Doctor outlines precautions pregnant women can take to protect themselves from COVID-19

Cleveland Clinic’s Tosin Goje, M.D., says it’s critical for pregnant women to attend all prenatal appointments. (Cleveland Clinic News Service)

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it’s also a time when many changes take place in a woman’s body. Some of those changes make respiratory infections, like COVID-19, especially concerning for a mother-to-be.

Cleveland Clinic’s Tosin Goje, M.D., said recent evidence suggests pregnant women may face more severe illness if infected with COVID-19.

“They had increased hospitalization and they had increased ICU admissions and they had increased incidence of mechanical ventilation when they compared them to women of the same reproductive age with COVID-19 that were not pregnant,” she said.

Pregnancy changes a woman’s immune system to protect her growing baby, making it more difficult to fight off infection. In addition, heart and lung functions increase during pregnancy to support both mother and baby. When COVID-19 invades, it affects these areas that are already strained by pregnancy, making it difficult for a woman’s body to fight back. That’s why it’s especially important for pregnant women to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

“Always wear a face covering when they go out, especially when they cannot social distance, meaning they cannot be 6 feet apart from people,” Goje said. “Limit how much they go out in crowded places as much as possible. They need to maintain hand hygiene. If they work outside the home, clean every high-touch area.”

Goje adds that it’s also critical for pregnant women to attend all prenatal appointments. She encourages women to call their doctor if they notice decreased fetal movement or if they’re not feeling well. She said doctor’s offices and hospitals are taking extra measures to protect patients from COVID-19, so don’t hesitate when symptoms arise.