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COVID-19 cautions when pregnant

Special to Wesson News

What special precautions must expectant mothers heed during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis?

The good news is that com- pared to other viral infections, COVID-19 does not appear to cause an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects, says Dr. Marty Tuck- er, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). “Addition- ally, if a pregnant woman or her newborn baby contracts COVID-19, it appears that the chance of severe illness is low,” Tucker says.

At the same time, she adds, we all need to follow the recommendations given to us by public health agencies, our government authorities and our employers -- social distancing, avoiding travel, avoiding contact with people who are or may be infected, and being vigilant of symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, shortness of breath, sore throat and cough.

Based on guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Tucker answered these questions that concern expectant mothers: I am pregnant.

Am I at higher risk of contracting COVID-19?

Pregnancy changes your immune system, making you more susceptible to some viral respiratory infections. But data so far indicates pregnancy does not make someone more susceptible to COVID-19.

How might coronavirus affect my pregnancy?

Although data from the pres- ent COVID-19 pandemic is limited, other coronavirus infections do not show increased rates of miscarriage or still- birth. Other viral infections during pregnancy, such as influenza, have been associated with low birth weight and preterm birth. Having a high fever early in pregnancy may also increase the risk of certain birth defects.

Can I transmit COVID-19 to my baby during pregnancy or delivery?

The few case studies of babies born to mothers with COVID-19 published in peer-reviewed literature showed that none of the infants tested positive for COVID-19, although a mother may trans- mit infection to her infant through close contact after birth.

Is it safe for me to deliver at a hospital where there have been COVID-19 cases?

Hospitals are taking great precautions to keep patients and health care providers safe. I am a health care worker.

Should my doctor excuse me from work since I am pregnant?

You may continue to work in a clinical setting and should ad- here to standard precautions, limiting exposure to patients who are or may be infected with COVID-19, particularly through aerosol-generating procedures -- intubation, air- way suctioning, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and sputum collection. If you are exposed to COVID-19, self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If you develop a fever of 100.4° F or greater, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or gastrointestinal symptoms, stay home from work and call your obstetrician to arrange a follow-up if symptoms worsen.

I work in a school, the travel industry or other high-risk setting. Should I stay home from work?

Ask your employer about what is being done to protect employees and minimize the risk of infection. Wash your hands often. Practice social distancing with six feet of space between you and others, if possible.

Should we delay trying to conceive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We do not know if the virus lives in semen or can be sexually transmitted.

We plan to travel during the pregnancy or shortly after our baby is born. Is this OK?

Avoid places where large numbers of people gather -- airports, for example. Even traveling by car in the United States increases your risk to exposure.

Will the hospital separate me from my newborn and keep my baby in quarantine?

If you do not have COVID-19 and have not been exposed to the virus, the hospital will not separate you from your baby.

Can I breastfeed or pump for my child if I have COVID-19?

It does not appear that COVID-19 can be passed though breast milk. With proper washing techniques of pumping parts, milk can be effectively pumped and stored. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for the newborn as it has natural immune boosting properties.

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