I'm pregnant. What do I need to know about COVID-19?
Whether you recently discovered you're pregnant or are getting ready to welcome your bundle of joy in a few weeks, it's likely you have questions about how COVID-19 may affect your pregnancy journey and birth. Here are answers to some of the most common pandemic-related questions we've received from concerned moms-to-be just like you.
If I get COVID-19 while pregnant, will it harm my baby?
The thought of contracting COVID-19 while pregnant may be scary, but rest assured that the best information we have available suggests that COVID-19 is not transmitted to babies in utero. There also are no known birth defects associated with COVID-19. As a precaution, you may want to have a detailed ultrasound if you're infected in the first or early second trimesters of pregnancy. Moms who develop a severe infection may need additional ultrasounds to follow their baby's growth.
Am I at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 while pregnant?
You're not at greater risk of getting the virus while you're pregnant. However, you are at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 than a non-pregnant woman, which increases your chances of a preterm birth and cesarean delivery. The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines like masking, distancing and washing your hands.
How has the pandemic affected prenatal appointments at Gundersen?
One of the biggest changes centers on who can accompany you to the clinic for routine care. Stay up to date with our latest visitor guidelines. Depending on the type of appointment and your preferences, we've also moved some visits online and over the phone.
Are there birthing classes available during the pandemic?
Some classes were canceled at the start of the pandemic, but we're happy to offer a new online Labor and Birth course meant to empower your pregnancy and birth journey. Some other specialized classes, such as if you desire a water birth, also are available.
I'm a frontline worker. Should I continue to work while pregnant?
While evidence shows that women who are pregnant are at increased risk for more severe illness than non-pregnant women if they acquire COVID-19, with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) there does not seem to be an increased risk for contracting COVID-19 while pregnant. In other words, it's safe to continue to work with the proper PPE.
Should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I'm pregnant?
We understand that this question is weighing on a lot of future mammas' minds. It's important to know that being pregnant is not a contraindication to receiving COVID-19 vaccine, and the increased risk of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy should be weighed against the relative lack of data for COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy. Several of our pregnant clinicians have already received the vaccine. You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy here.
Labor and delivery
Is it safe to deliver at the hospital right now given the current surge of COVID-19 in the La Crosse area?
Absolutely. We are taking extraordinary precautions to stop the risk of COVID-19 spread, including increasing cleaning in every area, requiring masks inside all our buildings, monitoring staff and patients for symptoms and much more.
Will I be tested for COVID when I arrive at the hospital to give birth?
Yes. All Labor and Delivery patients are tested for COVID-19 on arrival if a test has not been done in the last 72 hours. If you're having a scheduled induction or cesarean section and know your admission date/time, you may be directed to an outpatient testing site for a pre-admission COVID-19 test within 72 hours of your planned admission. Your care team will work with you to ensure you know exactly when and where you need to be tested. We are not currently testing a patient's support person for COVID-19.
Earlier this year, some hospitals didn't allow laboring women to have a support person with them. Will I have to give birth alone?
No. We know that women and their babies often have better outcomes when they have continuous support during labor. That's why we currently allow every pregnant woman to have one support person by her side during birth. While our visitor guidelines are being updated as we monitor the pandemic, we will always try our hardest to ensure pregnant women have a loved one in the room to help them welcome their baby into the world.
When I deliver, will I be separated from my baby due to COVID-19?
Our goal is to never separate a mom and her baby unless it's medically necessary (e.g., your baby is born early and needs to receive care in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). If you have COVID-19 when you deliver, we'll help you take extra precautions to protect your baby so you can stay together as much as possible.
Will I have to wear a mask during labor?
You will need to wear a mask any time you're not in your room and until your COVID-19 results are available. Since your support person won't be tested for COVID-19 upon your admission, they must wear a mask throughout their entire visit, including in your room. (Breaks for eating and drinking are permitted, of course.)
What happens if someone in my house gets COVID-19 after my baby is born?
Contact your baby's doctor or pediatrician. They'll let you know what steps to take next. In the meantime, continue to wear a mask, social distance from the person who is ill, wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Note: Never put a face mask on your baby.
If I get COVID-19, can I pass the virus to my baby by breastfeeding?
Breast milk is unlikely to transmit COVID-19. As long as you take safety precautions, like wearing a mask and practicing good hand and breast hygiene before every feeding, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the risks. Our nursing and lactation staff will work with you while you're in the hospital and as an outpatient to help you be as comfortable, safe and successful as possible breastfeeding your baby.