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COVID-19 Resources and Visitor Information for Pregnant Patients

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Pregnancy and COVID-19

Are pregnant women more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and are they at increased risk for severe illness and mortality with COVID-19?

At this time there is no evidence pregnant people are more likely to get COVID-19. However, according to the CDC, pregnant people have an increased risk of severe illness including admission to an intensive care unit, requiring a ventilator or death, if they contract the virus compared to people who are not pregnant. In addition, they could face complications such as pre-term birth. 

I am pregnant. How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

The same general rules apply to pregnant and non-pregnant adults:

  • Consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Limit in-person contact with people who may have been exposed to or may be infected with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Avoid people outside your household who are not wearing a mask.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often using soap and water for 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid crowded places and social gatherings; avoid unnecessary person-to-person contact.
  • Practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet away from others outside your household.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant?

We strongly recommend pregnant and lactating people get the COVID-19 vaccine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Fetal Medicine both recommend pregnant and lactating people get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect against infection. In addition, data suggests the vaccine may also be beneficial for the baby. A study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology studied pregnant and lactating women. Antibodies were discovered in umbilical cord blood and breast milk, which indicates the vaccine may offer protection to both the mother and baby.

Learn more about the vaccine and pregnancy here.

Can I pass COVID-19 to my fetus during pregnancy?

The data published in scientific journals thus far does not provide clear evidence that COVID-19 can be passed from mother to the baby during pregnancy. However theoretical risk still exists.

At this point there are no data on the effects of COVID-19 in early pregnancy, but other coronaviruses have not been transmitted to or caused abnormalities in developing fetuses. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a very different type of virus from Zika, which is known to transmit to the fetus during pregnancy and negatively affect fetal development.

After birth, infants can acquire COVID-19 through respiratory droplet transmission (through the air), just as adults can. At Yale New Haven Health, it is recommended that COVID-19 positive mothers take precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of the disease to their newborns.

We use shared decision-making between the patient and their care providers to determine the optimal location for the ongoing care of the newborn baby and the mother. Options include rooming-in or room separation with the newborn cared for in a separate room from the mother. In mothers who are asymptomatic, the preferred location for the neonate is rooming in with the mother while utilizing social distancing in the room. At 24 hours of life, the baby will be tested for COVID-19.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted during breastfeeding?

To date there are no data to suggest that the virus can be passed to the baby through breast milk. Moreover, breast milk remains the best source of nutrition and protection against many illnesses. However, a mother who tests positive for COVID-19, or is under investigation for COVID-19, can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets or during direct contact. Therefore, precautions are recommended during breastfeeding to reduce the chance of transmission from the mother to the newborn. These precautions include hand-hygiene and mask wearing while preparing to breastfeed and during breastfeeding of their infant. If an infected mother chooses not to nurse, she may pump her milk after appropriate hand hygiene.

What should I do if I am pregnant and experience symptoms of a respiratory illness?

You should call your OB provider if you experience a fever of 100°F or above OR any of the following: cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, new sore throat, new chills, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or sudden loss of taste or smell. Additional resources can be found by calling the Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 call center at 1-883-ASK-YNHH. Any persons with symptoms of viral illness should begin self-isolation to avoid exposing others.

Which symptoms of COVID19 infection are considered severe and warrant immediate evaluation?

Please seek immediate emergency assistance if you are unable to get out of bed; develop new shortness of breath; chest pain; fast heart rate; difficulty speaking in complete sentences; coughing more than one teaspoon of blood; unable to keep liquids down; experience signs of dehydration like dizziness with standing; or becoming less responsive or confused.

Should newborns be kept in isolation for a specific period of time?

Precautions should be taken to minimize the chance your newborn develops COVID-19. Limit visitors to see your new baby. Keep distance between your baby and people who do not live in your household or who are sick. Bring your baby to its newborn visits. It is important to remember that children younger than age two years should not wear masks.

Are babies more at risk of developing a serious illness from COVID-19?

Children are generally less likely than adults to have serious COVID-19 disease. However, of children infected, infants under 1 year can develop more serious illness. Families should monitor for fevers, lethargy, vomiting/diarrhea, difficulty breathing or shallow breathing and poor feeding. These are the same recommendations given outside of a pandemic.

I have other kids – what do I do about them when I am in the hospital?

It is important to make safe childcare plans for your children, as well as backup plans in case the person you had planned to watch your children gets sick. Ideally you should choose someone who is vaccinated. If the care giver is not vaccinated, it is best that they do not have any high-risk conditions for COVID-19 (lung problems, heart problems, or age over 65 years old.)

Before Delivery

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you are an outpatient and experience new onset symptoms concerning for COVID-19 infection, we recommend you discuss this with your primary obstetric provider to assess if outpatient testing needs to be performed. Testing in the outpatient drive through sites is done by appointment and per physician’s order only. Our COVID-19 call center is available 7 days a week from 7 am to 7 pm to answer COVID-19 related questions and may help set up outpatient testing: 833-ASK-YNHH. All women admitted to a Yale New Haven Health hospital for childbirth undergo COVID-19 testing at the time of admission. Testing guidance is evolving rapidly, and testing indications continue to change.

My OB provider has suggested less frequent prenatal visits, or visits over the phone or via video. Is this safe?

It is important that you attend all of your prenatal visits. Many practices have successfully added telehealth into regular prenatal care. This means that some of your regular prenatal visits may performed through telehealth instead of in person. Some common things that can be done over telehealth include monitoring home blood pressure, checking in to see how you are feeling and answer questions about your pregnancy, and monitoring blood sugars in patients with gestational diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider about what options are available in their office to accommodate all of your prenatal care needs.

For Telehealth visits, you will need the My Chart app on your phone. The office team can help you get that setup if you need help.

What should I do and what should I expect to happen if I am pregnant and have pregnancy related concerns (e.g. contractions, leakage of fluid, decreased fetal movement, vaginal bleeding, etc.)?

If you have any pregnancy-related questions, call your OB provider. If your pregnancy-related issues need evaluation, you will be invited to the hospital for an evaluation. You will be provided with a surgical mask upon arrival and you will be asked to keep it on throughout your stay in the hospital as you are able to do so.

If you have any signs or symptoms of viral infection, you will be assessed and cared for in a room which is specifically designed to contain respiratory infections. Part of your initial evaluation may be done by a video port. During your stay your providers will be wearing personal protective equipment. If you are admitted or meet specific testing criteria, COVID-19 testing will be performed.

Can I bring a support person to my prenatal appointments or ultrasounds?

Yes. You can now bring a single support person (an adult, age 18 or older) to your prenatal appointments and ultrasounds. A newborn baby can also accompany the parent to their postpartum visit.

I wanted to see if I qualify for Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) benefits for food during my pregnancy and postpartum for food and if needed, for formula, but I went by their office and they are closed – what should I do?

WIC is working remotely. They can verify your eligibility over the phone and get WIC paperwork from your providers via fax or by verifying information over the phone. They will mail you an EBT card and then reload it electronically. Choose the office you want to work with and give them a call. 

Day of Delivery

Is it safe for me to come to the hospital to give birth?

Studies show that delivery at a hospital is safest for you and baby. Extensive precautions are taken with every patient to prevent the spread of infection. Rooms and equipment are deeply disinfected after each patient. Our staff is trained on how best to prevent infection as well as be able to provide the labor support and guidance you need during your birth. In addition, we are prepared to respond to any complications that may occur during labor and birth for both healthy women and those that have higher risk pregnancies.

How is Yale New Haven Health System keeping newborns safe amid COVID-19?

Multidisciplinary teams of physicians and nurses from our nursery work closely with Infection Prevention to create a safe environment for newborns. In an effort to limit exposure, visitors to the postpartum unit and the neonatal intensive care unit are restricted to one support person. All visitors are screened for COVID symptoms upon entry to the hospital.

All healthcare workers and visitors wear masks at all times to limit the risk of exposure to potential asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers. We ask our adult patients to wear a mask as much as they are able to during their stay. We work closely with our families and outpatient pediatricians to ensure that newborns can be discharged safely to home in a timely manner.

Are there visitor restrictions?

We continue to monitor the amount of COVID-19 infections in and around Connecticut and we will adjust our visitor policy to reflect optimal patient support balanced with creating a hospital environment that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 spread.

See our Visitation Guidelines for current visitor information

I had been planning to work with a doula, what do I do?

Doulas and their clients have been getting very creative about working together remotely via FaceTime or Zoom. In addition, many doulas have been working with their clients prior to labor to help them prepare for the birth process. If desired, your doula is eligible to be the single visitor for your delivery hospitalization.

I was planning to deliver at Yale New Haven Hospital's Saint Raphael Campus. Can I still do it?

To optimize care of all out patients in the era of COVID-19, the Vidone Birth Center has relocated to the York Street Campus. Although the location has changed, your Vidone Birth Center childbirth team remains the same. You will continue to experience the same attention to care you would receive at Saint Raphael campus.

Please call your OB providers to answer any additional questions you have regarding the move.

At Yale New Haven Hospital, there is also the Obstetric Comprehensive Care Unit (OCCU) specifically to care for women with COVID-19 and their newborns. The unit provides the full spectrum of pregnancy and post-partum related care. We are able to care for women in all stages of their pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as postpartum care and neonatal care.

Can I leave the hospital early to minimize my time there?

Yes, you can leave as early as 24 hours after delivery as long as you are recovering from childbirth as anticipated. If you had a cesarean delivery, you may be ready for discharge as early as 2-3 days after the delivery. There are some essential newborn tests that occur at 24 hours of age and we want to make sure those get done prior to leaving the hospital.

What else may have changed for my inpatient stay?

To promote a safe labor and delivery experience, we continue to limit the amount of time our patients and their support persons spend outside of their rooms. We continue to supply all the in-room amenities to assist with the labor process including birthing balls and rocking chairs. In addition, some of the earlier pandemic changes have reverted to our practices prior to the pandemic. This includes availability of nitrous oxide for pain control during labor and birth. We continue to have the availability of narcotic and epidural analgesia for mothers who desire it as well.

Home

How can I help myself and my newborn stay safe after discharge home from the hospital?

In warmer months, many parents of newborns will want to be outside to get fresh air and exercise. Consider the risks of COVID-19 to you and your baby before you decide to go out for activities, other than healthcare visits or childcare. Vaccination of the primary newborn caregivers will significantly lower potential spread of COVID-19. There are many health and personal well-being benefits to spending time outside and incorporating regular exercise into your postpartum routine. Outdoor activities are among the safest to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. When you choose to go out, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your newborn from COVID-19. Keep 6 feet of distance between your baby and people who do not live in your household or who are sick. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. An unvaccinated caregiver should always wear a mask, unless they are in a location where they are not going to come within 6 feet of another person. Children under the age of 2, including newborns should not use face coverings. Continue to practice good hand hygiene after returning home and keep the stroller clean by wiping it down periodically with mild soap and water or by using an antiseptic wipe.


More Resources

Highlights of YNHH Virtual Town Hall - Women's Health Services

 

Watch the Complete Town Hall Event, April 23, 2020

Watch the Complete Town Hall Event, May 7, 2020

Additional YNHHS Women's Health Services Virtual Town Halls

Watch the Greenwich Hospital Town Hall Event, June 24, 2020

Watch the Bridgeport Hospital Town Hall Event, June 2, 2020


Questions?

Call 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644).

Yale New Haven Health is offering a call center for patients and the community who have questions about COVID-19. Healthcare professionals from the health system are available to answer your specific questions 7 days a week, 7 am – 7 pm. 

Yale New Haven Health includes Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Westerly Hospital, Yale New Haven Hospital, which includes Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, and Northeast Medical Group.