Topic: Pregnant In A Pandemic
Pregnancy has its own unique challenges. Throw in a COVID-19 pandemic and the situation becomes more complicated. With little information available about how coronavirus impacts pregnant and lactating women, it’s important to rely on health care professionals for advice. Erin Clark, MD, chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at University of Utah Health, answers questions about COVID-19 and pregnancy.
How has information about COVID-19 and pregnancy changed since last spring?
It was first thought that if COVID-19 was like other viruses in pregnancy, then pregnant women would have an increased risk of getting infected. At the time, we didn’t know if that was the case because there wasn’t much direct information about COVID-19 and pregnancy. Since then, more information has come out. The best data suggests pregnancy is a definitive risk factor for COVID-19. Pregnant women with severe disease are at an increased risk of experiencing severe or critical illness and are at increased risk of experiencing complications.
Is prenatal care any different during the pandemic?
It looks and feel like normal pregnancy care. There’s no question that here at U of U Health we are doing more virtual visits. Virtual prenatal care visits have proven to be safe, effective, and reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Is it safe to have visitors during labor and delivery?
Over time, we have learned more about exposure to COVID-19 and how to mitigate it. Last spring, visitors outside primary support for labor were not allowed. We have since loosened those rules after realizing how effective masking is and testing women for COVID-19 before delivery. Here at U of U Health, we are now allowing two people to accompany pregnant women during delivery and postpartum care.
How can a newborn be safely introduced to family members who live outside the household?
There is no uniform answer. People need to decide for themselves what is right for them and their family. Some people are waiting for the introduction to occur later, or are doing it via Zoom, or at a safe distance outside. Other people are making introductions in an indoor setting while masked, which poses a higher risk. Vaccinated individuals are a safer introduction setting; however, we don’t yet know whether a vaccinated person can still be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Nevertheless, this is still thought to be a safer situation.
Topic Discussed: Pregnant In A Pandemic