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Pregnancy and COVID-19: Are expectant mothers at greater risk?

By Dr. Alisha H. Ware

It’s often said that pregnant women are eating for two, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many pregnant women also may be worrying for two. Here is what we know:

To date, the CDC reports that there have been approximately 18,040 cases of COVID-19 and 39 deaths in pregnant women in the United States since the end of January 2020.

There seems to be an increased risk of preterm birth associated with COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 is a newer viral infection, which means we know less about its effects on pregnant women. Currently, pregnant women seem to have the same level of infection risk as women who are not pregnant.

Pregnant women, in general, are more susceptible to severe illness when infected with viruses and can be at greater risk of severe disease, hospitalization and ICU admission. While all pregnant women should be careful, at-risk pregnancies, such as those already at risk for preterm delivery or those with advanced maternal age, require even greater caution.

  • Reducing your risk of infection when pregnant is essential. Some precautions pregnant women should take include:
  • Limiting travel and interactions with others
  • Choosing activities where social distancing can be maintained
  • Ordering online for delivery or pick up rather than exposing yourself to restaurants or large stores
  • Wearing a mask and asking others around you to do the same
  • Washing your hands and/or using hand sanitizer religiously
  • Getting a flu shot as soon as it is available. Influenza is also extremely dangerous during pregnancy.

Prenatal care is still extremely important, and even more so for high-risk pregnancies. Do not skip prenatal appointments. Prenatal office visits are imperative; they allow your doctor to assess growth and progress during your pregnancy.

Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce exposure and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses that would warrant medical attention. If you are feeling anxious, stressed or isolated, discuss these feelings with your physician, as your mental health and wellbeing are vital.

You may have questions about how this pandemic will affect your delivery, and it’s important to realize that the answers to these questions and concerns will continue to change. Regardless of the state of this pandemic, proper medical care and delivery in a well-equipped, well-staffed hospital is still the safest option for you and your baby.

COVID-19 may be with us for a while, and pregnant women must take greater precautions than other women their age. But remember — pregnancy is only nine months, and a healthy baby is worth any additional steps you have to take.

Dr. Alisha Ware is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She practices at Woman’s Clinic PA and is on staff at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport and Garden Park Hospital. Reach her at (228) 388-4816.