The pandemic pregnancy: a weakened immune system and no playbook

To protect themselves and their babies from the coronavirus, many pregnant women have isolated themselves at a time during which they expected support from family and friends, leaving them feeling lonely and afraid. 

Some unexpected obstacles have included virtual doctor visits and going into labor with only one person to support them at the hospital. These regulations are meant to ensure that both mom and the baby will have a safe delivery, but have left some women feeling unsupported.

There is a lack of information for moms-to-be on how best to navigate pregnancy during a pandemic. Women don’t know what to expect in terms of delivery and the safety of their child. The American Pregnancy Association provides a guide to being pregnant in the pandemic, but health professionals themselves are learning as they go while also trying to give medically sound advice. 

Roselynn Ruiz, 23, gave birth to a baby girl on April 15. “When I asked what would happen if I got COVID-19, they didn’t know what to say,” she said.

Not knowing what to expect can cause women to feel fear and loneliness during their pregnancies. Ruiz expected to ask her mom for guidance, but she couldn’t help much. After all, the last major pandemic in the United States was a century ago.

Ruiz said she spent many nights crying because she couldn’t call her mom to come over and help. She felt trapped and scared. 

“It was supposed to be the happiest days of your life when you’re pregnant, but with the circumstances being given it made it very sad and scary,” Ruiz said.

Many OB-GYN clinics are only allowing one patient inside at a time to keep everyone safe. Many are even giving pregnant women the option of virtual visits if they feel more comfortable. 

Jenisse Sanchez, a pregnant registered nurse at Stanford Health Care said, “For me, being a nurse and pregnant is really stressful, not only on the body, but on the mind.” 

Sanchez works in the hospital’s emergency room where she said it’s been really stressful having to wonder if the next person walking in is going to be a COVID-19 case. Many people don’t develop symptoms for COVID-19, and Sanchez said every pregnant woman should act as though “everyone has COVID-19.” 

“My best advice is everyone, not only pregnant women, should keep their distance and make sure they wash their hands thoroughly,” said Sanchez. “Pregnant women are known to have a [weakened] immune system so it is important to follow CDC guidelines so you can prevent getting infected.”

I’m a senior at Florida International University majoring in Broadcast Journalism. I enjoy sports and giving back to my community.