It’s quite difficult when you are pregnant in the middle of a global crisis. Since December 2019, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been infecting more than a million and the numbers keep on increasing day by day.
It wasn’t until the 30th of January that we heard about the first case of human-to-human transmission and COVID-19 has been a common enemy ever since.
Most of the people who are infected experienced mild to moderate bouts of flu-like symptoms. There are a few compelling pieces of evidence that show the likelihood for novel coronavirus to cause severe illness particularly in the elderly.
However, the question remained. What about pregnant mothers? How dangerous is COVID-19 to a pregnant woman? Can couples proceed with plans to conceive while the world struggles to keep this pandemic tragedy in check?
What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is a new strain of virus which comes from the family of coronaviridae.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are at least 7 different types of coronavirus which are known to infect humans.
In 2003, we experienced the epidemics of its close brother, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and in 2012, we met their sister, the middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
All of those listed can cause severe respiratory symptoms and are quite contagious. However, none of them can really be compared with novel coronavirus.
Novel coronavirus has been thought to originate from the city of Wuhan. The number of infected people as they travel across the world bringing infection home.
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as an official global pandemic. This is something new and even the best of us can’t really guarantee how this situation is going to look like moving forward.
How do pregnant women get affected from coronavirus?
As the data is quite limited, there is currently no evidence to suggest that pregnant women would be at a higher risk than the general population.
However, it should be noted that, during pregnancy, hormonal changes can make a pregnant woman more susceptible to respiratory infections.
This immunocompromised state would mean they could be infected but probably experiencing only mild to moderate symptoms.
There are a few studies which have been conducted on pregnant women pertaining to this global COVID-19 crisis.
- A small study in Wuhan involving 9 pregnant women has shown that there are no traces of novel coronavirus material on the mother’s breast milk, cord blood or amniotic fluid. The virus would not be spread through vertical transmission (from mothers to foetuses) and it is safe to give newborn expressed breast milk (EBM) from infected mothers.
- A small retrospective study which has been published in The Lancet has shown that 7 pregnant women who are in their 3rd trimester had a good outcome while being hospitalised without any need to be admitted into the intensive care unit.
- A report from WHO based on the data of 147 pregnant mothers has shown that they are not at a greater risk of respiratory complications compared to the general population.
While you carve a smile of relief, know that the only way to keep you and your pregnancy safe is to practise as much as preventive measures such as social distancing and regular hand washing.
How can the novel coronavirus pandemic affect your birth plan?
There are a few changes which have been made to encourage social distancing.
Every hospital execute different plans to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, however you might be experiencing the following:
- No people are allowed to visit you in the labour room. This may include your husband or doula to accompany you during labour.
- If you have been tested positive for COVID-19, your doctor will wear personal protective equipment to protect themselves from getting infected.
- Your movement would be restricted. You may not be allowed to walk around the hallway while being admitted.
- Post-delivery, you may be discharged early. This is to reduce the risk of you or your newborn from getting a novel coronavirus infection.
If you are currently pregnant, apart from delivery, you might be pondering upon the risk of contracting COVID-19 while attending doctor’s appointment.
However, you shouldn’t be anxious or worry too much. Most hospitals will have made a few changes pertaining to the number of patients and sitting arrangement while waiting for your turn.
Even though it is risky to go to the hospital around this time, it’s imperative for you to receive prenatal care to avoid complications.
Thus, if you have a scheduled appointment, it is important to keep it.
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