Pregnancy, Labor, and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about our lives — the way we connect with others, the safety precautions we take in public, and in some cases, the way women give birth. In areas experiencing significant numbers of hospitalizations, some OBGYNs are offering elective inductions to avoid overcrowding in hospitals. But this process may be a little foreign to new moms and veteran moms alike. 

Add in the questions of how COVID-19 and the newly emergency-use authorized vaccines can affect your baby in the womb, and things can become stressful. No need to worry, however! Our team of trusted OBGYNs is here to answer your questions and help you feel confident throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and beyond. 

Can having COVID-19 before becoming pregnant affect my pregnancy? 

While there are no studies on whether having COVID-19 before becoming pregnant can affect a pregnancy, most doctors will agree that there is no risk of adverse events tied to a previous infection. In fact, if the mother still has antibodies from overcoming the illness, she can pass some of that protection on to her child. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for a pregnant woman in her first trimester?

Currently, there is no data for how the vaccines affect pregnant women, as they weren’t included in the clinical trials. According to our doctors, there is no reason why it would be unsafe for a pregnant woman to get the vaccine, and pregnancy is a risk factor for developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. However, choosing to get vaccinated is an individual decision that you should make when considering the potential risks and benefits.  

What happens when you're induced?

The process of inducing labor varies for all women, as each woman may naturally experience some parts of labor and not others. There are several ways your OBGYN can help induce labor, including: 

  • Ripening the Cervix - Helping the cervix begin dilation through hormonal treatments or mechanical means. 
  • Membrane Stripping - Encouraging the body to release the hormone prostaglandin (which helps the cervix dilate) by gently touching the amniotic sac membrane.
  • Membrane Rupturing - Using a tool to break the amniotic sac if the cervix has already begun dilating.
  • Pitocin - Your OBGYN may give you this medication if contractions have not begun after the three steps above. 
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Is induced labor more painful?

Induced labor can be more painful than natural labor, as Pitocin can make contractions stronger and more regular. However, since contractions usually begin about 30 minutes after a mother receives Pitocin, it is easier to plan for an epidural. 

Whether you’re trying for a child or you have a little one on the way, St. Luke’s Health OBGYNs can help you feel educated and make healthy decisions throughout this adventure, and our Family Birthing Centers provide a VIP — Very Important Pregnancy — experience for every patient. Schedule an appointment today! 

Sources: 

What to Expect | Inducing Labor: What Happens When You're Induced?

American Pregnancy Association | First Stage of Labor

UMN CIDRAP | COVID-19 antibodies transmit from moms to babies during pregnancy

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