Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients

Reviewed by: Lisa Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

 

Experts are learning more every day about the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The American College of

Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is following the situation closely.

 

 

How can COVID-19 affect a fetus?

It is too early for researchers to know how COVID-19 might affect a fetus. Some pregnant women with COVID-19 have had preterm births, but it is not clear whether the preterm births were because of COVID-19. It is not likely that COVID-19 passes to a fetus during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, but more research is needed to be sure.

 

What should pregnant women do to avoid the coronavirus?

The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Pregnant women can take the same steps as other people to

protect themselves. These steps include:

 

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or cleaning hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you cannot wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home as much as possible
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
  • Avoiding people who are sick

 

See all the prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How will COVID-19 affect prenatal and postpartum care visits?

As this virus spreads, it is a good idea to call your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional to

find out how your visits may be changed. Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits. You also may have more options to connect with your health care team over the phone or through an online video call. This is called telemedicine, or telehealth. Telehealth is a great way for you to get the care you need while preventing the spread of disease.

 

How can I manage stress, anxiety, and depression?

Some pregnant and postpartum women may be feeling fear, uncertainty, stress, or anxiety because of COVID-19.

Reaching out to friends and family during this time may help. Phone calls, texts, and online chats are safe ways to stay

connected to others. There also are treatment and support resources you can access over the phone or online. Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about how to get help if you’re having any symptoms like the ones below:

 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, or helpless
  • Being afraid or worried, which may cause a fast heartbeat
  • Feeling that life is not worth living
  • Having repeated scary or unwanted thoughts that are hard to get rid of

 

If you are in crisis or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911 right away.  Physical activity also may help your mental health. And it may be useful to focus on your breathing each day, especially if you are feeling anxious. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat this breathing three times to help you relax.

 

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the ACOG article.

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