Strategies for Women’s Health and Wellness with Dr. John Kirk
March 31, 2020
Dr. John Kirk, MD, FACOG, an OB/GYN who sees patients in St. Helena and Napa is bringing safe, effective, science-based obstetrics and gynecology to women in the greater Napa Valley.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding best practices in a coronavirus world
COVID-19 has impacted the world in ways few other things have in our lifetime. Much is being written and shared about the coronavirus pandemic infection which has been spreading rapidly throughout the worlds’ industrialized countries. In fact, many of us are “Sheltering in Place” in our homes, in an attempt to contain its spread. While much is still unknown about COVID-19, more is being learned every day. Our pregnant patients are an important group that is vulnerable and appropriately concerned. With that in mind, we have created best practices and commentary for pregnant women in a coronavirus world.
- Unlike the flu, pregnant women do not seem particularly susceptible to catching COVID-19, nor do they seem to have worse outcomes. Studies from China’s recent experience suggest women do not easily pass the infection through the womb and placenta to the baby. Only 1 of 10 confirmed COVID-19 virus infected mothers had an affected baby. Currently there are no reliable reports of newborns having any evidence of birth defects.
- Breastfeeding may prove to be safe. As with similar viral infections there seems to be no evidence for transmission through breastmilk. Of course, just because we have not seen this yet it does not mean it is safe, but the data so far has been hopeful.
- Protect yourself the same way as from any infection. Avoid crowds; maintain social distancing (6 or more feet away from others, limit skin to skin contact). Frequent 20-second handwashing and hand sanitizer use (>60% alcohol) is advised. Cover coughs and sneezes by your arm or shoulder rather than hands and stay far from those who are experiencing such symptoms including others in your household. Keep handles and surfaces clean and wipe with at least a 60% alcohol-containing or bleach solution frequently. Avoid touching your face as the infection portal remains eyes, mouth and nose through exposure to respiratory droplets.
- Most COVID-19 infections are mild, and the vast majority of people are recovering. Pregnant women do not seem to be any different. While the disease is an equal opportunity infector, so far it has been far better tolerated by women of pregnancy-bearing age than older patients. It also seems less likely to affect children than previous epidemics or pandemics.
- Infection symptoms appear no different in pregnant women than the general population. These include fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pains. If you are sick, stay home and avoid family members and pets. The ER or hospital should be reserved for the very sick. Remember most of us will recover without any long-term impacts or problems.
- CDC strongly suggests if you are not sick, DO NOT wear a mask as they do little to protect you. If you are sick you should wear an N-95 rated mask. If your symptoms seem to be worsening, especially shortness of breath, go to the ER wearing a mask. It’s best to first call and notify your doctor or ER that you may be infected before you present for evaluation. This is the best way to allow for preparation and prevention of spreading for all concerned.
- As an optimist I’m pleased to end on further positive notes. There seems to be no increased risk so far of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. There also does not seem to be increased risk of anomalies or malformations in babies in affected pregnancies. However, there may be a slight increased risk of preterm labor, although the number are very small.
- Deep breathing, meditating, yoga and other stress/anxiety reducing practices bring many positive wellness and mental health benefits, especially in trying times. There are many mental health resources available to assist. Do not hesitate to use them if necessary.
Finally, by following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization, you, your baby and your family will get through this and be ready for all the beauty that life has to offer. And please remember, we are here to help.
Blessings and Healthy Wishes!
John H. Kirk
About Dr. John H. Kirk
Dr. John H. Kirk is board certified in OB/GYN with 25 years of experience in high risk obstetrics, advanced gynecology, infertility and menopause treatment. His distinguished career includes specialized training in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and advanced robotics to reduce pain, surgical risk and impact, and speed recovery time and return to normalcy after women’s health surgeries and procedures. A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, he earned his MD from Yale University School of Medicine and completed residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. He has been named a Pasadena and San Francisco/Bay Area “Top Doc” for OB/GYN, U.S. News and World Report Rankings 2009 – 2019.
Dr. Kirk welcomes new and existing patients
1100 Trancas Street #250, Napa, California
707-253-1135 or adventisthealth.org/doctors/jo
Informational Resources from CDC, WHO, ACOG
We are pleased to share up-to-date, well researched, reliable websites on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
- Spanish version: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention-sp.html