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What to Expect When You’re Expecting During COVID-19

Published on May 06, 2020

Pregnancy is such a special journey marked by excitement, joy, and awe, along with some moments of wondering what to expect — especially as you near delivery and anticipate life with your new baby. But during this unprecedented time, those moments of uncertainty may feel more intensified. Knowing what to expect and planning ahead can help reduce some of the stress you’re experiencing.

The Importance of Staying Home in Your Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Stay Home, Stay Safe. One of the single most important steps you can take to help shield your exposure to COVID-19 is committing to keeping yourself and other household members safely quarantined at home 

during your last several weeks of pregnancy — especially once you reach 36 weeks.

This means asking your partner and any other working household members to work remotely so they’re leaving home as little as possible. Other children should be kept home as well. Even if they’ve been interacting with neighbors and other friends at a safe six-foot distance, now may be the time to make arrangements for more home-based activities.

Ask Others for Help with Essentials. While you will need to leave home for final appointments with your OB, seek the help of loved ones or neighbors who can pick up groceries and other essentials for you. Asking your entire household to severely limit exposure to others is critical in preventing both yourself and other household members from contracting COVID-19 before you give birth.

Be Mindful of Items You Touch. Take special precautions with mail, groceries, and any other essentials dropped off by neighbors or professional shoppers. Toss any packaging in the garbage immediately, wipe down essential items with soap and water (or household cleaner), and practice frequent handwashing throughout the day. Check out these great hand-washing tips to ensure you’re properly washing away any germs.

Caring for Other Children and Pets While You’re Delivering

Your originally intended plans for your other children and/or pets while you and your support person are at the hospital delivering may no longer be feasible — or advisable — during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other children. If you plan for another family member or loved one to watch your other children while you’re delivering, strongly consider asking this person to quarantine for 14 days before your expected due date in order to limit his/her exposure to COVID-19. If it makes more sense for your child(ren) to stay with this person in his/her own home, it is still recommended to ask this person and other household members to quarantine for 14 days before caring for your child(ren) and continuing to quarantine during your child(ren)’s stay.

Pets. Kennels and vet offices may be closed due to an extended stay-home order. Moreover, asking a pet sitter to stay in your home while you’re gone could ultimately increase your family’s exposure to COVID-19 once you return home. Instead, consider asking a loved one or neighbor to care for your pet(s). It might be more optimal to ask that your pet(s) physically stays with this caretaker until you can return home. If this isn’t an option, ask your chosen pet sitter to wear a mask when they come inside. Once you’re back home, clean or disinfect all commonly touched surfaces (think doorknobs, countertops, the lid to your pet’s food, etc.) and practice frequent handwashing.

Learn Your Delivery Options and Have a Back-up Plan In Case of Sickness

If you plan to deliver at a hospital, familiarize yourself with any new policies and restrictions. At Munson Healthcare, we have new visitor and screening policies* in place to ensure the safety of you and your baby.

Here are some important decisions to consider as you plan for your delivery:

  • Choosing a back-up support person in case your support person does not pass the pre-entry health screening.
  • Determining whether you will stay or separate from your baby once he/she is born if you are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 before delivering.
  • Having a back-up caretaker to care for your baby once he/she is released from the hospital if you are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

While planning for the worst-case-scenario(s) can be stressful, having the reassurance of an alternative game plan should the unexpected happen can ultimately put you and your loved ones at more ease.

Expecting During COVID-19

Monitoring Your Symptoms Up to Delivery

As recommended above, strictly limiting you and your household’s exposure to others is the best way to prevent contracting COVID-19 during your pregnancy. If you or someone you live with does leave home, it’s important to monitor any change in your health. Your delivery support person should follow the same steps.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you think you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your OB provider immediately. You can also talk to a Munson Healthcare nurse with any symptom related questions by calling [insert number] and following the ask-a-nurse prompt. This option is available daily from 7 am - 7 pm.

Keeping Your Newborn Safe at Home

Once you are back home with your new little one, it is natural to go into protective mode. The best things you can do to keep you, your newborn, and other household members safe include:

  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water or a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Continue to strictly limit exposure to others
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself/ the baby and others outside of your household.
  • Restrict visitors who have not quarantined for 14 days and considering alternative ways of introducing your new baby to friends and family, such as sending photos and videos or via live video chats like Zoom.
  • Continue to monitor your symptoms, as well as those of other household members.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue (then throw it out) or your bent elbow.
  • Isolate anyone who is showing COVID-19 symptoms to a separate room. Ask this person to wear a mask and practice frequent handwashing if they come near or touch the baby.
  • Keep your baby’s healthcare provider informed of any new symptoms he/she or other household members may be showing.

Masking your newborn. For safety reasons, it is strongly recommended that you do NOT mask your baby. Doing so could compromise his/her breathing airways. Instead, strictly limit your baby’s exposure to others.

Breastfeeding Your Newborn During COVID-19

If you planned to breastfeed your baby and are able, breastfeeding is still recommended according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even if you suspect you are sick with COVID-19 or you test positive, you can still breastfeed. Here are a few tips if you are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19:

  • Wear a facemask
  • Washing your hands with soap and water before and after touching your baby
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched

This is still an incredibly exciting time for you and your loved ones. Although there are many questions about how long the COVID-19 crisis will ultimately last and when life can begin to return to normal again, we hope you can continue enjoying the many joys and wonders of pregnancy. Remember to get plenty of rest and try to participate in any home-based activities you enjoy while you wait to meet your new baby.

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Expecting During COVID-19

Do you plan to deliver at a Munson Healthcare hospital? Visit our new maternity section on expecting during COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.