Dr. Jason Paul Helliwell Discusses COVID-19 Prevention During Pregnancy
Dr. Jason Paul Helliwell is an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Advanced Women’s Health Center in Bakersfield, CA. We have Dr. Interviewed Helliwell about the risks pregnant women face with regards to COVID-19 and shares his thoughts on prevention below.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and confusing for everyone. But for women-to-be, or women looking to get pregnant soon, there are even more coronavirus safety questions to consider:
- Is It Safe To Have A Baby Now?
- Are the precautions for pregnant women the same or are there more restrictions?
- Is the risk higher for pregnant women?
- Should expectant mothers be vaccinated?
Read on to find out everything the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) experts have to say about COVID-19 prevention during pregnancy.
COVID-19 Risks for Pregnant Women
First, let’s take a look at the risks that pregnant women face with COVID-19. Dr. Jason Paul Helliwell says that someone who gets pregnant is automatically more susceptible to serious illness than the rest of the population. This is due to one of the many changes pregnancy causes in the body.
In these cases, a “serious illness” can also include COVID-19. If someone is seriously ill with COVID-19, it could mean the person is hospitalized, placed in intensive care, put on a ventilator to help them breathe, or even death. In fact, pregnancy is viewed as an underlying condition. Pregnant women who become infected with COVID-19 can also experience premature birth, which means the baby will be born in week 37 or earlier.
However, do not panic. There are many precautions expectant mothers can take regarding COVID-19 to greatly reduce the chance of contracting the disease.
Preventing COVID-19 During Pregnancy
The first and best thing pregnant women can do to prevent contracting COVID-19 is to get a vaccination. Since August of this year, the experts at the Center for Disease Control recommended the vaccine to the:
- Women who are pregnant
- Women trying to get pregnant
- Women who could become pregnant in the future
- Breastfeeding women
Dr. Helliwell says that after vaccination, pregnant women can participate in most of the activities they had before the pandemic because vaccination prevents serious illness. It is also highly recommended that you remain masked until you are fully vaccinated.
If you are not fully vaccinated, it is important to follow protocols including:
- Wear a mask
- Keep at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoid poorly ventilated rooms
- Avoid crowds
- Practice frequent hand washing
Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Much of what doctors recommend to women during pregnancy can protect against COVID-19 or other serious illnesses.
Keep doctor’s appointments
One of the most important things is to make sure that all health appointments are kept both during and after pregnancy. If there are additional concerns about infection with COVID-19, appointments can also be made via telemedicine to minimize the risk. This means that only appointments are made that are personally necessary.
Schedule safe delivery
Even if the pregnancy is still in its infancy, think about giving birth. Identifying a hospital early allows them to review COVID-19 security logs and create a plan that follows all recommended security procedures.
Other pregnancy vaccines
In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Dr. Jason Paul Helliwell have several other vaccines recommended for use during pregnancy. The first is the standard flu vaccine. It is also recommended that people living in the same household get vaccinated as well to prevent possible spread.
The Tdap vaccination is also recommended. This vaccine protects against whooping cough, which is known to overlap with COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control also state that this vaccine should be taken during every pregnancy, not just once.
Take early symptoms seriously
While visiting a hospital or medical center can be scary during this time, health professionals urge any pregnant woman to see a doctor if necessary. Don’t postpone emergency care out of concern about the pandemic. Hospitals and emergency rooms have protocols in place to protect patients from the effects of COVID-19.
Finally, it is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately if any urgent warning signs or symptoms are observed. This could include things like bleeding or vaginal discharge, severe nausea, chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe swelling, fever, dizziness, persistent headache, or the typical symptoms of COVID-19.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Chills or fever
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose or constipation
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
- Body or muscle pain
As can be seen, many symptoms of COVID-19 have the potential to overlap with other common symptoms. For this reason, it is highly recommended by the team at the Advanced Women’s Health Center in Bakersfield, California that you see a doctor immediately to rule out COVID-19 or possibly diagnose another serious illness.
While pregnancy during a pandemic is certainly stressful, following these guidelines recommended by the experts at the Centers for Disease Control is the best way to stay safe and healthy. Keeping up to date on vaccines, following COVID-19 protocols, and keeping a close eye on possible symptoms are key takeaways from the CDC’s recommendations.