Living through the COVID-19 pandemic is unsettling for everyone, but raises unique concerns for pregnant women and their families. Philip M. Bayliss, M.D,, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with LG Health Physicians Maternal Fetal Medicine, addresses some common questions patients are asking.
Can I take ibuprofen for pain relief after I deliver my baby?
At the very beginning of the pandemic, there were concerns that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) could worsen a COVID-19 patient's symptoms. However, there is no evidence of that. The CDC and National Institutes of Health do not recommend restricting the use of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. If you have no other health concerns, you may take ibuprofen following delivery.
Because I'm pregnant, should special restrictions be placed on my job or my job responsibilities so I'm not exposed to COVID-19?
The CDC recommends pregnant women adhere to the same safety measures recommended for everyone. There are no specific COVID-19 job restrictions for pregnant women. Additionally, there is no evidence at this time to suggest pregnancy increases your risk of acquiring COVID-19 or puts you at greater risk of complications from the disease.
My partner and I are trying to get pregnant. Should we wait until there is more information about COVID-19 and pregnancy?
There are many considerations in planning a family, including your personal health, social situation and desire. You should make your decision about pregnancy based on these factors, not COVID-19. Current research shows it is not likely that COVID-19 is passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or labor. It is always important to talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.
What are the risks if my baby catches COVID-19?
While the true risks are uncertain at this time, should your baby become infected with COVID-19, your pediatrician will coordinate the appropriate care, working closely with neonatologists and infectious disease specialists.
Will I need a C-section if I have COVID-19?
At this time, having COVID-19 doesn’t indicate a need for early delivery or a C-section. Your obstetrician will offer guidance on whether a vaginal delivery or C-section is the best option for you. If a woman is seriously ill or is experiencing complications because of the virus, the delivery team will make recommendations based on what is best for both mother and baby.
Am I allowed to have my support person with me during delivery?
At Women & Babies Hospital, each laboring woman may have one support person of her choosing present during delivery. The support person will be screened for temperature, symptoms, and possible exposure to COVID-19 prior to entering the hospital. They will also receive a mask to wear during their stay.
Should I make changes to my birth plan?
Birth plans should always be flexible and part of an ongoing conversation with your delivery team. The team’s top priority is the safety of you and your baby, as well as honoring your birth wishes as much as possible. If a mother is severely ill, it is likely some aspects of a routine birth plan would be altered for safety.
Am I at higher risk for pregnancy complications if I have COVID-19?
Currently, there is not enough data to know if COVID-19 causes pregnancy complications. Early findings, however, indicate it may depend on how severely ill the mother becomes.
There is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 causes miscarriages or birth defects. This is something that will need to be studied in years to come. However, we do know that infections with high fever during pregnancy are associated with increased risks to the baby. Women with COVID-19 need to be followed closely by their provider.
At this time, there is no reliable evidence to indicate if COVID-19 can be passed on to your baby in utero. We are not seeing newborn infants test positive at birth.
Am I at higher risk for COVID-19 complications if I'm pregnant?
Pregnancy itself does not make a woman more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or experiencing more severe symptoms of the virus. This is great news, because that was not the case with other severe respiratory illnesses like influenza A and swine flu.
However, because pregnancy does suppress the immune system, once sick, you can become sicker much faster. Also, underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, can increase your risk for more severe illness.
Should I still go to my prenatal appointments?
Obstetrical care is considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend you keep your prenatal appointments, especially if your provider has determined you need additional care during this time.
Many providers are using alternative types of visits to limit risk, or are delaying certain tests if not time-sensitive—all in keeping with American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommendations.
The best advice is always to follow your doctor's recommendations.
If I have COVID-19, do I need to isolate myself from my baby?
If a mother has tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends separation of baby and mother for the health and safety of both. These recommendations are based on the severity of the illness and the baby's risk. At Women & Babies Hospital this will be a shared discussion between a patient and her healthcare team. Ultimately, it is the mother's choice.
What is Women & Babies Hospital’s policy on COVID-19 testing for laboring patients?
Women & Babies Hospital has adopted a universal COVID-19 testing protocol for all women admitted for delivery. This mirrors the same protocols being used by large numbers of hospitals across Pennsylvania and the country.
Knowing a woman's test status helps the healthcare team take the most appropriate measures to protect everyone’s safety.
Visitation and testing guidelines are posted on the Lancaster General Health website and will be updated regularly to address new information and new recommendations. As much as possible, patients' wishes and choices will be discussed and honored by delivery teams.