31 May COVID-19: Pandemic to Endemic – Pregnancy and COVID Prevention
As summer approaches, it’s natural to want to break out of the confines of the house and get out and about, enjoying BBQs, beach days, June weddings, and more. Warm weather and sunny days make you want to let your hair down and go mask-less! In addition, there has been a lot of talk about the transition of COVID-19 from a pandemic (disease spreading over multiple countries or continents) to an endemic (disease with constant presence in a specific location). This may give you the feeling that COVID prevention measures don’t matter anymore, but keep in mind this is a “novel” virus, meaning we are still learning a lot about it, especially when it comes to its effects on pregnancy, new mothers, and newborns.
The newest scientific studies show that COVID-19 infections increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, such as preterm births and stillborn babies. You are more likely to get sick from COVID-19 during pregnancy or postpartum because of immune changes during this period. Here’s more information about COVID-19 risks to newborns.
For this reason, it’s a very good idea to stay diligent with COVID prevention measures. Let’s review the basics.
Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Infection and Transmission While Pregnant
These COVID-19 prevention measures are proven to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the virus to you and your family, as well as to others:
- Physical and social distancing – 6 ft minimum
- Quarantining (isolation) when exposed or infected, even if you don’t have symptoms. Check out this quarantine calculator to understand how long you should isolate due to exposure, infection, and your personal risks.
- Improving ventilation of indoor spaces – opening doors and windows during the summer is a great start. There are also many air filtration devices on the market that improve circulation and air quality.
- Respiratory etiquette: teach your family to cough inside their elbows or into a tissue (and then immediately dispose of it). Wash hands afterwards!
- Handwashing for 20 seconds, with soap and water, when hands and fingernails are visibly soiled. Hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is okay for other times. Teach the family to hand wash: before eating/prepping food, before touching faces, after the restroom, after coming home from public places, after blowing nose/coughing/sneezing, after touching animals/pets, after changing diapers, and after caring for others who are sick.
- Avoid touching your face, which happens thousands of times a day unconsciously. Wearing a mask helps prevent contact of infected hands to mouth and eyes – portals of entry into the body for the virus.
- Wear a properly and comfortably fitting mask in public settings and when taking public transportation. Wear a mask (preferably N95) if you are spending time with someone who is sick or working in high-risk settings (medical setting, school or daycare).
- Clean and disinfect the high touch areas in your home regularly: tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, keyboards, mouses, phones, toilets, faucets and sinks, to name a few. Here is a list of EPA approved disinfectants for COVID.
- Monitor you and your family’s health daily and seek medical care for symptoms: fatigue, headache, unexplained aches and pains, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- Stay current with COVID vaccination, which are approved for people aged 5 and older. Keeping up to date with Covid vaccination reduces the risks of infection and severe illness for both mother and baby.²
Staying diligent with COVID-19 prevention measures will reduce your risk of infection and transmission, increasing the likelihood of a safe pregnancy and birth, and a fun and healthy summer for you and your family!
- Centers for Disease Control. February 25, 2022. How to protect yourself and others. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
- Centers for Disease Control. March 3, 2022. Covid-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html