Covid-19 Information

Pregnancy, Childbirth & Life With Newborns During COVID-19 Outbreak

Updated April 3, 2020

We understand that during the COVID-19 outbreak you may have new concerns about your pregnancy, what your baby’s birth might be like, and how you’ll manage life with a newborn while social distancing at home. This is an unprecedented time, and we want to acknowledge that having a baby right now may feel scary. We also want to assure you that we are prepared to care for you and your baby safely, each step of the way.

PREGNANCY

Are pregnant women at higher risk for COVID-19?

Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID-19 infection on pregnant women. Data are limited, but at present there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population.

However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that you take precautions to protect yourself against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to your primary care doctor or OB/GYN.

Your OB/GYN is the best person to talk to about any specific concerns you may have about your health risks during pregnancy.

How will my prenatal and postpartum care change?

Each of the John Muir Health-affiliated OB/GYNs may have slightly different processes they’ve put into place to help keep you safe during your prenatal care. These could include things like doing some appointments via phone instead of in person, or having patients wait in their cars prior to appointments rather than in a waiting room. Please contact your OB/GYN to find out how they may be changing how they deliver prenatal and postpartum care.

Are there any special precautions I should take to avoid being infected with COVID-19 during my pregnancy?

Please continue to take the same precautions that are recommended for everyone:

  • Stay home, and do not allow visitors into your home. This includes friends, family and any caregivers or domestic workers you may usually employ. 
  • Limit your trips outside the home, and only for essentials: food and medical care. Try to avoid grocery shopping more than once per week. If you can, have your partner or a friend make the trip for you. If it’s in your budget, consider using a grocery delivery service.
  • You may take walks alone or with the people in your household. Remember to stay at least six feet away from others. And take note: the newest directive from state and local officials states that the use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited.
  • Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds. Remember to always cough or sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face. 
  • Unless you are a healthcare worker and directly caring for patients, avoid anyone who is sick.

If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, could I pass it along to my baby?

At this time it is unknown if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

Please talk to your OB/GYN about any concerns that you have. 

Can I still take childbirth and newborn care classes at John Muir Health?

Following California and our local counties’ stay-at-home orders, we have temporarily canceled all in-person classes and events at our facilities, including our childbirth and newborn care classes. However, we do have online childbirth and newborn care classes available. These cover the same type of content as our in-person classes.

To register:

Understanding Birth – Online eClass
This interactive online course covers essential information about labor, delivery and more, including how partners can help throughout the birth process. You’ll learn what labor is really like, as you watch several birth stories—including what to expect with a Cesarean birth. You’ll even have the opportunity to create your own birth plan. Allow 4-6 hours to complete.

Understanding your Newborn – Online eClass
This interactive online course covers essential information for the first six weeks and beyond. It provides clear video examples of bathing, feeding, diapering, dressing, comforting a crying newborn, and more. It also offers a variety of essential tools, such as breastfeeding / diaper logs and milestone / appointment checklists, to help you stay organized. Allow 2-3 hours to complete. 

CHILDBIRTH

Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to give birth by caesarean section?

No. Both the World Health Organization and John Muir health advise that caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also do not recommend a caesarean section solely because a woman is sick.

Please talk to your OB/GYN about your specific situation and what is best for the health of you and your baby.

Should I make any changes to my labor or delivery plans?
In most cases, the timing and method of delivery (vaginal birth or cesarean birth) do not need to be changed. Please talk to your OB/GYN about your specific situation –he or she is ready to help you consider the best plan for you.
Would it be safer to have a home birth?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and John Muir Health do not recommend home birth. We believe that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center.

Even the healthiest, low-risk pregnancies can have life threatening problems arise with little or no warning during labor and delivery. In this case, hospitals such as ours are much better prepared to give you emergency care quickly, including immediate life-saving obstetric interventions. Studies have shown that babies born at home are more than twice as likely to die around the time of birth than those born in hospitals.

Every woman has the right to choose where she will give birth. But it is important to not take any risks that might put you or your newborn’s health in danger. John Muir Health has the appropriate clinicians, staff, supplies and protective equipment to care for you and your baby safely, even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please talk to your OB/GYN if you are considering changing your plans to a home birth. He or she can discuss the relative risks of home births and hospital births with you.

What is John Muir Health doing now to keep women and babies safe during labor and childbirth? 

We are prepared to welcome you and care for you. We have the protective equipment and supplies needed to safely care for you and your baby and keep our staff safe. Our labor and delivery and post-partum units are separate from other units in the hospital. They can only be accessed by staff and physicians who work in those units, and these staff don’t work in any other units.

Here are some additional ways in which we are keeping laboring moms and newborns safe during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Separate hospital entrance for laboring moms: Go to the Labor & Delivery entrance at our Walnut Creek Medical Center off Ygnacio Valley Road. This entrance is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is separate from our main entrance. You’ll see signs there for short-term Labor & Delivery parking; your partner will need to move your car to our parking garage as soon as possible after checking in to create space for other patients accessing that entrance.
  • Increased visitor restrictions: For the safety of our patients and staff, we have implemented stricter visitor restrictions.
    • We no longer allow visitors into the medical centers
    • Exceptions to visitor restrictions:
      • One (1) identified person for the duration of the patient’s stay with us in Pediatrics, Labor & Delivery and Post-partum. Support person must not have any symptoms of illness and/or have been in contact with anyone who is sick.
        • We understand how important it is for you and your baby to have a support person with you, and we do not have any plans to stop allowing support people.
      • One (1) identified visitor for patients with severe language barriers, patients near the end of life.
  • Screening: We screen all patients and visitors for COVID-19 prior to entering the hospital. Visitors are not allowed in if they have any symptoms of illness or have been in contact with a sick person (this includes the designated support person for Labor & Delivery and Post-partum).
  • Universal mask policy: In our ongoing effort to keep patients, visitors, staff and physicians safe and as an added layer of protection during the COVID-19 outbreak, we have enacted a new policy regarding masks. All patients and visitors will be given commercially-produced medical face masks upon entry into our hospitals and Urgent Care Centers. Patients and visitors (strict visitor policies remain in place) in our hospitals will be given a new mask each day. All John Muir Health staff and physicians are also required to wear face masks while in our patient care facilities. Please note: physicians and staff will continue to wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) based on CDC guidelines for the patients they are caring for or procedures they are conducting.
    • This does mean that you will be wearing a mask during labor and delivery. We understand this is not how you imagined your birth experience, but it is an important protection to help ensure the safety of you, your baby and our staff. We will still be able to care for you in the same way, including providing you with comfort measures during your labor and delivery.
    • Newborns will not be masked.
  • Temperature monitoring: We are obtaining the necessary equipment to begin routine temperature monitoring by early April of all patients, visitors, staff and physicians before entering any of our facilities. This will help us catch any potential illness that a person may not yet be aware of themselves. 

It’s also important to know that we will be trying to minimize your time in the hospital. When it’s appropriate for your health and your baby’s health, you may go home earlier than is typical. Please discuss when you might go home from the hospital with your OB/GYN before you go into labor, so you know what to expect.

We know that bringing your baby into the world during the COVID-19 outbreak can be frightening. We are here to care for you and your family. Please contact us with any questions or concerns: Call (925) 939-3000 and ask for Labor & Delivery. We are always happy to speak with you. Please also discuss any concerns you have with your OB/GYN. John Muir Health-affiliated OB/GYNs are familiar with our policies and procedures and can also help answer your questions.

LIFE WITH YOUR NEWBORN

Can women with COVID-19 breastfeed?

Yes, if they choose to do so. Breast milk gives babies protection against many illnesses (though it is not known if this includes COVID-19). It also is the best source of nutrition for most babies. We’re proud to be the only hospital in Contra Costa County to receive international recognition as a designated Baby-Friendly® birth facility, demonstrating our commitment to providing the best possible breastfeeding support for mothers and their babies.

We recommend that new mothers with COVID-19 follow these measures while breastfeeding:

  • Practice respiratory hygiene (cough and sneeze into your elbow) during feeding, wear a mask where available
  • Wash hands before and after touching your baby
  • Routinely clean and disinfect any surfaces you have touched
How can I manage taking care of a newborn while under stay-at-home orders?

We know that the prospect of taking care of your newborn while under stay-at-home orders can feel difficult. Many families typically plan to have friends or family members at their house during their first few weeks at home with a newborn, and the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures have changed this. It’s important that you continue to stay at home and practice social distancing, as it’s the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This means that you should not have visitors to your house (even close family members) or go to other people’s houses. It’s also important to continue washing your hands frequently, especially before touching or holding your baby.

Ways to protect yourself and your family:

  • Stay home, and do not allow visitors into your home. This includes friends, family and any caregivers or domestic workers you may usually employ.
  • Limit your trips outside the home, and only for essentials: food and medical care. Try to avoid grocery shopping more than once per week. If you can, have your partner or a friend make the trip for you. If it’s in your budget, consider using a grocery delivery service.
  • You may take walks alone or with the people in your household. Remember to stay at least six feet away from others. And take note: the use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited.
  • Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds. Remember to always cough or sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face.

Some ways to stay supported:

  • Connect with family and friends virtually using online video conferencing services, or by phone. Be sure to mention how you’re feeling. Many new mothers have conflicting emotions during the newborn phase, including joy, fear, sadness and overwhelm. This is normal, and it helps to talk to trusted friends and family members, especially those who have gone through this themselves.
  • Get fresh air every day. A walk refreshes your body and mind, and the motion of a stroller or parent walking while wearing a baby is one of the best ways to soothe your crying baby. Ideally, walks should be taken only alone or with other members of your household. Remember to stay at least six feet away from others. And take note: the use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited.
  • Call your doctor if you begin to feel symptoms of depression. Feeling sad and overwhelmed at times can be common for new moms, and this may be even harder during the COVID-19 outbreak since you’ll be at home without the in-person support from family and friends that we typically recommend. It’s important for you and your baby that feelings of depression are addressed right away. Please call your primary care doctor, OB/GYN or pediatrician so they can help you find a solution.

Can I bring my baby to the pediatrician while under stay-at-home orders?

Yes. Many John Muir Health-affiliated pediatricians are doing in-person visits for well-baby checkups up to 15 months, including for vaccinations. Your doctor may schedule a phone visit in addition to your in-person visit, to go over some of the well-baby checkup questions and limit the time you’ll spend in the doctor’s office. Please contact your pediatrician to find out how they may be changing how they deliver newborn care.

We have been providing excellent state-of-the-art OB-GYN care in the East Bay since 1978, when Bud Rotermund and Lu Hughes joined their practices to form Muir OB-GYN. The same goal of compassionate care delivered in a personal way with the top priority being the well being our patients has been maintained throughout the years. We are proud to be the area’s most enduring group practice. Our doctors and nurse practitioners are among the most accomplished and experienced in the East Bay.

Contact Info

Brentwood

350 John Muir PKWY, Ste. 205
Brentwood, CA 94513

Walnut Creek

112 La Casa Via, Ste. 200
Walnut Creek, CA 94598

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