The HER Foundation is here for you regardless of what is going on around the world. This pandemic is especially concerning to us because pregnant women have a reduced immune system to prevent rejection of the baby. This makes them more susceptible to colds and flus in general. However, to date, experts are unsure if pregnant women more susceptible to COVID-19.
Learn more on navigating HG through this difficult time.
(Updated April 5, 2020; Blog is updated regularly.)
Preventing COVID-19 obviously is the best option so wash your hands with soap frequently and thoroughly and take extra precautions to avoid anyone possibly exposed to the virus, especially those sick or exposed within the last four weeks. With many HG moms already isolated due to avoidance of triggers, life may not change dramatically.
Info about pregnancy/breastfeeding and COVID-19:
- Research doesn’t find babies born to mothers with corona virus are infected prior to birth.
- No evidence suggests higher rates of defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth due to COVID-19.
- The popular medication, hydroxychloroquine, may be safe to use during pregnancy.
- No evidence currently suggests COVID-19 can be passed via breastmilk and the immunity transferred from breast milk to baby helps protect them from illness.
- Mothers with COVID-19 may need an alternate caregiver for a short time.
Based on leading medical society and CDC guidelines, we would like to offer the following recommendations for you to consider and discuss with your healthcare team.
- First and foremost, if you feel you are getting sick with a viral respiratory infection, schedule a telemedicine consult to evaluate your safest option for evaluation and treatment. There is currently no validated treatment for COVID-19.*
- If you had HG previously and are not pregnant but considering it, think about waiting until the pandemic is over to avoid a risk of needing medical care when resources are overwhelmed. Consider using 2 methods of contraception until you are ready.
- Avoid play dates and playgroups, especially if you plan to become pregnant, or are pregnant, to reduce the risk of exposure to viral illness.
- Women with a history of HG may feel stressed by being required to isolate themselves. Surround yourself with family support, and seek professional assistance via telemedicine if needed.
- If you recently delivered:
- Know that telemedicine can be of help for lactation and psychological support.
- Ask your family to review the signs of postpartum mood disorders and trauma to ensure you get help if needed.
- Stay vigilant about self-protection to protect your baby, too.
- Talk with Postpartum Support International and the HER Foundation for support.
If you currently have HG:
- Consult a health professional if you are unable to keep fluids and/or food down or feel confused or dizzy.
- Get evaluated for COVID-19 if you have a fever, diarrhea, sudden loss of taste and smell, cough up blood, bluish lips, and/or experience shortness of breath or chest pressure.
- A scarf or mask to cover your face may offer some extra protection from COVID-19. Diligently follow the guidelines for social distancing, staying home, hand-washing and not touching your face without cleaning your hands first.
- Engage family help to monitor your health at home:
- Weigh yourself daily. Input this into the HG Care App for trending and automatic calculation of your weight gain/loss.
- Do urine ketone testing to see if you are starving. (Some strips also allow monitoring of protein and glucose.) Always check the expiration date and when to read the strip after use.
- Check your blood pressure weekly or more, as needed, with an automated cuff, especially if you are late in pregnancy.
- Use the HG Care App to record your symptoms and be alerted to concerning symptoms. Share your Insights Report from the app with your healthcare team for thorough updates without an office visit.
- Use a portable doppler if desired to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
- Avoid emergency rooms, hospitals, and urgent care centers for HG treatment when possible. Ask for a referral to an infusion clinic for IV fluids or get home care. Sometimes the hospital will still be the safest option.
- Talk to your OB about postponing routine screenings like ultrasounds to minimize exposure.
- Minimize waiting room time if full of patients, and keep space between you and others.
- Avoid going to the pediatrician’s office with your child, or to family medical appointments.
- If hospitalized, communicate with friends and family only by phone.
- Ask about telemedicine options to replace weekly or biweekly visits to avoid exposure in medical clinics. If you need to be measured or have other hands-on assessment, you will still may need to go into the office.
- Request mail order medications to avoid trips to the pharmacy. Many independent pharmacies offer free or low-cost home delivery.
- Ask if a mobile phlebotomist can do any lab work you need.
- Join the HER Foundation Facebook support groups or request a volunteer support person to help you through this time. Be sure to answer the three questions when requesting to join the FB group.
- If you are late in pregnancy,
- Talk to your doctor or midwife about any changes that might be needed in your birth plan.
- Carefully consider options for assistance during and after birth.
- Confirm in advance who can be present for support during labor and keep it to a minimum number.
- Considering asking support persons to be tested for COVID-19 prior to birth.
- Avoid asking family over the age of 60 to travel for postpartum assistance as it may expose them to COVID-19 and put them at risk for serious complications.
*TELEMED NOTE: Consider these telemed services if your insurance does not offer them. iVisit app by GenieMD is now offering free telemedicine visits with the code BeatTheVirus, and the Care by UPRX app is as well with the code ATHOME2020. AmWell offers breastfeeding and mental health support.
“Times of crisis can be very hard for people in abusive relationships. Abuse at home is known as intimate partner violence or domestic violence. Abuse can get worse during pregnancy. If you need help, call the 24-hour, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TTY). Or you can use the live chat option at https://www.thehotline.org/.” ACOG
May 1 begins HG Awareness Month. We hope you will mark your calendar and follow us on social media to join in celebrating survivors, honoring those who have been lost, and increasing awareness globally of the needs and treatment for HG. While we have had to postpone a few events and forego our meetups this year, it’s a great opportunity to engage with your #HGsisters on Facebook and by Zoom to heal from the trauma of HG.