Most of the time when you find out you're pregnant it's great news. You're excited. You can't wait to gather your friends and family together for the big announcement. Maybe even host a gender reveal party. And then you remember it's 2020. How are we going to do that? There have been so many changes this year and I feel like the motto for 2020 should be "things look a little different". This is definitely the case when it comes to having a baby. What are the screening practices for pregnant patients? What happens if I test positive for COVID and go into labor? Do I have to wear a mask during my labor? These are just a few questions I asked Heather Boyd, MD, an affiliate physician from The Christ Hospital.
What are your screening practices for patients?
Dr. Boyd: If you are having a planned induction or C-section, you will be screened six days in advance. If you come in "unscheduled" in labor, then you will get tested upon arrival.
Am I allowed to have a support person? Same person? Are they allowed to come and go?
Dr. Boyd: You are allowed one support person, who will be allowed to stay the whole time. It does have to be the same person the entire stay. In order to minimize exposures, we ask that they minimize the amount of trips in and out of the hospital, but they will be able to go to the car or go home as needed.
Do I have to wear a mask the whole time?
Dr. Boyd: We ask that you and your support person wear a mask while staff are in the room.
Does my support person have to be tested?
Dr. Boyd: Your support person does not have to be tested,
What happens if I test positive?
Dr. Boyd: If you test positive before an elective procedure, you may be asked to delay it for 4 additional days to complete the 10 days after being tested. If you test positive upon arrival to the hospital, you will remain on the labor and delivery floor, but will be in a special negative air pressure room. Instead of going to postpartum after your delivery, you will remain on labor and delivery in this room. You still get to have your support person with you, who will be asked not to leave the room. Staff who come in your room will wear full PPE for their protection.
What happens with my baby if I had or have COVID?
Dr. Boyd: Your baby stays with you, and the nursing team will counsel you on strategies to minimize spread to your baby.
Is it possible to pass COVID to my baby if I have it when I deliver? Or to have a baby born with COVID?
Dr. Boyd: The data from other countries suggests that vertical transmission while pregnant is rare. Your doctor may suggest other interventions or studies if you have COVID while pregnant, but it is unlikely to pass COVID to your baby. A recent study from Italy also reports that it is rare to transmit COVID to your baby if you have it during delivery, even while rooming together and breastfeeding. The pediatrics team can give you further guidance on your specific situation while you are in the hospital.
Can I get the COVID vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Dr. Boyd: Regarding the COVID vaccine in pregnancy or breastfeeding, the studies that include pregnant and lactating women are ongoing. There is no reported data, but governing bodies such as ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) and ABM (Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine) state that pregnancy and breastfeeding should not be a reason to withhold the vaccine. There are no specific recommendations, so this is an individual decision you may want to discuss with your doctor. Additionally, there are no fertility concerns at present with the vaccine - it has not been studied enough to determine long-term effects. There was a recent article I read about cross-reaction of antibodies with a placental protein. By this logic, you would make more antibodies to the actual virus than to the vaccine, so you would be better off getting the vaccine.
Are the procedures for going home with baby different if I have COVID?
Dr. Boyd: No, they are not. As above, the pediatrics team can give you further guidance and suggestions before you leave the hospital.
These guidelines are subject to change, but one thing that won't change is the expert care you will receive at The Christ Hospital! The year 2020 will be something we will share with our children and future children. It definitely is going to be an interesting conversation. Learn more about The Christ Hospital Birthing Centers.