If you are pregnant, you may have some questions about COVID-19 and how the virus could impact you, your baby, or your birth plan. Willamette Valley Medical Center (WVMC) wants to reassure you that we’re closely monitoring this evolving situation and preparing accordingly. As such, you can expect to receive the same high quality care you have always received from our Birthing Center during this time.
Below are some answers to commons questions related to pregnancy and COVID-19:
- Am I at greater risk of COVID-19 infection while pregnant?
We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), available information suggests pregnant women seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant. However, pregnant women do 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 pregnant women to follow guidance from the CDC and take the following actions to avoid potential exposure:
- Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Keep away from people who are sick.
- Limit close contact, crowds, and travel.
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Is it safe to deliver my baby at the hospital?
According to the American College of Obstetricians, delivery in a hospital setting is still the safest option for both mom and baby even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Birthing Center at WVMC is closely monitoring and following CDC and Oregon Health Authority recommendations regarding COVID-19, as well as the guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and American Academy of Pediatrics. Obstetrics is an essential component of healthcare, and we can assure you that our providers and nurses are well-trained and prepared to care for you.
- Is it safe to go to my prenatal appointments?
Regular prenatal care is important to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, so we encourage you to keep your scheduled appointments. Contact your healthcare provider to identify the safest way for you to receive care.
- What steps is WVMC taking to provide safe care for me and my baby?
The Birthing Center at WVMC is closely monitoring and following CDC and Oregon Health Authority recommendations regarding COVID-19, as well as the guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and American Academy of Pediatrics. We are screening all patients, 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 providers and nurses are here to care for you.
- Can I have visitors when at the hospital for my delivery?
WVMC has made the difficult decision to limit hospital visitors as a precautionary step to help ensure the safety of our patients, employees, and community. Our Birthing Center is allowing one visitor to be with mom during their delivery. These visitors will be screened prior to entry and will be asked to wear a mask/face covering. We feel it important for our patients to have support during this important life moment.
- What should I do if I have symptoms or have been exposured to someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, 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?
According to the CDC, the risk of passing the infection to the fetus appears to be very low. Mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread. A very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. However, it is unknown if these babies got the virus before or after birth. 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.
- If I test positive for COVID-19, can I still breastfeed my baby?
In limited studies, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk; however, we do not know for sure whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk. For mothers with COVID-19 infection, breastmilk can be expressed with a breast pump and then fed to the infant by someone who is well. If you choose to feed your infant at breast, you can minimize risk of exposure by washing your hands and wearing a face mask. Our staff will be here to help you if you find yourself in this scenario.
We know that this is an unprecedented time for our community. 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.
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.