Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pregnancy, and Abortion

Woman Thinking About COVID-19 and Pregnancy

With the abundance of information on COVID-19, it is hard to sift through how this virus could affect each of us personally, especially if you are pregnant or worried you might be pregnant. As the Nurse Manager at Her Health Women’s Center, I wanted to be sure you had accurate information.

 

What is COVID-19 and how is it spread? 

COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019 and is part of a family of viruses that causes respiratory symptoms which may range from a mild cold to severe disease.  A novel or new strain of the virus emerged for the first time in humans in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. It has now reached pandemic proportions. Pandemic means it is a worldwide outbreak.  It typically spreads through droplets (when someone who is ill coughs or sneezes) and from contaminated surfaces.

 

Am I more likely to get COVID-19 because I am pregnant?  

We don’t know yet.  However, studies do show that pregnant women may be more susceptible to other viral respiratory diseases like influenza or SARS, so make sure you take action to avoid getting sick.  If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, (cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches) please contact your doctor. 

 

Should I take any additional precautions because I am pregnant?

The recommendations for pregnant women are the same as for the general population:

  • Frequent Hand Washing – 20 seconds!!!
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes, mouth, nose.
  • Social distancing – The best way to protect yourself is to physically distance yourself.  This doesn’t mean you have to avoid social interaction. Use your phone and reach out to others, but avoid crowds.
  • Avoid close contact with someone who is sneezing and coughing.
  • Get medical help if you become ill. Call your physician’s office, local clinic, or local community health office for advice. 
  • Don’t smoke.  The use of tobacco can make it more difficult to fight an infection like COVID-19. 
  • Reduce stress – Take a break from social media and the news.  Take a walk outside, watch a feel-good movie, read a good book, play a game, journal, pray, listen to music, take some deep breaths, etc.
  • Take care of yourself – Eat a healthy diet, take your prenatal vitamins, and get plenty of sleep.

 

What if I get COVID-19 in early pregnancy? 

Since the virus is new, this information is not yet known.  One thing to be aware of is that fever can be of concern in pregnancy, especially if it lasts for a long time. If you have a fever (100.4 or higher) you should contact your healthcare provider. Acetaminophen is usually recommended to reduce fever during pregnancy.  Aspirin and ibuprofen are not advised.

 

What if I have other health problems and I am pregnant?  Does that put me at higher risk?

Studies have shown that those most at risk are older adults over age 50 with an increased risk over 65, so you are probably not in that group!  Other medical problems which put people in a higher risk population would include people with chronic lung disease including moderate or severe asthma, serious heart conditions, persons who are have compromised immune systems, people of any age who are severely obese with a BMI greater than 40, uncontrolled diabetes, renal failure, and liver disease.  Again, the main thing will be prevention as listed above. Your doctor will develop strategies to stay on top of your medical care.

 

What if I want to choose surgical abortion?  Is that still an option during the COVID-19?  

Elective surgical abortions are currently being discussed on the state level.  In Iowa, Governor Reynolds’ Proclamation of Disaster Emergency declared a temporary ban on all non-essential or elective (not an emergency) medical and dental surgeries and procedures which use personal protective equipment. Nebraska has a similar ban. We are living in a time of daily, even hourly changes and many hospitals are working tirelessly to save lives and have necessary medical equipment. 

 

What about RU-486? (Also known as The Abortion Pill, Chemical Abortion, Plan C, Medical Abortion or At-Home Abortion)  Is it safe?  

Mifeprex and Misoprostol are the combinations of drugs used to end a pregnancy before 10 weeks.  In order to protect your well-being, America’s Food and Drug Administration has safeguards in place for women who take Mifeprex.  Due to serious health risks associated with Mifeprex, it is legally supplied in America only through a doctor’s office or clinic. Ordering this medication online is both illegal and unsafe.

 

If I get COVID-19, can I still have a healthy baby? 

Looking at the limited information from the small number of pregnant women in China who were infected with COVID-19, all went on to deliver a healthy baby.  There are no known cases of transmission from mom to the baby immediately before or after birth.  In fact, even when mothers were known to have COVID-19, no virus was found in the amniotic fluid, cord blood, breast milk or nasal swab of the infant.  Any severe illness has the potential to cause problems in pregnancy so follow your doctor’s guidance. 

 

To avoid the spread of this disease, Her Health Women’s Center is currently closed under the advice of Governor Reynolds and our Medical Director.  Even though we aren’t available at the office, we are available by phone and would be happy to discuss pregnancy options with you. Please call us at 712-224-2000, or text 712-522-2920 or email info@herhealthwomenscenter.org.


 

As new information is learned, information may change.  Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization are additional sources you can check for updates: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding

 


SOURCES:

Webinar March 27, 2020 – Underlying Medical Conditions and People at Higher Risk for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020, January 8). Retrieved from https://emergency.cdc.gov/coca/calls/2020/callinfo_032720.asp

 

CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity – COCA on Facebook Watch. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/CDCClinicianOutreachAndCommunicationActivity/videos/2518326078494928/

 

Chen, H., Guo, J., Wang, C., Luo, F., Yu, X., Zhang, W., … Zhang, Y. (2020, February 12). Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620303603

 

The MotherToBaby Podcast. (2020, March 17). Retrieved March 30, 2020, from http://mothertobabypodcast.libsyn.com/covid-19-in-pregnancy-breastfeeding

 

Hyperthermia. (2019, July). Retrieved March 30, 2020, from https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/hyperthermia-pregnancy/

 

(2020, March 26). Retrieved March 30, 2020, from https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-state-public-health-emergency-0

 

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Mifeprex (mifepristone) Information. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/mifeprex-mifepristone-information

Disclaimer: The sources cited for this article are found to be reliable; however, Her Health Women’s Center cannot endorse or oppose the entire content of the websites listed. The content of this blog is meant to be used for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical care.