How to Protect Yourself Against Covid-19 and the Flu During Pregnancy

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our practice, in either hospital system we practice in (Deaconess Hospital in Evansville and Newburgh or St. Vincent’s Hospital Evansville), or our community at the time I am typing this. However, limiting the spread of this pandemic will require extraordinary measures from the community and nation as a whole. I will not copy the current precautions outlined in other areas, but I would like to express thoughts specific to our patients.

Providing exceptional care in a safe environment for our patients is of prime importance to us. As the COVID - 19 concerns continue to be on everyone's mind and messages from the CDC continue to evolve, we would like to encourage everyone to take some precautions to help ensure the safety of all of us.

From the most recent information from the CDC, COVID-19 is contracted from contact with a person infected with the virus. People potentially exposed to COVID-19 should refrain from contact with other individuals to prevent spread. The recommended social distancing should reduce the spread of the virus within the population, but requires significant buy in from the community. We should all be washing our hands frequently, coughing into our elbow, and avoid touching our hands to our mouth, face, and eyes. In low risk, healthy populations, COVID-19 will likely cause respiratory illness, similar to the Flu, that will generally not require hospitalization, and in most cases will resolve in two weeks. 

However, pregnant women represent a high-risk population due to the changes in the immune system during pregnancy. Similar to the elderly or patients with limited immune systems, COVID-19 may cause a much more serious illness with potential danger to the mother’s health and her unborn child. There is no evidence to suggest the virus will pass to the unborn child through the placenta, amniotic fluid or breast milk, but it could pass to the baby after birth from close contact if mom is infected.  Protecting pregnant women from any exposure to COVID-19 is very important.

With this in mind, we have asked our patients to please call the office and ask the staff to reschedule appointments if they meet any of the following criteria:

  1. If you have traveled outside of the United States or are coming from abroad in the last 14 days.
  2. If you have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
  3. If you think you have the "flu" or "bronchitis".
  4. If you have been in close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID - 19 (coronavirus).

We also ask that our patients not bring family members or friends to the office that meet any of those criteria. We have asked our patients to not bring family and friends with them to the office unless absolutely necessary, and in those cases, limit it to one guest. 

If you are seriously ill and believe you are infected with COVID-19 (coronavirus), you will need to go to the emergency room. The hospital systems are recommending that patients who are ill and believe they may have COVID-19 (coronavirus) call ahead to the emergency room/hospital so they can make appropriate arrangements for isolation, as our community has not had a confirmed case at the time I am typing this.

As for the flu, women can also get vaccinated any time during their pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And, if Dr. Morrison thinks you have the flu, he might prescribe a safe, antiviral medication to help reduce your symptoms.

Be careful with over-the-counter remedies

Before you take anything while you're pregnant, you should talk with your OB/GYN. In general, avoiding medications during the first three months of your pregnancy, which is when your baby’s vital organs develop, will limit risk to the baby. 

One large exception to this is taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to lower fever. Uncontrolled fever in the first trimester is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications. If you have a fever at any time in pregnancy, acetaminophen at the normal adult recommended dosages is safe to take. 

Even though some things may be safe after the first trimester, you should still remain cautious and always speak with Dr. Morrison at the first signs of illness.

For more information on treating a cold or the flu while pregnant, book an appointment online or over the phone with Paul W. Morrison, M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist today.

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