If you are pregnant, naturally you will have some questions about COVID-19 and how the virus could affect you, your baby and you birth plan. We want to reassure you that you that we’re staying on top of this evolving situation and you can expect to receive the same great care you have always received from Women and Children’s during this time.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions related to COVID-19:
Am I at greater risk of COVID-19 infection while pregnant?
Because this is a novel virus, little is known about its impact on pregnant women. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With similar viruses and other viral respiratory infections such as the flu, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.
How can pregnant women protect themselves from COVID-19?
During this time, we encourage you to follow recommendations to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by taking these actions:
Is it safe to go to my prenatal appointments?
Our prenatal offices are doing everything they can to reduce risk of exposure for their patients. This includes postponing non-urgent office visits and elective procedures, screening all patients for signs of illness prior to appointments, avoiding waiting areas, canceling group activities, and using telephone visits and telemedicine as much as possible. Regular prenatal care is important to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, so we encourage you to keep your scheduled appointments.
What steps is WDH taking to provide safe care for me and my baby?
Women & Children’s at Wentworth-Douglass is closely monitoring and following CDC, federal, state, and local recommendations and guidance regarding COVID-19. We are screening all patients for respiratory illness, limiting visitors, and ensuring we have the appropriate protective equipment to protect our patients and staff. Obstetrics is an essential component of healthcare, and we can assure you that our midwives, doctors, and nurses are here to care for you.
Can I have visitors when at the hospital for my delivery?
While on Women & Children’s, each obstetric patient is allowed one visitor per day and one support person while in labor & delivery. Visitors are asked to remain in the room with the patient and wear a mask at all times. Please arrange for someone else to care for your pets and other children while you are at the hospital and be sure to bring anything you need (including car seat) with you when you are admitted.
Professionally certified doulas* are considered part of the care team and are not considered visitors.
Siblings under the age of 18 are not permitted to visit at this time. Patients may have one visitor per day (over the age of 18) during the postpartum stay. Visitation period is between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
*Please note: Doulas must be credentialed through a program recognized by Wentworth-Douglass as meeting certain training and education standards. In addition they must have a current influenza vaccine and agree to our safety guidelines while on site. For more information and to have your Doula added to the care team please contact the Women & Children's Center at 603-609-6964.
What changes can I expect when I’m at the hospital?
Currently all pregnant patients will be tested for COVID-19 when admitted for labor and delivery. If you have a scheduled cesarean or induction, your OB provider will discuss with you how to get tested 24-48 hours prior to your scheduled date.
All patients and support people are asked to wear a mask when in the hallways and while staff are present in the room with them.
Jacuzzi: If you test negative for COVID-19 you can use the jacuzzi during labor.
Nitrous: We are able to offer nitrous oxide again as long as the laboring mother does not have COVID-19 symptoms and has a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to visiting the Birth Center.
What should I do if I have symptoms or known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
This information is rapidly evolving. The latest data shows that about 80% of people with COVID-19 will show no or very mild signs of illness. If you have signs of respiratory illness, please call your primary care provider who will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. If you have any pregnancy-specific concerns, you should call your obstetric provider.
If I test positive for COVID-19, what is the risk of passing the virus onto my fetus or newborn?
Currently it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross through the placenta to the fetus. The risk of passing the infection to the fetus appears to be very low. About 2-5% of babies born to mothers infected with COVID 19 have tested positive in the first 24-96 hours after birth. It is currently unknown if these infants became ill at home after hospital discharge, however there have been some cases of infants less than 1 month of age who have been hospitalized with serious infection. After delivery, since the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, precautions will need to be in place to minimize exposure to your infant, including washing your hands and wearing a face mask before touching your infant and distancing yourself greater than 6 feet from the infant when not. We also recommend bathing your infant soon after birth to minimize the potential for infection. The risk of infection appears to be no different if you room in with your infant and take proper precautions, or if you are separated in different rooms. If you are infected with COVID 19, then your newborn will be tested at 24 hours and 48 hours of age.
If I test positive for COVID-19, can I still breastfeed my baby?
COVID-19 nucleic acid has been found in breastmilk, but it is not yet known if infectious virus is secreted in breastmilk. At this time breastfeeding is not contraindicated, and it is still the preferred method of feeding your baby. For mothers with COVID-19 infection, when breastfeeding your baby, you can minimize risk of exposure by washing your hands and wearing a face mask. Or if you choose, breastmilk can be expressed with a breast pump then fed to the infant by someone who is well. Our staff will be here to help you if you find yourself in this scenario.
How can I protect my baby if it test positive for COVID-19?
Should I reschedule my baby shower?
While this is a joyous time and an important occasion, public health agencies such as the CDC have recommended social distancing to limit the spread of the virus. We know this is disappointing and hope you can find other ways to celebrate this time.
We know that this is an unprecedented time for our country and out communities. While we expect you to have questions and concerns, we hope you will find ways to enjoy and celebrate this amazing time in your life.
This information is rapidly evolving. As you seek information, we encourage you to go to credible sources such as:
Coronavirus Updates: https://www.wdhospital.org/wdh/patients-and-visitors/covid19-updates/coronavirus-covid-19-updates
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The outbreak of the coronavirus and COVID-19 may be stressful for you and your family. Here are some resources to support your family’s mental health, including how to talk to children in a reassuring way.
Virtual classes and other tools to care for yourself during this time
Managing Stress & Anxiety
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
If you have signs of respiratory illness, please call your primary care provider who will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness.
If you have any pregnancy-specific concerns, you should call your obstetric provider.
We have compiled a list of trusted online resources, virtual classes and local support.
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