- April 14, 2020
- Michael Allibone
- Posted in Resources
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic. People everywhere are worried about how the disease will affect them. Understandably, pregnant women are particularly concerned with how to prevent COVID-19. Not only do they have their own health to worry about, but they also have the well-being of their babies to consider.
On top of all of the normal worries that come with being pregnant, expectant mothers have many questions about the disease. Is there a way to prevent COVID-19 during pregnancy? What precautions should I take?
The situation is rapidly evolving and there is much we still don’t know. Yet doctors and scientists are working around the clock to find answers.
Here we'll cover what experts currently know about COVID-19 and pregnancy, plus recommendations for protecting yourself from COVID-19 while pregnant.
How Is COVID-19 Impacting Pregnant Women?
As a pregnant woman, you likely have many questions about how COVID-19 might affect you and your baby. One of the most pressing questions is whether or not you are more susceptible to the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is continually updating its website with new information. Here is what experts currently know.
Pregnancy & Vulnerability
An article in Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes that pregnant women may be more susceptible to infectious diseases, especially during their third trimester. According to the CDC, changes occur in pregnant women's bodies that make them more vulnerable to certain infections.
Pregnant women may have a greater risk of becoming seriously ill after contracting viral respiratory infections like influenza or viruses from the coronavirus family. However, the CDC has yet to find proof that contracting COVID-19 is more likely during pregnancy.
It is also unclear if pregnant women who get the disease are more at risk of developing serious complications than the general public.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has data that agrees with the CDC that pregnant women do not seem to be at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. In its February 2020 study on the impact of the disease in China, WHO showed that of 147 pregnant women, only 8% were severely affected by the disease and only 1% were considered critical cases.
Ways to Prevent COVID-19 for Your Baby
A big concern when you're pregnant is whether you can pass an illness to your unborn baby. This is also a concern after your baby is born if you are breastfeeding.
Right now, the CDC states that there is no evidence to suggest that mothers can pass COVID-19 to their babies in the womb or during delivery. Babies born to women who had the disease have all tested negative.
Evidence of the COVID-19 virus in breast milk samples has yet to be found. However, it remains unclear if the virus can be transferred from mother to baby by breastfeeding.
Breast milk does provide babies with protection from many illnesses. According to a review in Maternal & Child Nutrition, several studies have found that breastfeeding protects infants from respiratory illness. Still, it is unclear if COVID-19 is one of them.
Steps to Prevent COVID-19
Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, though experts are actively working on creating and testing one.
Until a vaccine is developed and made available to the public, the CDC recommends practicing social distancing. This means staying at least six feet away from other people. The CDC also recommends avoiding gatherings with 10 or more people and to try to stay at home as much as possible.
If you must go out, UCHealth has recommendations for pregnant women to prevent COVID-19:
- Hand washing is essential. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you scrub the tops of your hands and around your nails, too.
- Use hand sanitizer. Use alcohol-based sanitizers when you can't make it to a sink to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Regularly clean surfaces. Clean high-traffic surfaces in your home frequently. This includes countertops, doorknobs, and light switches.
- Clean your cell phone. Use disinfectant wipes on your cell phone regularly, especially after you go out in public.
- Avoid communal objects. Candy jars, buffets, and frequently-handled items at work or in public places are germ-magnets.
- Stay home if you feel sick. Even if you think you only have a cold, being sick weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable.
- Avoid contact with others who are sick. This lowers your risk of contracting an illness.
Pregnancy comes with unique concerns and can cause your body to react to things differently than normal. Because of this, you should follow all the CDC's recommendations for protecting yourself from COVID-19.
If you still have concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor about ways to prevent COVID-19. Your doctor may have specific recommendations that relate to your pregnancy.
- Sappenfield, E., et al. (2013). Pregnancy and Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723080/
- Centers for Disease Control. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Pregnancy & Breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
- World Health Organization. (2020). Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf
- Duijts, L., et al. (2009). Breastfeeding Protects Against Infectious Diseases During Infancy in Industrialized Countries. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 5(3), 199–210. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19531047
- Craven, J. (2020). COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker. Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society. https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker
- Blocker, K. (2020). Pregnant Women Should Take Precautions to Avoid the New Coronavirus, CDC Experts Advise. UCHealth. https://www.uchealth.org/today/pregnancy-and-coronavirus-experts-advise-precautions/
The information provided represents the general opinions of NTD Eurofins and is not intended to be used as specific advice for any one individual. Individuals should always consult with a physician to obtain specific advice and to receive answers to any and all questions or concerns related to health, wellness, pregnancy, and birth.
Pursuant to applicable federal and/or state laboratory requirements, Eurofins NTD, LLC has established and verified the accuracy and precision of its testing services. Tests are developed and performance characteristics determined by Eurofins NTD, LLC. The methods and performance characteristics have been reviewed and approved by the New York State Department of Health.