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Birthing precautions during COVID-19: tips for pregnant women

March 29, 2020

Pregnancy during COVID-19

No expectant mother would have anticipated the added stress of a pandemic during the delivery of their child. There are many uncertainties. Some national hospitals are even banning any/all visitors from the delivery room to hinder the spread of the virus, leaving mothers-to-be feeling worried and uneasy without a reliable support system. Above all, it is currently unknown if COVID-19 will affect a woman's pregnancy or a newborn's health.

Current guidelines for pregnant women at Baystate Health

Dr. Heather Sankey, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baystate Health, explains current Baystate Health guidelines for pregnant mothers. Please note that these guidelines could change at any moment based on current data about COVID-19:

Birthing partners

Effective 3/28/20, we will allow the partner who attends the birth to remain with the patient until discharge, with the provision that the visitor not leave the patient room for any reason. The partner will be screened twice a day for signs of infection. 

Preventing COVID-19 in pregnant women

The rules remain the same for pregnant women as they do for anyone:
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice social distancing if one must leave the house. Keep 6 feet from the closest person.
  • Avoid those who may be presenting symptoms.
  • Clean surfaces at home that are touched often.
  • If a pregnant woman suspects that they may have COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, they are advised to self-quarantine and contact their primary care physician or obstetrician.
  • Pregnant women do not appear to have a greater risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 versus non-pregnant people.

Precautions being taken at Wesson Women's Clinic

  • Expectant mothers admitted to Wesson who are experiencing respiratory symptoms (ex. cough, fever, or shortness of breath) are being tested for influenza and COVID-19 and are cared for using appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • All visitors are being screened. Visitors are only allowed into the hospital when a pregnant woman is admitted for labor or a planned birth.
  • Visitors for pregnant women who have suspected/confirmed COVID-19 are not allowed.
  • Visitors with symptoms of COVID-19 are not allowed.

COVID-19 positive mothers

  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 are placed in a negative pressure room and precautions against respiratory droplets/secretions in accordance with CDC and Baystate Health policies are put in place.
  • The baby of a COVID-19 positive mother is tested and isolated until the test results come in. If a baby is also positive, it is reunited with its mother.
  • Breast milk is encouraged through pumping and bottle feeding.
  • The risk of transmitting COVID-19 to a baby during pregnancy or through breast milk is very unlikely.
  • Close physical contact (such as respiratory droplets/coughing) can still transmit the virus to a newborn.

The CDC offers additional information for pregnant women and COVID-19 positive mothers who are breast feeding.

These tips are based on a recent interview with MassLive.com. Read the full story here, and updated news on this topic here.