You’ve made it through months with moments of excitement and joy, probably also with worry, nerves and wonder — and now the time has finally come for your little one to make their way into the world. At the same time as a global pandemic. The spread of coronavirus has many soon-to-be-parents feeling even more anxious, and perhaps alarmed, but we’re here to tell you that everything is (still) under control — your birth plan may just look a little different.
D. Ashley Hill, MD, is the AdventHealth Medical Group Medical Director of obstetrics and gynecology who is here to calm your concerns and assure you that AdventHealth is taking all steps to protect expecting moms and their babies.
Pregnancy and Coronavirus
Currently, while experts are still researching past cases and learning more about coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that they “do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result.” However, Dr. Hill says, “I would consider pregnant women to be part of the high-risk category, and therefore they should take extra precautions.”
Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus
“So far, there are no instances that we know of where a mother has passed coronavirus onto her newborn baby,” Dr. Hill says. And while we don’t have a lot of information because not many cases of this coronavirus in pregnant women have been reported, we know from other coronavirus strains, such as MERs and SARs, that this virus can have more of an impact pregnant women.
The CDC and Dr. Hill advise that women who are pregnant take the same steps as the general public to prevent infection, such as:
- Avoiding people who are sick
- Covering your cough
- Washing your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
While Dr. Hill does not think women need to put themselves in total isolation during pregnancy, he recommends being extra cautious by only being around others when necessary. “Limiting exposure to others is true even during doctor’s visits now,” Dr. Hill says.
Labor and Delivery
The time has come! If you go into labor, plan to proceed to the labor and delivery unit as you normally would, unless you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, particularly shortness of breath. “If you are going into labor and feeling short of breath, call your physician or midwife before coming to the hospital,” advises Dr. Hill. As you near the end of your pregnancy, shortness of breath may be something you experience because of your growing baby, and that is completely normal. If your shortness of breath is combined with a fever and feels more like pneumonia, this is when a phone call should be made to your doctor or midwife.
Once you’ve been admitted to labor and delivery, you may notice some changes that we’ve implemented because of coronavirus, starting with visitors. At regular doctor’s visits in the office, during delivery and after you’ve welcomed your newborn, the number of guests who can be with mom (and baby) will be limited. This will vary based on the hospital or doctor’s office, and since things continue to change quickly, it’s best to check directly with your provider as to their current visitor policy. “At this time, we are encouraging patients to limit the number of people they bring with them, and this will usually mean zero to one person, depending on the office and circumstance,” Dr. Hill explained.
We know this may be disappointing for many new moms, but right now the focus is on the health and wellbeing of patients and limiting the number of people will help prevent the spread of germs.
New Parent Education and Resources
Towards the end of pregnancy, many expectant parents take part in classes and tours available at AdventHealth. We are committed to providing a safe, healing environment for our patients, staff and visitors, and because of rapidly changing conditions due to coronavirus, we feel it is in the best interest of our patients to cancel all in-person classes and tours. However, we have several virtual options available and you will have the opportunity to speak to a Birth Experience Coordinator at your convenience to answer any questions you may have surrounding your upcoming delivery.
If you had a class scheduled, a Birth Experience Coordinator will be contacting you by phone or email with these options below. Also, you will be fully reimbursed for any class that is cancelled.
- Virtual tour including a phone consult with Birth Experience Coordinator.
- Online class information and educational resources via the Baby Place Academy App.
- Reschedule classes for a later date.
Information surrounding coronavirus is constantly updating and evolving, so we ask that you stay up-to-date by visiting the CDC, as well as AdventHealthforWomen.com, and speaking to your doctor about any concerns you might have.