From an interview with
Nurse Practitioner Andi Atkins
McLeod Dillon OB/GYN
Q: Are pregnant women at increased risk of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection?
ATKINS: We’re not 100% sure if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 or whether they’re more likely to have a serious illness as a result. But it’s important to know that the data is still limited. We do know that pregnant women have changes in their bodies, which may increase their risk of some infection. Just the same as the general population, it’s also important to know that pregnant women with problems, such as asthma and diabetes, face an increased risk for severe illness. Today, there’s no conclusive evidence that a pregnant woman can transmit COVID-19 to her fetus.
Q: What’s the best way for a pregnant women to avoid COVID-19 or coronavirus?
ATKINS: Most importantly, avoid people who are sick or have been exposed to the virus. Pregnant women need to clean their hands often, using soap and water for at least 20-seconds or they can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Try to avoid touching your face. Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently. Probably the best piece of information is stay at home, whenever possible. Report any fevers, coughs or unusual symptoms to your doctor.
Q: Any pregnancy can be stressful but few women, who became pregnant, anticipated the additional stress of the coronavirus. How can a pregnant woman manage all this stress?
ATKINS: We do know that increased stress is related to preterm labor and other negative outcomes during pregnancy. So, It’s very important for a pregnant woman that’s having these stressful situations to talk to their provider and share her concerns. They can ask for ACOG’s patient resources. A pregnant woman needs to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, exercise and drink enough water. We do know that going outside as much as possible is important, because vitamin D comes from the sun and helps fight stress.
Q: What if a new mother comes down with coronavirus and she’s breastfeeding?
ATKINS: I tell my patients that if they become sick while they’re breastfeeding and want to continue to directly breastfeed, they need to wear a mask and wash their hands before and after feeding. If they’re sick, but choose to express their breast milk, they need to use a dedicated breast pump just for them. Don’t share it with other patients. Wash their hands before touching the pump or the bottle pieces. Clean the pump after each use and, if possible, consider having someone that’s not sick give the expressed breast milk to the infant.
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