| Sarah Heinonen
GREATER?SPRINGFIELD – When expecting a child, parents are naturally concerned with the health of their baby, but the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to bring up extra questions and concerns for parents. Robert Wool, an obstetrician with offices in Westfield and Springfield, told Reminder Publishing that pregnant women are at no greater risk than the general public.
“So far, we have not seen any transmission in utero,” said Wool. He said that while some viruses do transfer from the mother to the child, such as herpes and hepatitis, so far it has not happened with the novel coronavirus.
Wool said that he is taking his information directly from the CDC and Baystate Health, which is providing constant updates as more is known about the virus.
He said officials are still recommending breastfeeding, but one option for mothers who are concerned about giving their children COVID-19 is to isolate themselves after birth and resume breastfeeding after 14 days.
“We’ve had very few pregnant women test positive and then deliver a baby,” Wool said, noting there were only two at Baystate Medical Center. One reason for that may be that babies and, by extension, expecting mothers don’t have a particularly strong immune system, said Wool.
“[With] babies and pregnant women, we’re not seeing the heightened immune responses that are putting people on respirators.” Wool said. He continued, “It's a little bit of a paradox. Most people should be able to fight this with their own immune systems.” In addition to those people with a compromised immune system, “they think that people with an over-the-top immune reaction,” are the ones getting sickest. He likened it to the way the allergy symptoms that bother people are a result of the immune system overreacting to the presence of an allergen.
Wool said the recommendations for pregnant women are the same as for the general public: practice strict social distancing of at least six feet, refrain from touching the face, wash your hands as frequently as possible.
For people who are homebound and experiencing stress from this, Wool said, mental health can affect physical health. He recommended getting eight hours of sleep, eating foods with different colors and antioxidants and getting outside to go for a walk.