COVID-19: What Pregnant Women Need to Know
Community Health Network is resolute in our dedication to the health of our expecting mothers and babies. A vital part of staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic is staying informed.
We’ve put together this list of commonly asked questions about giving birth during these uncertain times, as well as an explanation of temporary policy changes and restrictions we’ve put in place to protect you and your growing family.
Your Delivery Plan
We recommend talking with your OB or midwife regularly for guidance on your birth plan. Please call your provider’s office to arrange a remote appointment. To keep your family as safe as possible, you can speak with your provider over the phone or a video visit. If your provider recommends an in-person appointment, you will be directed to an appropriate location for care. Please note that if you are COVID-19 positive or have been experiencing symptoms and have been directed by your provider’s office to receive in-person care, the appointment may be with a different provider than your usual provider.
Am I at higher risk for COVID-19 while I’m pregnant?
Researchers don’t know if pregnant women are more likely to get COVID-19, but pregnancy can cause changes to your immune system that can cause any viral illness to be more severe. You should take extra safety precautions during this time such as:
- Wearing a face mask in public
- Washing your hands often
- Using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available
- Staying at least 6 feet away from anyone not a part of your household
- Staying away from anyone who is sick
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces every day
- Not traveling if it's not urgent
Is it safe to give birth at a hospital?
If you are planning to give birth in our hospitals, we advise that this is still the safest plan. All of our rooms are private, individual suites where you will have a safe and intimate experience for the duration of your stay. The risks of home birth vary with each woman and each pregnancy.
To ensure the safety of our patients and caregivers, we are taking extra safety precautions in all of our hospitals and sites of care.
- All visitors are screened upon entry and again during the stay.
- All patients and visitors are provided with face masks and are required to wear the masks whenever the provider is in the room.
- Our caregivers are required to wear face masks.
- Delivery patients displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are checked into L&D rooms located away from other L&D rooms upon arrival.
- Common areas of our sites of care are disinfected frequently and thoroughly.
Reach out to your provider if you have any questions about our safety precautions.
Are maternity education classes still available?
We now offer virtual options for some of our childbirth education classes, including Birth & Baby, Breastfeeding Basics, Childbirth Refresher and Expectant Dads. For descriptions of classes and more information about how to register, click here. Please note that all in-person classes are unavailable until further notice. Community Anderson and Community Howard patients may enroll in "North Indy" classes until Anderson and Kokomo classes resume.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The COVID vaccination has been approved for persons 16 years and older, but the vaccines were not tested in pregnant women and currently there are no clear recommendations for vaccinating these women. However, pregnant women are a high-risk group for COVID-19, as infection poses an increased risk of preterm birth, severe disease requiring ICU admission, and death, compared to non-pregnant women.
- Both the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The decision to vaccinate women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should involve a discussion between a woman and her provider to assess individual risk.
- Based on the current information about COVID-19 infection in pregnancy and the new vaccine, women who have risk factors for severe infection such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ethnic minority and/or healthcare workers should be given the option to get the vaccine.
- Women who are considering or undergoing assisted reproductive technology treatment should contact their fertility provider’s office for guidance regarding the vaccine.
In order to protect you and your baby, we have temporary visitor restrictions in place for maternity and midwifery services.
These changes to our visitation policy will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and protect the health of all our patients and caregivers. We understand that this is a frustrating and inconvenient situation, but we assure you that you and your family will have proper support while these restrictions are in place.
What are the current visitation guidelines?
Starting March 18, 2021, you will be allowed two (2) authorized support persons/visitors designated for the duration of your stay. The visitors may visit at the same time, as well as leave and return throughout your stay, during normal hospital visiting hours.
- In addition, a labor coach/doula is permitted for labor only, and should be screened, follow posted guidelines, and properly credentialed upon arrival to the facility.
NICU departments allow two (2) parents OR authorized adults with open visitation hours.
Any visitor showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who doesn’t pass a screening will be asked to leave the hospital.
How can I contact my friends and family during my stay?
All of our delivering hospitals have a tablet device in each room equipped with FaceTime and Skype. You can video chat with your loved ones who aren’t able to visit during your stay. Please note that you will need an Apple ID to use FaceTime or a Skype account to use Skype. If you don’t have an Apple ID or a Skype account, these apps will prompt you to create an account using your email address. Set up is easy and only takes a few minutes.
Are certified doula services still available?
Yes. If you’ve arranged for a certified doula, she can be in the room in addition to your permitted visitors.
Please note that your doula must be able to provide credentials before they may enter the hospital. If you intended to use an unlicensed family member as a birth coach, unfortunately at this time they will not be allowed entry unless that individual is one of your permitted visitors.
What personal items can I bring to the hospital?
You can bring a small bag with personal clothing and your baby’s car seat.
After Your Baby Is Born
We understand that you’ll probably have just as many questions after delivery as you did before. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Is my newborn at risk for COVID-19?
Babies are a high-risk group for infectious diseases of all kinds, not just COVID-19. Rest assured that your newborn will receive the same exceptional care at Community as always to keep them healthy — in addition to the extra precautions in place during this situation.
Since COVID-19 is a novel disease, there isn’t a lot of research on how it may affect pregnancies. That being said, there’s currently no evidence to suggest that an infected mother would give birth to an infected child.
Is it safe to breastfeed?
Yes. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk.
If you suspect that you’re developing symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself and call your provider. You can pump and have a healthy family member feed your baby until you’re sure of your condition.
Can friends and family come visit my newborn at home?
Even people who don’t show symptoms of COVID-19 may carry the disease, and can pass it along to you and your family. To keep your newborn as safe as possible, it’s in your best interest to hold a virtual visitation. That way your loved ones can meet your newest addition without exposing them to risk.
If I have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been experiencing symptoms, should I have skin-to-skin contact with my baby after delivery?
The safety and health of our moms, babies and families remain our highest priority during this time. A symptomatic or COVID-19 positive mother may have skin-to-skin contact with her newborn and should wear a mask and practice hand hygiene before each feeding or other close contact with her newborn.
As an added layer of protection for the newborn, the mother’s support person should also wear a mask and practice hand hygiene when providing hands-on care.
When not providing hands-on care, the mother should maintain a reasonable distance from her newborn within the room when possible.
How should I protect my baby at home if I am positive for COVID-19 or have been experiencing symptoms? What if someone in my household is sick?
Once the baby is home, any sick members of the family should remain separate from the baby and follow home isolation precautions. If the mother is feeling unwell, another healthy adult in the household should care for the baby, including feeding the baby expressed breastmilk. Home isolation and separation precautions should continue until the unwell individual has been symptom free for 7-10 days and/or without fever for 72 hours without taking medication to reduce fever. If the mother is feeling unwell and another caretaker is not available, the mother should cover her nose and mouth with a face mask, homemade mask or a scarf and practice hand hygiene before each interaction.
How can I get support if I’m experiencing postpartum depression?
Having a baby is a joyous occasion, but it doesn’t always feel like it. You’ve probably heard the term “postpartum depression” — more accurately called perinatal depression and anxiety — but you might not realize how common it is. At least one in seven new moms will experience the condition, and 60% of the time it starts before or during pregnancy.
A great way to get support is to talk to people just like you. Our Virtual Perinatal Support Groups meet twice a week for about 45 minutes each, and offer you a chance to meet other new moms who are also struggling with mood changes or the transition to parenthood.
Sessions are free to attend, even if you aren’t a Community patient. You don’t even have to worry about registering — just email us at bhintegration@eCommunity.com for details on how to join:
Tuesdays at 11 a.m. hosted by Rebekah Jensen, LCSW
- Pregnant and postpartum women welcome
- For more information: 317-621-7998
You don’t have to face it alone. No matter where you live or where you get care, we hope you’ll join us!
If you have questions about your upcoming delivery, please call your provider’s office. For more information about COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, see this page.