COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the lungs and breathing. It is caused by a new coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. It also may cause stomach problems, such as nausea and diarrhea, and a loss of your sense of smell or taste. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus.
Reviewed by: Lisa Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas Last updated: March 25, 2020 at 3:55 p.m.
Current reports show that pregnant women do not have more severe symptoms than the general public. But researchers are still learning how the illness affects pregnant women. Doctors urge pregnant women to take the same steps as the general public to avoid coronavirus.
It’s too early for researchers to know how COVID-19 might affect a fetus. Some pregnant women with COVID-19 have had preterm births, but it is not clear whether the preterm births were because of COVID-19. It’s also not clear if COVID-19 can pass to a fetus during labor and delivery.
The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Pregnant women can take the same steps as other people to protect themselves, including
- washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- cleaning hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- staying home as much as possible
- staying at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
- avoiding people who are sick
Pregnant women who are feeling well do not need to wear a mask. If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms, you should wear a mask while you are around other people. You also should wear a mask if you are taking care of someone who has COVID-19 or has symptoms.
As the virus spreads, it is a good idea to call your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional to ask how your visits may be changed. Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits. You also may talk more with your health care team over the phone or through an online video call. This is called telemedicine. It is a good way for you to get the care you need while preventing the spread of disease.
If you have a visit scheduled, your care team’s office may call you ahead of time. They may tell you about telemedicine or make sure you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 if you are going in to the office. You also can call them before your visits if you do not hear from them.
Pregnant women can stay healthy by following the usual recommendations during pregnancy, including:
Being home a lot and avoiding other people can be hard. The above tips for staying physically healthy also can help your mental health. A few other things you can do to stay mentally healthy include:
- Staying connected with your friends and family, over the phone or online.
- Taking breaks from coronavirus news and social media.
- Telling your ob-gyn or other health care professional if you are feeling sad or anxious.
Times of crisis can be very hard for people in abusive relationships. Abuse at home is known as intimate partner violence or domestic violence. Abuse can get worse during pregnancy. If you need help, call the 24-hour, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline 016 (spain)