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  • What You Need To Know If You're Pregnant With A Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Infection

    Your pregnancy and postpartum care will mostly depend on your pregnancy and your symptoms.
    by Rachel Perez .
What You Need To Know If You're Pregnant With A Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Infection
PHOTO BY iStock
  • No pregnant woman wants to get sick, more so during a global pandemic. If, unfortunately, a pregnant woman is suspected of COVID-19 infection or had already tested positive for the disease, don’t lose hope.

    While there have been reports of newborns catching the disease, limited studies have shown that the virus does not necessariy cross into the placenta — you cannot infect your baby in your womb. COVID-19 infections on pregnant women also show minimal adverse effects, such as premature birth and the infant’s low birth weight.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterates that all pregnant women, including those with confirmed, or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high-quality care before, during, and after childbirth, including newborn care and mental health care.

    Health workers attending to the patient still need to take appropriate precautions to reduce risks of infection to themselves and others, including wearing personal protective equipment and practicing strict hand hygiene.

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    What happens when a pregnant woman is suspected of having COVID-19?

    The WHO recommends that if a pregnant woman displays symptoms of COVID-19, she should be prioritized for testing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, inform your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) right away. Alert your doctor, too, if you have other symptoms such as sore throat, headache, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and weakness or fatigue.

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    If your symptoms are mild with no other pregnancy complications, you will be sent home to self-isolate, just like any other patient under investigation (PUI) or person under monitoring (PUM). (Click here for guidelines on home quarantine). While in isolation, continue to eat well and take your prenatal vitamins as prescribed by your doctor. You also need to coordinate with your local government health unit for monitoring and contact tracing.

    Patients with pregnancy complications or severe respiratory symptoms will be admitted to the hospital in an isolation room primarily to manage symptoms and for close monitoring.

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    What should a pregnant confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient do when it’s time to give birth?

    If you’re having signs of labor, alert your doctor but don’t immediately go to the hospital. At this time, pregnant women, whether healthy, confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 infection, are advised to stay home during the first stage of labor. This helps minimize the exposure of health workers and others in hospitals. Your ob-gyn can guide you on what to do and when to rush to the hospital.

    When going to the hospital, wear a mask. If possible, arrange for a private vehicle to take you to the hospital. When you arrive at the hospital, immediately inform healthcare professionals that you are a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient.

    Should a pregnant confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient deliver via Cesarean section (CS)?

    The Department of Health (DOH) recommends that pregnant women give birth in a health facility and not at home, so doctors can perform emergency procedures, such as a C-section, when needed. The WHO also maintains that C-sections should only be performed when medically necessary.

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    The goal is to deliver the baby as quickly and as safely as possible. Whether you’ll deliver your baby vaginally or via CS and according to your birth plan depends on your condition. You may still be given epidural or spinal anesthesia for labor pain relief. The main differences are that doctors will be wearing protective equipment, and your companion may not be allowed in the delivery room. (Click here for what to expect when giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

    According to the WHO, emergency deliveries, or pre-term births, and pregnancy terminations will be decided upon based on how far along the women is on her pregnancy, the severity of her condition, and the baby’s chances of survival and well-being.

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    What happens after a pregnant confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient gives birth

    Postpartum care is also the same, except you’ll be in an isolated recovery room. Essential newborn care (ENC) or Unang Yakap protocols should also be followed. Note that your baby will be tested for COVID-19.

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    ENC includes kangaroo mother care or immediate skin-to-skin contact to help initiate breastfeeding. WHO stressed that new moms and their infants should be roomed-in together and continue these practices, whether the new moms or the infants have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. But moms should wear a mask and wash hands before and after holding her newborn baby. (Click here to know how to protect your baby from COVID-19).

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