UAB doctor says data about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women is limited

Being pregnant during COVID-19 pandemic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - What should you expect while you’re expecting during a pandemic?

First time mom, Mary Coston Bell, said the pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

But through it all, she said she feels empowered because she’s weathered the storm of the unknown.

Meanwhile, doctors at UAB said there’s still a lot they don’t know about COVID’s effects on pregnancy.

Mary Coston Bell is on baby watch.

Her first child, a baby girl, will arrive any day now.

“We found out that I was pregnant on December 20th and to say that pregnancy has been what we thought it was going to be on December 20th to now August 4th is not at all what we thought it was going to be like,” Bell said.

Bell said she was already a little anxious being a first time mom, and thought the flu would be her only worry.

She got a flu shot back in February, and religiously takes Vitamin C and prenatal vitamins, but the nerves and concerns over COVID-19 linger.

“And there’s just not research on pregnancy and Coronavirus, so you’re kind of going day to day on, ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal, to yes it crosses the placenta.’”

Doctors a UAB admit data about COVID's effects on pregnancy is limited, and based mostly on observational data, which they said has a fair amount of flaws.

But they encourage pregnant women to wear face coverings while out in public, practice good hygiene, and put a cap on time spent with visitors.

[SOT: Dr. Todd Jenkins, Interim chair of UAB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology]

“Vertical transmission is not felt to be a major source at all of transmission from…to infants and neonates,” said Interim Chair of UAB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Todd Jenkins.

“We worry that more of the transmission to a newborn occurs after the birth when a COVID-positive mom is exposed, or dad, is exposed to that newborn,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Dr. Jenkins said so far, there have been one or two reported cases of COVID-19 being transmitted to an infant through breastfeeding.

However, he said breastfeeding and breast milk are still thought to be safe.

He added that pregnant women are not at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, but those who test positive for the virus have a higher risk of being admitted to an ICU and being placed on a ventilator.

He also said mothers and their partners will be screened for COVID-19 upon their hospital arrival.

Only one person will be allowed to stay with the mother during delivery, and that person should plant to stay with the mom and baby for the duration of their hospital stay.

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