Pandemic Pregnancies

Pandemic Pregnancies: What You Need to Know

Even during the pandemic, it’s still possible to have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Read on to learn more about things to consider and COVID-19 vaccines before and during pregnancy.

Vaccinations During Pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might be pregnant in the future. The CDC strongly recommends a COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. Studies have confirmed that the vaccine is safe in all stages of pregnancy and does not cause fertility problems.

As of September 2021, there have been more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in people who are pregnant (including those who are lactating). According to data from the COVID-19 Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), 97% of hospitalized pregnant people with confirmed COVID-19 infections were unvaccinated.

If You’re Not Yet Pregnant, But Want to Be

If you and your partner stay healthy, COVID-19 itself will not affect your ability to conceive. Staying healthy during the pandemic includes taking precautions such as wearing a mask when appropriate and washing your hands frequently.

COVID-19 hasn’t just made an impact on health, it has badly damaged our economy, jeopardized funding for public programs, had a significant impact on our health care system, and profoundly affected almost every part of life in this country. Other facts to consider:

  • Once you are pregnant, you will have to see the doctor regularly to protect your health and the health of your baby. Although some of these visits can be done with a telehealth screening, many of these visits will have to be in-person. AltaMed and other health facilities are taking precautions to keep patients and staff safe, but it is impossible to eliminate every risk.
  • The costs of trying to get pregnant, receiving prenatal care, delivery, and follow-up care can add up. If your job or your health insurance aren’t secure, it may be tough to cover the expenses.
  • As Los Angeles struggles with coronavirus and asks people to avoid unnecessary trips, you may find yourself with less in-person support from friends and family. And, whether you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or already have a baby, mixing with people outside of your household could potentially expose you to COVID-19.

No matter what’s happening in the world, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your doctor and your partner before attempting to become pregnant. None of this information is a substitute for those conversations, just information to consider.

Doctor Performing an Ultrasound on a Woman

If You’re Already Pregnant, There are Risks, But They’re Low

Congratulations if you’re expecting. If you stay healthy, coronavirus probably won’t jeopardize your pregnancy or your baby. Even if you do get coronavirus, the risk of transmitting it to your baby is very low. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many high-quality scientific studies to shed light on all of the potential risks.

However, if you do contract coronavirus and develop serious symptoms, this may increase your risks for pregnancy complications, including pre-term birth. More intensive research is needed to confirm, but scientists also believe that simply being pregnant can make you vulnerable to more severe cases of COVID-19.

All the precautions for people who want to become pregnant apply here, too. Even though you will likely be at home, caring for your infant for some time, professional child-care could be a big question mark. Even asking your closest relatives for help could expose you and your baby to COVID-19 risks unless they are already living in your household.

Pregnant Woman Getting a Vaccine

Still Not Sure? Talk to Your Doctor

Even if you already have children, the decision to get pregnant can change your life and your family, and that’s especially true now. Talk to your doctor. Having an informed medical opinion about your unique health history and risks, as well as the current state of COVID-19, may help you make up your mind. And if you are already pregnant, rest assured knowing that AltaMed is here for all your prenatal care needs.

Doctors and public health officials urge everyone, including those who are pregnant or wish to be, to get their flu shots early this year. Schedule an appointment to get your immunizations today. Flu shots are safe for pregnant woman and their babies, no matter what trimester. It’s one more way to protect yourself and your entire family.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Mother and Baby

Tips to Keep Your Baby Safe

Babies depend on us for everything — feeding, dressing, changing, bathing. Parents are caregivers and protectors. It’s a full-time job.

Expectant parents, grandparents, or anyone who plans to have babies in the house — even for a visit — should take some time to look at the basics for keeping babies safe in a number of situations.

Dad Holding His New Born

Baby-proofing basics

Babies are tiny, helpless things that usually stay where you put them — at least for a few months. It doesn’t take long until they start crawling, scooting, cruising, and eventually toddling. You would be surprised the things a baby can get into, so take the time to literally get on their level. Crawl around and actively look for potential hazards.

  • Electrical outlets — These are easy to fill with plastic covers.
  • Curtains — Hang them up out of baby’s way.
  • Cords — Keep blind and electric cords out of reach.
  • Tablecloths — Babies can pull on these and bring whatever is on the table tumbling down.
  • Tall furniture — Anchor entertainment centers and dressers to the wall for when babies start climbing.
  • Cabinets — It’s easy to install pantry locks inside the doors to keep out curious babies.
  • Gates — Put these up early so the baby won’t see them as barriers to exploration.
Mom Bathing Her Baby

Making bath time safe

Bath time should be a fun experience for a baby. It’s important to get clean but just as important for the baby to experience the water and see it as something positive. Here are some tips for making bath time a safe time for your baby.

  • Prepare — Get everything you need for the bath before bringing the baby to the bathroom.
  • Fill the tub — Check the water temperature to make sure it’s not too hot before putting the baby in the water. Adjust the hot water heater so it’s no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stay put — Never leave a baby unattended or in the care of an older child. Babies can drown in one inch of water.
  • Cover it — Put a cushioned cover or a hand towel on the faucet to protect the baby’s head, should they bump it.
  • Bath seats — Place them far enough from the faucet so baby can’t reach. Also never lift the seat with the baby in it.
  • Lock it — Close the toilet lid and get a lock. A curious baby could fall in. Also use pantry locks for the bathroom cabinets.
Mom Securing Her Baby in Chair

Getting ready to ride

Everyone needs to be buckled up in a car, especially babies. They should always ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum height and weight listed on the instructions.

Every state has unique requirements about children riding in car seats. For California, car seats are required by law. The California Department of Highway Patrol provides a breakdown of current car seat laws for infants and children based on age and weight. Additionally, the California Office of Traffic Safety has information on where new parents can get discounted car seats, or in some cases, for free.

It is also important to use a new car seat whenever possible as safety standards are constantly evolving. Never use a damaged car seat or one that has been in an accident, and never leave a child alone in a car, even for a moment. Put things you need near your baby to remind you to take your baby out of the car.

Babies Playing with Cubes

Playing it safe

Toys, clothes, and other items come with age recommendations for a reason. Babies are always putting things in their mouths, so age-appropriate toys shouldn’t have anything that could be a choking hazard. There also shouldn’t be any cords, sharp edges, or other potential dangers.

  • Stay close — Don’t leave a baby unattended in a swing, bouncer, or activity center.
  • Stay grounded — Don’t put play items on beds or sofas where the child can roll off.
  • Check surroundings — Make sure there are no cords, plants, or other items near where your baby is playing.
  • Sleep right — Swings, bouncers, and other similar items should not be used as substitutes for cribs.
  • Move on — Stop using anything your baby outgrows, or anything that becomes damaged.
  • Register — Register items with the manufacturer in case there is ever a product recall.

Keeping babies healthy

Keeping babies safe includes making sure they have the proper immunizations. AltaMed pediatric patients can get their vaccinations for mumps, measles, HPV, and the flu, to keep them, and the community, healthy.

We can also direct you to social services that can help you with your child’s nutrition and other resources. For information or to make an appointment call (888) 499-9303.

Baby Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding: A Lifetime of Benefits

Breastmilk is the first food nature intended humans to consume because it contains the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat babies need to thrive in the first months of their lives. It also contains vital antibodies, so they can fight off any viruses and bacteria. An added bonus – the benefits of breastmilk continue well into adulthood.

When babies are breastfed exclusively for at least six months:

  • They’re less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, allergies, and respiratory illnesses.
  • It reduces their risk of developing chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, childhood and adult obesity, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
  • It lowers their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by 50%.
  • It lowers their risk of childhood cancers like leukemia, and breast cancer as they age.

Breastfeeding is also incredibly beneficial in the short- and long-term for mothers. When women breastfeed:

  • It lowers their risk of type 2 diabetes, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Their chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, endometriosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are reduced.
  • On average, they get 45 more minutes of sleep.
  • It helps them return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster by burning an extra 400 calories per day.
Mother in Chair Breastfeeding Baby

The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Breastfeeding

  • Do reach out for assistance before your baby is born —attending a breastfeeding class is always a good place to start learning the ropes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help — the earlier you let others know you’re struggling, the better equipped you’ll be to overcome any challenges.
  • Don’t give up on the hardest day — breastfeeding takes work, and patience is key. Practice makes perfect!
  • Do find a support system — breastfeeding support groups can be a great way for you to meet other mothers that are also breastfeeding and provides a safe space to talk about what you’re experiencing.
  • Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t come easy — breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as most people expect. Especially if you’re a new mom, there may be a steep learning curve for both yourself and your baby.
  • Do seek support from a lactation consultant — there may be issues you may not be aware of. For example, a tongue tie is a common issue for babies that can’t maintain a deep latch. An experienced lactation consultant can recognize the problem and recommend solutions.

If you are breast or chestfeeding, you may be anxious about having enough milk for your baby. This is a common concern for new mothers. The California WIC Program and CDPH have put together an easy-to-use resource that addresses a lot of the questions parents may have.

You may also be worried about returning to work and how that can affect your supply. Low- wage workers receive less lactation support than those with higher incomes. A new brief provides information on ways the California Paid Leave policy and additional lactation accommodation laws can support low-wage workers in their breast and chestfeeding goals.

Woman and Doctor Talking

Finding the Right Resources

You’re not in this alone. There are a variety of community resources for breastfeeding support such as California’s Black Infant Health (BIH) Program. And if you are returning to work, plan and get information about nursing support after returning to the workforce. You can also speak to your supervisor about lactation accommodations to make the transition easier.

If you have a friend or family member that is breastfeeding or considering it, you can lend a hand by supporting their efforts. Little things like providing a meal, running an errand or providing a short break can be a big help to new parents.

AltaMed offers a variety of services, from lactation consultants and educators to individual support, at Boyle Heights, El Monte, Goodrich, Orange, Santa Ana, and Children's Hospital LA sites. Call (888) 499-9303 for more information and to make an appointment today.

Pandemic Pregnancies: What You Need to Know