modified: August 18, 2020
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**Our knowledge of COVID-19 is changing daily. Due to this, this information will likely be subject to modification.**

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a novel virus from the coronavirus family that was first identified in the Wuhan province of China in November 2019. A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus which means it was not previously identified. The virus that causes COVID-19 is not the same as coronaviruses that commonly affect humans, like the common cold. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.

What are the symptoms and how is it spread?

The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to:fatigue, headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 may be spread through several different ways, such as droplets from coughing or sneezing; close personal contact with others, including touching and shaking hands; and touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes with unwashed hands.

Transmission of the COVID-19 virus from contact with an asymptomatic infected person can also occur. Infection prevention measures such as frequent hand washing, wearing a face mask and social distancing are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Am I more at risk if I am pregnant?

Currently, there is limited data of pregnant women who have contracted COVID-19. Pregnancy does affect your immune system and may increase your risk of contracting respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 or influenza. If you are pregnant and become infected with COVID-19, limited data suggests you may be at a higher risk to develop severe illness, to be admitted to the ICU and to require mechanical ventilation compared to non- pregnant patients. However, the overall risk for ICU admission and need for mechanical ventilation remains low. There currently does not appear to be an increased risk of death in pregnant versus non-pregnant patients.

Can COVID-19 affect my pregnancy?

The data for COVID-19 in pregnancy is currently limited. In other coronaviruses (SARS and MERS), there was not an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. However, in pregnant patients who had the flu during pregnancy, they did have higher rates of low birth weight and preterm birth.

In the first trimester, having a high fever has been associated with increased risks of certain birth defects. Currently, there is not enough data available about COVID-19 and the risk of miscarriage or birth defects

Can I transmit the virus to my baby during pregnancy or delivery?

Recent limited data suggests transmission of COVID-19 to the baby during the third trimester of pregnancy is rare but possible. However, data from the first or early second trimester of pregnancy are not available. Whether infection earlier in pregnancy can lead to transmission to the baby during pregnancy has yet to be determined. also close after birth

Is it safe for me to deliver at a hospital that has COVID-19 cases?

Yes. Hospitals are taking many precautions to keep patients and their healthcare providers as safe as possible. Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases are being isolated, and precautions are taken to prevent spread of the virus. Stricter visitor policies have also been implemented to keep patients safe. You should be able to deliver at your hospital without putting you or your baby at additional risk.

Should my prenatal care appointments be altered?

Pregnant patients should continue to receive their routine scheduled and recommended prenatal care. In certain situations your healthcare provider may suggest telemedicine/telehealth (including telephone and/or video) prenatal visits to allow access to care remotely to minimize your number of in-office visits. However, pregnant patients with certain high risk conditions may still require in-office prenatal visits and may not be candidates for telemedicine/telehealth visits. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the telemedicine/ telehealth option is right for you.

I work in healthcare or other high risk of exposure setting. Should I continue to work until the baby is born?

Healthcare employers should be taking extra precautions to limit the exposure of pregnant employees to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Pregnant healthcare workers should wear appropriate PPE including face covering and eye protection when providing direct care to all patients. Follow the CDC’s risk assessment and infection control guidelines at your work place. If you work in another high risk of exposure job setting (school, travel, etc.), you should talk to your employer about what they are or could do to decrease the risk of infection.

Will the hospital separate me from my newborn and keep the baby in quarantine?

The hospital will not separate you from your newborn if you don’t have COVID-19 and have not been exposed to the virus.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been exposed, the CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that you be separated from your baby. This is to decrease the risk of infecting your infant. This separation would be until you are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus to your infant. This is difficult to imagine and would be heartbreaking. However it is to keep your baby healthy. Talk to your family, your doctor and the hospital about how to plan for who will take care of your baby if you tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been exposed.

How can I protect myself from contracting COVID-19?

Avoid close contact with other people

The virus is spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact (about 6 feet). It spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets land on people nearby or inhaled into the lungs.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Distance between yourself and other people at least 6 feet
  • Stay home when possible and don’t make unnecessary trips to the store, etc.

Wash your hands

  • Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash frequently, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing or using the restroom.
  • If you can’t access soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home if you are sick

  • Unless you need to access medical care
  • Please call your provider’s office or hospital before you arrive if you have fever, cough, shortness of breath so they can protect you and other patients

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

  • Cover your mouth and nose by coughing/sneezing into the inside of your elbow (not your hand) or cover with a tissue.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Should I wear a facemask?

  • If you are sick:
    • You should avoid contact with other people. You should notify your healthcare provider and put on a mask before you go into your provider’s office or into the hospital.
  • If you are NOT sick:
    • You should wear a face mask when you are not able to be distanced from others at least 6 feet apart..

What is social distancing and why is it important?

Social distancing is currently the best tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus. Social distancing is physical distancing. Separating ourselves physically from other people can decrease the spread of the virus. The goal of this, and why it is important, is to decrease the burden of our medical system. Instead of a “surge” of patients all at one time, the cases will be over several weeks or months and allow our medical system to give each patient optimal medical care.

For more information, check out https://www.flattenthecurve.com/.

Who should I contact if I am concerned that I have symptoms?

You can contact your OB provider if you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you come to your provider’s office or to the hospital, please call before you arrive so that we can be ready to take care of you.
Or you can use the options below:

UAMS Health COVID-19 Hotline

(800) 632-4502

COVID-19 screening online through telehealth option:

https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/

UAMS COVID-19 drive-thru screening option:

https://uamshealth.com/location/covid-19-drive-thru-screening/

Links and Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

UAMS Coronavirus Information

https://uamshealth.com/coronavirus/

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Some of these documents have been developed based on current needs and experiences. UAMS is an entity of the state which may have different requirements under federal and state law than your hospital, doctors, and other providers. This information is provided as a public service in response to continuing questions from various community providers. All information is subject to change as our response to this pandemic challenge continues. Consult your practice or facility leadership before adopting any practices or protocols provided here.