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4 Things You Need to Know If You're Pregnant During COVID-19

May 19, 2020 - Dr. Elizabeth Mosier

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety over the past several months, especially among pregnant women. Pregnancy can be stressful at the best of times, and I know the new coronavirus has been causing my patients serious strain.

Everyone is doing his or her best to stay home and stay safe, but new information comes out daily — and it can be challenging to keep up.

Here's what you need to know while pregnant during COVID-19.

You should consider taking extra precautions

People over age 65, or those with underlying medical conditions — such as lung disease, severe asthma, heart disease, a comprised immune system, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease or liver disease — are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

We don't know if healthy pregnant women have a greater chance of infection or severe illness with COVID-19 than the general population. So far, it appears they are at the same risk as adults who are not pregnant. However, other upper respiratory viruses, such as influenza, can cause more severe illness in pregnant women — so you should still take precautions.

In addition, it doesn't appear there is transmission between mother and baby during pregnancy, though there is a risk that a mother may pass COVID-19 to her baby shortly after delivery.

The steps you can take to keep you and your baby safe

If you're pregnant, please make sure you stay at home as much as possible and away from people who are sick.

If possible, you and your employer should consider a work-from-home plan for you. Your doctor may be able to help document the importance of working from home. If you are not able to work from home, your employer should follow the employee safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You should also:

  • Limit any unnecessary shopping trips or travel
  • Avoid unnecessary visitors
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces, including phones and keyboards, door handles, light switches, faucets, tables and counter tops, in your home daily with an appropriate disinfectant

 

If you do leave home, make sure to stay six feet away from others, practice proper hand washing and avoid touching your face. The CDC also recommends wearing a cloth mask to protect others. I made some fabric masks for our clinic — after fighting my sewing machine for three days. You can also make a simple mask from a cut-up t-shirt, bandana or scarf without a sewing machine.

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Mild symptoms include a dry cough, mild shortness of breath, fever and chills. Less common symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose and diarrhea.

Severe symptoms like severe shortness of breath, chest pain, new confusion, severe weakness or blue lips or face are emergencies. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you or a loved one are experiencing these severe symptoms.

At Houston Methodist, people with severe symptoms that require admission to the hospital are being tested in the emergency room, while people with more mild symptoms that can likely be managed at home are being tested at outpatient locations. If you are having mild symptoms, please do not go directly to your doctor's office. Instead, call ahead or consider using Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care.

If you are symptomatic, you should quarantine at home — staying home unless you need medical care. If you need medical care, call your doctor's office in advance, wear a mask and avoid public transportation. While at home, stay in a separate room away from your family, if possible, and preferably use a separate bathroom. You should also avoid sharing personal items like dishes, bedding and towels, and disinfect commonly touched surfaces regularly. If you need to be around your family, wear a mask. Make sure you rest, stay hydrated and keep in touch with your health care provider.

Getting the care you need is still safe

Houston Methodist is offering virtual video visits to our patients to help limit patient contact with both our pregnant and nonpregnant patients.

For our pregnant patients, we are typically alternating video visits with in-office visits. We are also trying to stretch the time between in-person visits, when possible. Naturally, some visits will need to be in the office due to lab work, routine vaccination, cervical exams and fetal monitoring — especially during the third trimester.

Pregnant patients who are seen via video visit are encouraged to purchase a blood pressure cuff to help monitor their blood pressure. A prescription can be sent to your local pharmacy to help get this covered by your insurance. We also encourage our patients to purchase a fetal doppler to check your baby's heart beat. However, if you are able to feel your baby's movement, this may not be necessary. You can purchase a fetal doppler from a variety of online retailers. We encourage you to check your blood pressure, weight and baby's heart beat before or during your video visit with your obstetrician.

When you do need to visit the clinic, we encourage you to leave visitors at home or in the car to decrease potential coronavirus exposure to the staff and other patients. If you are disabled or need assistance, you are allowed one visitor to help you.

When visiting our clinics, know that we are taking extra precautions to keep you safe, including:

  • Screening all employees, patients and necessary visitors before entry
  • Requiring all patients and employees to wear masks
  • Practicing social distancing in waiting rooms and minimizing waiting room times
  • Encouraging patients to complete check-in paperwork in advance online
  • Cleaning all exam rooms, bathrooms and waiting areas thoroughly throughout the day

 

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed, please call the office prior to your visit. Your visit may need to be changed to a video visit or rescheduled.

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