Even in the face of this pandemic, it’s paramount to us that we continue to take the best possible care of our pregnant and postpartum patients. It is our goal to continue to provide the most up-to-date information, keeping you informed so you and your families can stay safe and healthy during this time.
There are many reports about COVID-19 in areas such as New York City and LA with information specific to those areas that may not be applicable here in Chattanooga. We will continue to update the content on this page throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic, in effort to better serve you with the most current and accurate facts.
1. How does COVID-19 affect my prenatal care in the office?
- Our goal is to continue to provide excellent care and reduce your exposure during the pandemic. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 cases in our area. This may affect how we schedule your appointments, and we may delay certain appointments.
- To protect you and maintain social distancing for staff and patients, no one is allowed into the office with the patient unless the patient is a minor. We will let you know if this changes.
- We are still doing all the appropriate testing that is recommended for prenatal care.
2. Birthing classes and breast-feeding classes are being offered again, what do you suggest?
- Keep a list of your questions and go over them with your provider.
- Birthing classes — there is a list of online classes on our website and a list of classes with free access on the Erlanger website.
- Breastfeeding — best help will be in the hospital with lactation consultants and nursing staff. Getting books to review before your delivery is also helpful. Your provider can supply that list, and there are good resources on the La Leche league website. Several books that may be helpful include, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by the La Leche League, “Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers” by Nancy Mohrbacher, and “The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” by Diana West. There is good information on the American Academy of Pediatrics website as well. Please read before the baby gets here.
3. How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect labor and delivery? Should I be worried about the hospital having a safe place for me to deliver? How many visitors can I have in labor? Does it affect getting an epidural?
- The hospitals are working tirelessly to be prepared for the expected increase in hospitalized patients for COVID-19. However, labor and delivery is unique because the number of patients won’t really change, so we know what to expect. We have all the typical resources that we need and there are protocols and processes worked out to care for pregnant patients who have COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19.
- Hospitals have screening in place in order to quickly care for patients with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19. This protects staff and patients. It is safe to deliver in the hospital. The COVID-19 task force for Erlanger’s Women Services does include a Galen Ob/Gyn and this task force is working tirelessly to protect patients and staff and maintain quality care.
- Currently, one visitor is allowed with a patient in labor and delivery and postpartum. In a statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reassured patients that hospitals and birth centers “remain safe places to give birth in the United States.” The organization also “said the emotional support provided by a partner or support personnel, such as a doula, can improve delivery outcomes.”
- Epidurals: if you have COVID-19, the recommendation is early epidural to avoid emergencies. Emergency situations increase the risk of exposure to everyone present. If you don’t have COVID-19 there are no changes in recommendations for epidurals, meaning you can still get one if you want it.
4. Can I Give My Baby COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets so the chance of spreading to the baby is mostly after delivery.
- There have been a couple of reports where a baby may have gotten COVID-19 by vertical transmission (baby gets COVID-19 while the mom is still pregnant). If it does occur, it is uncommon. There are some reports that in rare instances COVID-19 can affect the placenta that can affect the growth of the fetus and possibly increase the chance of preterm birth. The reports from China on babies with COVID-19 at birth show that even though these babies do get sick and need care in the NICU, most do well. Reports on babies suggest that the greatest risk is in babies who have significant underlying health issues.
- Even though we don’t have enough information to give you the exact risk to babies, we do know that the best way to protect yourself and your baby is social distancing, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and wear a mask. We are watching COVID reports carefully and will update this page as we get more information on babies and pregnant moms.
5. Am I high risk for COVID-19 because I am pregnant?
- Pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk for getting sicker, but we don’t have enough information to be absolutely sure. This understanding may change as we get more information.
- Just like everyone else, pregnant women can get really sick and may need to be on a ventilator. From other diseases that moms can get during pregnancy, we know that the risk to the baby is related to how sick mom is. If a mom has mild symptoms, risks to the baby are lower. If mom is on the ventilator, risks to the baby are higher.
6. Can I breast feed?
- At this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is in breast milk.
- If a mom is COVID-19 positive, the way the baby gets COVID-19 is most likely through respiratory droplets because the baby is within 6 feet of mom. If mom is COVID-19 positive but asymptotic, the recommendation is to breastfeed due to its clear benefits while wearing a mask and washing hands beforehand. If mom is COVID-19 positive and experiencing symptoms, the preferred recommendation is pumping and then someone else giving the baby a bottle of breast milk while mom is sick. These recommendations will continue to change as we understand the disease better AND when we can get results of testing more quickly.
7. What is the best way to approach postpartum?
- BE PREPARED!!!
- Food – make food, freeze food, people can still bring food.
- Most people are at home right now so do the deep clean now, set everything up now, pack your bag for the hospital now (and double check), pack snacks. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need that just gets in the way.
- One of the biggest concerns for expecting moms is who is going to help me? The best way to insure that you will have support people other than you and your spouse/partner is to have someone self-quarantine for about 2 weeks before delivery and maintain careful self-distancing during that time and after delivery. Most women can figure this out and find someone, but it does take careful planning.
- Remember to keep your circle small, this is difficult especially if you have other children— you need to keep your circle small to avoid exposing the family, especially the newborn, to COVID-19. Be creative – get your family outside, find hobbies, give them responsibilities. At this time, it is unclear how long we need to keep our circles small; we will continue to update our site as we get more information.
- Prioritize ways to help you sleep. If dad is home, figure out a shift that he can take to help you sleep and that also works with his work schedule. If you have older kids, have them listen out for the baby when you are napping.
8. Where should I get my information on COVID-19?
- Unfortunately, the reporting in the media is creating more fear and anxiety; many are recommending to limit social media.
- Places to look for general information: CDC and ACOG (American College of Ob/Gyns) and Tennessee Department of Health websites.
- Local information: Hamilton County Department of Health website, Galen website (we are updating frequently), Erlanger website (currently the information is mostly general but there are plans for specific information for women’s services), Parkridge website.
Please remember that information is changing rapidly. We will be updating this at least weekly to keep you informed.
Source Information and to learn more please visit: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists