If there is one thing a pandemic can’t slow down - it’s parenthood. In fact, quarantine may have left even more people with more time to… make more people. That said, whether it was natural planning or partly pandemic, babies are coming without pause. Which begs the question, should pregnant women wear face masks? What else should we know about the pandemic and pregnancy? Here, we share what we;ve gathered from reputable sources on the matter of masked motherhood.
Firstly, what does the coronavirus mean for your pregnancy?
Scientists are still trying to learn more about how this virus impacts pregnancy. With the pandemic being but 4 months old, there have only been so many births since - and so many people tested. Not to mention, even FDA approved tests are roughly 30% inaccurate and can show false readings. Here's what we know right now.
Pregnancy makes Mom temporarily immunocompromised.
Pregnancy, while still being undoubtedly superhuman, does make us as the carrier, immunocompromised (certainly not to be confused with weak!) This makes us more susceptible to complications of respiratory infections like the coronavirus, so experts recommend doing your best to follow certain precautions, like practicing good hand hygiene — an important step at any time in pregnancy and overall lifestyle.
Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized when tested positive for COVID-19.
An analysis published by the CDC in June found that moms-to-be with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator. This suggests that pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID-19 complications. However, the research did not account for labor and delivery hospitalizations, which we all know could have very well contributed to these numbers.
In fact, more than 135 expectant and new mothers a day — or roughly 50,000 a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — endure dangerous and even life-threatening complications that often leave them wounded, weakened, traumatized, financially devastated, unable to bear more children, or searching in vain for answers about what went wrong.
Breast milk may not be affected by COVID-19.
“Liquid gold” breast milk could share the same anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of real-time gold and silver. A small study of nine pregnant women in Wuhan, China, with confirmed COVID-19 found no evidence of the virus in their breast milk, cord blood or amniotic fluid.
Experts are suggesting that breast milk, even if strains of COVID-19 are present, is far more beneficial than it is detrimental. Naturally, this can be a case-by-case basis depending upon the immunity and health conditions of Mom and baby(ies). That said, it is recommended to talk to your OBGYN about nursing if positive for the virus.
Pregnant with confirmed COVID does not mean severe illness is imminent.
A small and local (to us here in Boston) study of 43 pregnancy women in New York with confirmed COVID-19 published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in April found that unlike SARS and H1N1, pregnant women do not seem to experience more severe illness from the coronavirus compared to the general population.
That’s a huge sigh of relief for one of the more heavy populated melting pots of the world. If numbers are good there, the hope is that lesser-visited locations will see similar if not fewer results of pregnant COVID cases turned severe illness.
Can/Should pregnant women wear face masks?
Many women that are currently pregnant are facing the usual symptoms of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and even sinus issues. All of which can happen because of blood flow and the changing environment within. This begs the question, can pregnant women wear face masks?
Naturally, there are still many unknowns to the virus, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been keeping a close eye on such. NIOSH researchers studied whether pregnant women who wear an N95 respirator have different health effects than women who are not pregnant.
Researchers took steps to ensure that the tests did not themselves create a risk for harm. They monitored 16 pregnant and 16 non-pregnant voluntary participants for heart rate, blood pressure, fetal heart rate, and other indicators of heart and lung function. The research included 1 hour of alternating sitting, standing, and moderate exercise on a stationary bicycle, both with and without a filtering facepiece respirator mask. All study participants were healthy non-smokers. That said, looking into masks that are effective like the N95, but available (as N95 is in a shortage) is a smart idea and one that each pregnant mom-to-be can determine with her own discernment.
There are breathable, lightweight, washable face masks for pregnant women.
Wearing a mask is one of the easiest things we can do to flatten the curve and to prevent the rapid spread of the unknown. Our masks can be worn all day as it is lightweight, breathable and reusable. We wanted to create something that is eco-friendly, socially responsible and highly functional. We hope you can appreciate our intentions and efforts.