There’s no way around it: the coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the globe and it’s scary. And when people get scared, they tend to panic and seek answers on the cesspool that is their aunt’s Facebook page wherever they can. Pregnant women may be feeling especially vulnerable right now. So in an effort to dispel some of the misinformation out there, I consulted Dr. Daniel Roshan, MD, an OB/GYN practicing at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine, to break down how the virus may impact pregnant women.
Are Pregnant Women More At Risk Of Contracting Coronavirus?
The short answer is it doesn’t seem so. According to Dr. Roshan, pregnant women have so far not been found to be more susceptible to the coronavirus than the general population. That being said, “in general pregnant women are at higher risk to get infections,” so it’s important to take precautions, even if there’s no heightened risk of contracting coronavirus per se. There’s also nothing indicating that a pregnant woman who has contracted the virus will necessarily pass it on to her fetus, as Dr. Roshan notes that “coronavirus hasn’t been shown to cross the placenta and so far no congenital cases reported.” In other words, there haven’t been any cases reported at birth. Thank goodness for small miracles, human and otherwise!
OK, But Could There Be Other Risks To The Fetus If A Pregnant Woman Has Coronavirus?
So while a fetus likely can’t contract coronavirus from an infected mother, Dr. Roshan did note some potential risks associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome, otherwise known as ARDS, which occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs of the lungs. Because a severe case of coronavirus can lead to respiratory complications, Dr. Roshan mentioned that “[i]f a pregnant patient gets really sick with coronavirus and develops ARDS, the fetus will be at risk of premature labor and delivery.” These may not be the only complications, however, so check with your doctor to make sure they don’t have any other concerns.
I’m Pregnant And Think I May Have Coronavirus. What Should I Do?
While the best course of action is to take all relevant precautions to avoid infection, it’s inevitable that some of us are going to get infected. If you think you’re one of the unlucky ones, don’t panic just yet. Dr. Roshan recommends following the current guideline of self-isolation and monitoring for symptoms. If your symptoms are mild and don’t include fever and shortness of breath, you may be able to stay home and recover from there. However, if you’re experiencing high fever and shortness of breath, you should go to the hospital to be more carefully monitored.
What Precautions Should Pregnant Women Take Right Now?
There are a number of precautions pregnant women can take to avoid coronavirus, and the good news is they are the precautions that all of us should be taking. Dr. Roshan recommends the following:
- Staying home as much as possible
- Keeping six feet away from others as much as possible
- Hydration, particularly keeping the mouth wet
- Gargling with warm or salt water
- Taking a vitamin C supplement
- Washing hands for at least 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching the face
- Keeping warm
And, of course, you should consult your doctor as needed, especially if you are experiencing symptoms.
Is There Anything Else Pregnant Women Should Know?
Other than taking the above precautions, Dr. Roshan’s main piece of advice is to take this pandemic seriously and not wait until it’s too late: “[m]any in the US took it lightly until they heard someone they know or been in contact with has it and then they panic.” Instead of being reactive, we can all do our part to stop the spread by taking the relevant precautions now while we wait for a resolution and, hopefully, an eventual vaccine. At the risk of sounding like an extra in High School Musical, we’re all in this together.
So there you have it. While there’s no denying that this pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down yet, pregnant women can take comfort in the fact that they’re no more at risk than the rest of us. They have enough to worry about, after all.
Images: Fallon Michael / Unsplash