What Is The Risk Of The Coronavirus For A Pregnant Woman
Even though research is limited and only applies to the later stages of pregnancy, there is still valuable information that all pregnant women should be made known in regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important for pregnant women to understand the risks posed to them and their unborn fetus as it relates to the coronavirus and how pregnant women can protect themselves during this coronavirus pandemic.
[This article is part of the developing coronavirus coverage, and may be outdated. Go here for the latest on the coronavirus.]
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
You’re pregnant and you are worried about the growing risk of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Are pregnant women more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus? Is there a higher risk? Is there a threat of transmission to the fetus? Should you get tested? Should you make an appointment with your doctor or just call?
These are all really important questions to ask and fully understand during this heightened time when the coronavirus is spreading world wide at a rapid rate. Health officials are repeatedly urging Americans to prepare, and you can do so right now. In this article all these questions plus more will be answered so you can leave here today having more clarity on what you need to do moving forward during your pregnancy as the coronavirus continues to spread at an accelerated rate.
Are pregnant women at higher risk for coronavirus?
I want to start off by saying that studies suggest expected mothers are not at greater risk, according to experts including Lucia Binding (March 12, 2020) and Dr. Kavita Patel.
It is known by the CDC that older adults are at the highest risk, not pregnant women. And people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are also at high risk.
More information is emerging each passing day, but as for right now, it’s evident that pregnancy does not cause you to be more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus.
How does the Coronavirus Spread?
According to the CDC, the coronavirus spreads person-to-person. This means that it spreads between people through close contact, specifically 6 feet apart (72 inches). That’s just about the same length of a twin size bed (a standard twin bed is 75 inches). Keep that perspective in mind when coming in contact with other people.
The means of transmission is through respiratory droplets, which is produced by way of coughing or sneezing from an infected person. These tiny particles, or droplets, can enter you through the air breathed through your mouth and nose and inhaled into your lungs. Unknowingly, you can be infected by the coronavirus simply by the air you breathe if near a contagious person 6 feet away says the CDC.
In addition, you can become infected by coming into close contact with another infected individual, by touching them or shaking their hands or touching a surface that’s been contaminated with the virus and then touching your unwashed hands to your mouth, nose or eyes. –whattoexpect.com
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
There are apparent symptoms that you will notice if you or someone you know has the coronavirus.
- Shortness of breath
- Emergency Warning Signs as stated by the CDC include:
- Difficult breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Blush lips or face
As per CDC: “This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any symptoms that are severe or concerning.”
Continue reading further down this article to find out what you need to do if you start to experience symptoms such as these during pregnancy.
“Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19,” explains the CDC.
Do pregnant women experience more symptoms if infected by the coronavirus?
At this time there is not enough research to express concern for increased symptoms if coronavirus was contracted during pregnancy. You would, however, be classified as high risk. This is similar to what was observed during previous infectious cases related to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) that occurred during pregnancy.
What are the risks to pregnancy?
It is confirmed that 9 cases in China have been reported and confirmed involving pregnant women and the coronavirus. All of these women contracted the coronavirus during their 3rd trimester. Thankfully, these women had success stories in which none of the mothers died and their babies have all been born, uninfected and are alive and well. COVID-19 was not found in the amniotic fluid, cord blood of breastmilk of the mothers.
The coronavirus,however, did have effects on their labor and delivery in which they can be classified as high risk pregnancies with complicated labors. These women had symptoms similar to pneumonia in which their pregnancies lead to C-sections. But what’s most important to remember is that C-sections are extremely common regardless of the coronavirus and babies are delivered safely and with no harm if this was to take place.
Keep in mind that every day, roughly 10,000 babies are born in the United States, and about a third of them are born via Cesarean section according to Emily Oster from The Atlantic.
Is there a threat of transmission of the Coronavirus to the fetus?
Of course you probably have concern for your newborn baby contracting coronavirus. Thankfully through all this we can be happy to say that children, including newborns have incredible resilience to the coronavirus. Children ranging from 0 months to 19 years of age are the least vulnerable to becoming symptomatic after contracting COVID-19. With that said, it’s important to have awareness of your child’s symptoms and to not hesitate at the slightest inkling that your child might have contracted the virus.
The sooner you are in the know, the better you can prevent the spread and the increased rate of contraction to others in your family or other individuals your baby or child might come in contact with.
Other hopeful news is that all cases involving newborn babies who contracted the coronavirus have fully recovered except for one case. Symptoms are the same for adults and children in which you would notice pulmonary symptoms and other lung related symptoms affecting your child.
When do you need to go to the doctor to get tested for the coronavirus?
At what point do you or your children need to admit there is a problem and agree to be checked out? It’s recommended that you don’t hesitate, and don’t be afraid to call your doctor’s office.
Medical professionals and the government want you to have a lower threshold to visiting your doctor; that means they want you to get screened even with the smallest smallest sign of a problem. If you are showing signs or symptoms of the coronavirus, take the bold step in calling your doctor right away and asking what you should do next.
If your doctor wants you to get screened right away, then definitely do what they suggest. They may suggest going to the ER to get tested. Follow the Emergency Room’s protocol (most places have signs posted at the door before entering with instructions on how to proceed). Early detection is always the best way to prevent the spread and worsening of the disease.
Also, the risk of harm to your baby increases the longer you go without medical care. The sooner you are seen by a doctor, the earlier the diagnosis, the safer your baby could be.
- Try staying home if you think you have symptoms, and call the doctor to discuss a plan.
- Notify your healthcare provider of symptoms you are experiencing via a phone call (don’t just make an appointment without letting them know the reason why). Tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help them to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within their medical facility, and it will also protect you.
- You may not need to go to the hospital, and you may be able to be treated at home if your symptoms are under control.
- Ask your doctor if you need to go to the emergency room.
- Get medical attention immediately if you have any of the emergency warning signs listed on the CDC website.
What safety precautions and preventive measures should you take when you go visit a doctor’s office?
Be sensible when it comes to stepping inside a doctor’s office if you think you are contagious with the coronavirus, or any virus for that matter. Use precautions such as coughing in your shoulder; better off, wear a mask, avoid touching many surfaces and consider wearing gloves to prevent the spread. Avoid contact with others, and notify the office staff right away that you want to be tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Hopefully you have an appointment and alerted the doctor’s office for the reason you made the appointment. If so, ask them ahead of time what protocol or precautions they want you to follow when you arrive at the doctor’s office.
New information is emerging regarding this, so continue to be in contact with your doctor regarding the steps that should be taken if in the future you were to experience symptoms related to the coronavirus.
What pregnant woman can do to protect themselves from the coronavirus
The CDC is being very clear on what they highly recommend you do in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and how you can protect yourself from contracting the coronavirus. Here are some helpful tips that you should implement during your pregnancy in order to protect yourself as the coronavirus continues to spread at a faster rate than predicted.
Ways you can reduce the risk of getting sick from the coronavirus
The CDC wants everyone, especially pregnant women to reduce their risk of contracting the coronavirus. Here is what they suggest:
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
Take Everyday Preventative Actions:
The CDC has provided a list of important preventive measures to follow during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Maintain clean hands by cleaning them often
- Use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
- When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer (needs to be containing at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid as much as possible touching high-touch surfaces in public places (examples include: elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc). It’s recommended to use a tissue, glove or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- Wash your hands as soon as possible after touching surfaces in public places.
- Keep your hands from touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs (specifically tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones).
- Avoid crowds. Facilities with poorly ventilated spaces puts you at higher risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19. Closed-in settings with large crowds and little air circulation puts you at higher risk if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
- Do not take part in any non-essential travel including plane trips and especially cruise ships.
Places pregnant woman should avoid going during the coronavirus outbreak
Since the CDC is recommending that you avoid going out into facilities with mass quantities of people in order to avoid contact with others who may have unknowingly been exposed to the coronavirus, I want to provide you with a list of places you should absolutely avoid visiting during this specific time if you are pregnant.
This list continues to grow and some locations are closed or on complete lock down so be sure to get the most current information on the CDC website.
(The safest decision is to avoid all public places all together and remain in your home. Have other family members or friends run the errands for you.)
- Emergency rooms
- Health Clubs and Gyms
- Churches (recommend watching the services online: steven B link)
- Sporting events
- Grocery stores (recommend grocery pick-up at Walmart or sending your spouse or other family member)
- Transportation services (buses, metro, airplanes, trains, etc recommend wearing a mask and avoid touching your face)
- Other facilities that house mass quantities of people
Consider canceling your travel plans for the time being until further information is provided from the CDC regarding safe travel means during the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus and Pregnancy
Do you think you have coronavirus and will you be getting tested? I know it can be worrisome for all parents, but especially pregnant moms, to think you may have contracted COVID-19 because of the risk it could have on your baby.
The most important thing you can do is to continue to be informed by the experts and your medical doctors on the new information that emerges each day as it relates to pregnancy and the coronavirus. Follow the recommended precautions for preventing the spread and contact your doctor immediately the moment you think you have symptoms related to the coronavirus.
Continue to pray each day of your pregnancy that you do not need to live in fear and that you will continue to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. If you want more updates and information related to the coronavirus as it relates to pregnancy and parenting, join my newsletter where you will receive notifications instantly on the newest post.
Up next: Coronavirus and Pregnancy: How Women Giving Birth in 2020 Will Redefine Motherhood by Samantha at Her Journal.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
**It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.