For women who are pregnant, special precautions are a part of everyday life – not drinking caffeine or alcohol, avoiding smoking, avoiding undercooked meat and soft cheeses, as well as staying out of hot tubs – are all standard advice for a healthy pregnancy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are extra precautions pregnant women should take. While there is not enough research to understand if pregnant women are at a greater risk of getting sick or severely ill from COVID-19, officials are advising that pregnant women take special precautions. That’s based on established science that due to changes in their bodies during pregnancy, pregnant women may be more at risk of some infections. Additionally, pregnant women have had a higher risk of severe illness from viruses from the same family as COVID-19, as well as from other viral respiratory infections like influenza. Here are steps pregnant women should take during the pandemic:
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol based.
- Avoid people who are sick, or who have been exposed to COVID-19
Pregnant women should talk to their doctor if they have specific questions about how COVID-19 affects their pregnancy and delivery. Each hospital has its own protocol for visitors and support people in the delivery unit, so check with your provider to know what to expect. Additionally, some doctors may be changing how they visit with their expecting patients to minimize the need for them to come into the office during the pandemic. Some doctors may choose to use telemedicine – including phone calls or video calls – for some low-risk appointments to minimize the possibility of exposure. While it’s unlikely that a mother would spread the virus to their child during pregnancy, once they are born the infant could be infected with the virus from the mother or another family member. Health officials are encouraging mothers with COVID-19 to breastfeed their infants, but to take the following precautions:
- If you are direct breastfeeding, wear a facemask and wash your hands before each feeding
- If you are pumping breastmilk, use your own pump and wash your hands before each use. Make sure to clean the pump after each use.
- If possible, consider having someone who is not sick feed your infant the expressed milk.
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