Tips for facing the challenge of pregnancy during a pandemic

Childbirth is a complex, life-changing event on its own, and the COVID-19
pandemic has created even more challenges during each stage of pregnancy
for expecting and new parents. If you’re in this situation, here’s what you
can do:

  1. Get your COVID-19 vaccine
    and ask those who are around you to also get vaccinated.
  2. Have a plan
    for childbirth and coming home to help you feel prepared and safe.
  3. Keep an eye on your mental health
    during pregnancy and after delivery.
  4. Stay connected with loved ones, even if it can’t be in person.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe During Pregnancy?

YES! The CDC reassures us that the

COVID-19 vaccine is safe during pregnancy and for those who are
breastfeeding
. It is also safe for people who are

trying to get pregnant

or

may become pregnant

in the future.

Not only is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant people, but it’s an
important way to keep mom healthy. We now know that those who are pregnant
or were recently pregnant are at a

higher risk for severe illness

from COVID-19. This includes having a

higher risk

for preterm birth, hospitalization, and death.

There is another potential benefit of getting vaccinated while pregnant —
protecting your baby! Studies show that

vaccinated moms transfer antibodies to their baby

through the placenta and

breast milk
. Since infants and very young children are not yet eligible for the
COVID-19 vaccine, this

could help protect them against COVID-19
.

Limited - IBXinarticleimagepregnancy.jpg

The bottom line: Pregnant people have a higher chance of having a bad
outcome if they become infected with the COVID-19 virus than they do from
getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Improve your chances of staying healthy (and
keeping your baby healthy) by getting vaccinated.

Plan Ahead for Childbirth

Pandemic or not, deciding on a

birth plan

has always been a part of pregnancy planning. Now, with COVID-19 in the
picture, it’s more important than ever to consider exposure risk and
comfort level when creating a birth plan.

Whether you will deliver in the hospital or a birthing center, figuring out
where to deliver is a unique and individual decision best made after an
open discussion with your obstetrician or midwife. They can help you
determine an appropriate setting, where the anticipated needs of both you
and your baby can be met. In addition, you should ask about COVID-19
policies in place to see whether that impacts who will be with you during
delivery or afterwards.

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) members can enroll in the

Baby BluePrints® program

for individualized support throughout pregnancy and after giving birth.
Registered Nurse Health Coaches can also help with pregnancy safety and the
pandemic and provide helpful resources. Members who are expecting can call
1-800-598-BABY to enroll.

Decide on a Plan for Bringing the Baby Home

Your birth plan isn’t the only thing that needs to be carefully considered.
You’ll also need to decide on your approach for what will happen when you
bring baby home. It’s important to protect babies from illness, especially
in the first months of life, but COVID-19 presents additional things to
consider.

Be sure to communicate your plan clearly to your family and loved ones so
there aren’t any surprises once your baby arrives.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Limit in-person visitors
  2. Require family members and visitors to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19,
    but also for flu and whooping cough (called DTaP or Tdap)
  3. Require all visitors and siblings to wear a mask around the baby
  4. Wear a mask when in public or around visitors
  5. Be willing to have visits at a distance (even outdoors) and avoid having
    visitors hold or kiss the baby
  6. Know the

    signs and symptoms of COVID-19

Of course, anyone who is around the baby should wash their hands frequently
(or use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available).

Take advantage of

free resources

and talk to your doctor to plan for your baby’s arrival.

Keep an Eye on Mental Health

Let’s be honest: Even in the best of circumstances, navigating the first
few weeks and months after a baby is born is a serious undertaking! It can
be helpful to keep a daily routine, including showering, eating
nutritiously, staying hydrated, and getting as much rest as possible.

In addition to caring for the baby, a new mother may be dealing with
anxiety, mood changes, exhaustion, discomfort, and changes in appearance.
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by all these changes — and with
the stress of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these feelings are likely
exacerbated.

Here’s a great resource that explains the signs of postpartum depression
and anxiety:

Action Plan for Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth
. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (or to recommend help, if you are worried
about a loved one). There are also numerous free in-person or virtual

parenting support groups

in Greater Philadelphia.

Stay Connected with Doctors and Loved Ones

While it is important to practice social distancing to keep baby safe from
COVID-19, I encourage new mothers not to isolate themselves. Staying in
touch with loved ones — even virtually — can help moms feel supported.
Phone calls and video chatting are easy ways to check in, receive help, and
stay connected.

It’s critical to make and keep all recommended doctor’s appointments for a
newborn. Pediatricians use these appointments to ensure that your baby is
growing properly and to look for any developmental issues.

Did you know that Independence members who deliver in a hospital can
receive home care visits during the days following delivery through the
Mother’s Option benefit? These visits are designed to check in on the
health and progress of both mom and baby. Talk to the hospital discharge
planner or your baby’s pediatrician to set up an appointment with an
approved Mother’s Option home care provider.

Lactation counseling is another covered benefit for members. Members can
find a list of in-network lactation consultants using the

Find a Doctor tool
. In addition, Independence Health Coaches can provide initial
breastfeeding support and connect members to health-related resources and
information. To reach a Health Coach, members can call 1-800-ASK-BLUE or
send an email by logging in at ibx.com and
selecting Email a Health Coach in the Health and Well-being menu.

This article was originally published on

IBX Insights
.


About Dr. Dolores Roman

Dr. Dolores Roman joined Independence Blue Cross in 2019. As a 20-year
veteran of emergency rooms in and around the Philadelphia area, Dr. Roman
has dealt with every kind of emergency. Now as a medical director at
Independence, Dr. Roman is involved in utilization management, case
management, and quality improvement. What Dr. Roman loves most about this
job is the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in order to enhance
the health and well-being of those served by Independence Blue Cross.

https://www.phillyvoice.com/tips-facing-challenge-pregnancy-during-covid-19-pandemic-059991/

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