GAITHERSBURG, Md. - COVID-19 is raising new concerns for pregnant women across the DMV who are now searching for answers as to how the virus could impact them and their unborn baby.
There are a lot of unknowns with coronavirus and not enough data coming out of china and italy to give women clear cut answers. But it's certainly having an impact on the pregnancy process.
At the George Washington University School of Medicine and at the University of Virginia Health System, OB doctors are still seeing patients, but have drastically reduced the number of in-person pre-natal visits and are instead using virtual visits, or tele- health to minimize the chances of exposure.
Jade Song of DC is seven months pregnant and a new mom-to be. She had some questions that FOX 5 took to the experts.
“Being a new parent is already hard enough, now we have to worry about so many other things, for example, if i get it, will I be at higher risk, to develop serious illness?” asked Song.
“In general, COVID-19 in young people tends to be relatively mild with fever, so for any pregnant woman we advice they keep their fever down, and if they have shortness of breathe they should be evaluated....but it doesn’t appear the virus is more aggressive in pregnant women, vs someone else whose not pregnant,” said Dr. Donald Dudley, UVA Director of Fetal Medicine.
“It may be an increased risk for pre-term birth for women who contract COVID-19, so it’s in the best interest of women who are pregnant to do their very best to avoid exposure,” said Dr. Nancy Gaba, GWU School of Med Chair of OBGYN.
Song says: “I worry that if i get the virus, will it affect my breast milk?”
“Right now the recommendation is to separate the baby from the mother, which is traumatizing for the family and the mother in particular, but it doesn’t mean she can’t breast feed, she can still express breast milk,” said Dr. Gaba.
“Will my husband be allowed in my delivery room?” asks Song.
“When it comes to labor and delivery, our institution has a one visitor per patient limit now, I know some hospitals are eliminating all visitors, it’s sad when it’s such a big moment in a family’s history,” said Dr. Dudley.
Many hospitals in the DMV are allowing one person in the delivery room, but expectant moms are advised to contact their health care provider as protocols change from one hospital to the next. At UVA, the designated person who can be in the delivery room still needs to be screened for fever or symptoms every time they enter the hospital.
Both Dr. Gaba and Dr. Dudley don't believe coronavirus can be passed from the mother to her unborn baby, they say it's rare-- although data is limited.
The CDC has very little info about The exact impact of the virus on infants who contract it.
The main message to moms-to-be is:
- Stay at home
- Practice Social Distancing
- Wash hands
- Avoid Hospitals
- Avoid sick people