Doctor gives advice for expecting mothers amid coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is a concern for many of us, but also adds extra stress for expecting mother.

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald, MD, joined ABC7 Chicago to offer guidelines for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. McDonald said one of the most important tips is the same thing officials have been stressing to everyone - social distance. She said to avoid going to the store unless you must. If you do, she recommends wearing a face mask and don't touch it until your clean your hands.

The doctor also recommended you take your shoes off at home and change clothes after returning from outside.

As always, wash your hands.

If you develop symptoms, Dr. McDonald said to call your provider to seek testing.

Symptoms to look out for include, a fever greater than 100.4, new onset cough, sore throat or shortness of breath. You could also experience body aches; chills; new onset vomiting after 1st trimester; diarrhea; loss of sense of taste or smell; or itchy, painful or red eyes that are unrelated to seasonal allergies.

If you have symptoms, you should try to get testing, Dr. McDonald said.. You should socially isolate and if possible, delay delivery until you have been without symptoms for at least 72 hours.

If delaying delivery is not possible, you may need to be separated from baby until the disease has run its course and symptoms have resolved for three days to prevent transmission tot he baby. After that time period, the new mom should wear a mask and still limit direct contact to avoid transmission while asymptomatic.

Dr. McDonald said at her institution, if a person has active disease or has had less than 3 days since symptoms resolved, they are not allowed a support person and baby will be separated from them for the safety of baby. She said they are only lifting precautions if a person has had 40 days since the last positive test.

Breastfeeding should continue if possible, but care needs to be taken to keep droplets from mom away from baby. The mother should wear a mask and wash her hands during pumping. Dr. McDonald said they don't think the virus transmits during pregnancy or breastfeeding, but obviously can during close contact.

She said that although current data does not yet indicate that pregnant women are at higher risk for acquiring COVID-19, pregnant women are more susceptible to other respiratory infections like influenza and precautions should be taken.

The doctor pointed out that if a person is positive, though delivery can be challenging without a support person and knowing baby will need to be separated, the mother should try to focus on the benefit of not transmitting the virus to a support person or baby.

She also said it is still flu season through May, so pregnant women should receive an inactivated flu vaccinations too to reduce the risk of flu, or co-infection with flu and COVID-19.

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