How Does COVID-19 Affect Pregnancy?

COVID-19 has struck fear in the hearts of our entire nation. Parents are concerned about their children. Older adults appear to be at the highest risk, and pregnant women wonder if it will infect their unborn babies. So much is unknown. How does COVID-19 affect pregnancy?

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available. Studies do show that generally, pregnant women do not fight infections as quickly as others because their immune systems are weaker. As a result, the Mayo Clinic states, “Potentially, pregnant women could be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.”

What We Know About COVID-19

At this point, the most information regarding pregnancy and contracting COVID-19 comes from China. However, a recent study in Los Angeles included 134 pregnant women who tested positive for the disease. More than 82% of the women had symptoms. Of those who have already given birth, none of their babies were infected.

These results would suggest the virus does not spread through the amniotic fluid or across the placenta. Even reports of a very small number of premature births cannot be directly linked to COVID-19 infections.

Do I have COVID-19?

The only way to positively know if you have COVID-19 is to test for the virus. In some jurisdictions, access to tests is limited, and people with symptoms will be be given priority in testing.  In some cases, the tests are giving false-negative results. Check to see if you are experiencing the following COVID-19 symptoms (the following are straight from the Centers for Disease Control):

“People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

“Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

“This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.”

The CDC goes on, regarding when to seek emergency medical attention:

“Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911  if you are experiencing any of these more severe symptoms.  Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Pregnant or not, the virus can have severe consequences, and you need to be proactive.

What You Should Do If You Are Pregnant

Further research is needed to determine what if any pregnancy complications are due to COVID-19. As always, you should be receiving regular prenatal care from a doctor. It is also essential for you to avoid getting the virus.

Follow these steps to reduce your risk.

  • Avoid close contact with others by following the social distancing rule of 6 feet.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not available.
  • Work with family members and your workplace if you are working on sanitizing practices.
  • Take care of your mental health during this crisis – it is as essential for your baby as it is for you.

Information for this blog came from the CDC website:

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

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html