COVID-19: Staying safe and healthy during pregnancy

By: Jennifer McNulty, M.D., maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach

For expectant mothers, staying safe during the era of COVID-19 is essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Though pregnant women do not seem to be at increased risk for contracting COVID-19, they should monitor their symptoms and seek medical attention when necessary to avoid severe respiratory infection. Much still needs to be learned about the impact of COVID-19 on mothers and infants. Symptoms of COVID-19 that pregnant women should report to their doctor include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Fever

Tips for Staying Safe and Healthy

Pregnant women can stay safe and healthy during COVID-19 by practicing these safety measures:

  • Stay home and limit outside interactions
  • Maintain a social distance of six feet
  • Schedule prenatal appointments using telehealth services (if appropriate)
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
  • Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol

It’s also important that expecting mothers stay in contact with their support system during COVID-19. Although women should limit in-person interactions, this can lead to stress or anxiety. However, women should reach out to their friends, family and doctor via phone calls, video chats and online resources.

Appointments and Deliveries

It’s critical that women continue to check in with their doctor throughout their pregnancy and delivery. You should attend all your regular appointments – many offices offer telehealth services and all have set-up safety measures for needed in-person visits. Hospitals are equally safe places to receive medical care.

At Miller Children’s & Women’s, specially designed protocols that follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines have been put in place to keep hospital staff and patients safe.

Before any appointment or delivery, patients and their support person are screened at the hospital entrance for signs, symptoms or risk factors of COVID-19. Women without symptoms of COVID-19 who are being admitted for delivery or who have a scheduled delivery also will be given a COVID-19 rapid test. If tested negative, women will follow standard safety procedures to ensure that they are kept safe from COVID-19 exposure. If the test is positive, additional safety measures are employed, and include that health care workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE). In these situations, best practices for safe care of the newborn will be individualized with shared decision making between the mother and the infant’s healthcare providers.

Whether an expectant mother is COVID-19 positive or not, her care team will follow thorough procedures to ensure that other staff, patients and individuals are kept safe from exposure. All staff at Miller Children’s & Women’s are equipped with PPE to keep mothers and their babies safe before, during and after the delivery process.

Even during this pandemic, a hospital setting continues to be the safest place for a woman to give birth. Mothers and their babies can be quickly treated with the best quality care in case there is a complication.

View our “frequently asked questions” about having a baby at Miller Children’s & Women’s.

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