Are you worried about you and your baby’s wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
While pregnancy is a wonderful experience, being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenge. Whether you are on your way to work or going to your prenatal check-ups, probably not one day goes by without you being concerned about contracting the coronavirus and the effect that it could have on you and your pregnancy. The idea of giving birth in a hospital filled with COVID-19 patients presents additional challenges and concerns, and restrictions on travel and socializing may alienate you further from your family, friends and support system.
While such fears are justified, you must realize that there are a number of structures in place to help you carry your baby without undue stress and ensure your well-being and that of your baby throughout the course of your pregnancy. Here are additional steps you can take to help optimize your health and that of your baby during your pregnancy.
Never skip your pre-natal check-ups
Go to all your scheduled prenatal appointments; this is very crucial especially during this time of crisis. There are a number of options available to pregnant women during the pandemic to ensure continuity of care. Talk to your OBGYN providers to enquire if they offer telehealth appointments. You only need to go to the office if you are getting an ultrasound, laboratory tests or other screening tests. If you opt for telehealth prenatal visits, request that your healthcare provider help you obtain a blood pressure machine, a digital thermometer and a pulse oximeter so that you can monitor your vital signs from the comfort of your home. Having those items will help you make the most of your telehealth visits. You can also prepare a list of questions ahead of time to discuss during the visit.
Reduce your risk of catching COVID-19
Pregnant women are at higher risk from suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms. A recent study published by the CDC showed that pregnant women with COVID-19 have a 50 percent increased risk of ICU admission and a 70 percent increased risk of being placed on a ventilator compared to non-pregnant women of the same age.
Certain demographic groups are also at greater risk for the disease. For instance, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women that are pregnant have also been found to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Also, if you are older than 35, overweight or obese, or if you suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, you are at increased risk for hospital admission.
Therefore, if you are pregnant with these risk factors, stay in close contact with your health care provider and follow-up with them about any symptoms you may be experiencing. It is essential that all pregnant women take additional measures to minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19 to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications:
- Keep all your scheduled prenatal care appointments
- Wear a mask at work and in public
- Wash your hands frequently
- Maintain social distancing as per protocol
- Call your health provider with any new symptoms or concerns
Further steps that you can take to boost your immune system:
- Follow existing vaccination recommendations. (i.e. influenza, Tdap )
- Eat healthy foods that are high in nutrients (rich in calcium, iron, and folate.)
- Get plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours every night with short naps during the day.)
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
- Do some prescribed physical exercises at home to reduce stress.
- Take additional vitamins and nutritional supplements as recommended by your OBGYN provider.
- Keep a positive outlook. Refrain from watching frequent updates about the pandemic. Your mental health affects the overall well-being of the pregnancy; this can affect the development of your baby’s brain and body.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 contact your health care provider right away.
These recommendations are not meant to treat you. They are only intended to be informational and educational. If you are pregnant and have any questions or concerns, please speak with your OBGYN or health provider. See disclaimer.
I hope this helps!
Marie-Ange Tardieu, MD
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