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With the COVID-19 outbreak being declared a pandemic, the anxiety around what the virus could mean for pregnant women is critical. However, healthcare experts and scientists assure that as far as the current studies and research indicates, there is no evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk from COVID-19 .
It was also indicated that as COVID-19 is different in nature than of the flu, for which pregnant women are increasingly at risk for, and also that there's no evidence that COVID infection is passed on to the fetus or has any effect on the fetus .
This article will answer your questions regarding some of the most common doubts relating the coronavirus infection and pregnancy, where we will look at both pregnant mother and new mothers.
1. Can COVID-19 cause problems for a pregnancy?
Ans: Although the available data is flexible, unlike with catching the flu, pregnant women may be at no greater risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 than the general population . According to the most recent data, there are no reported deaths of pregnant women from coronavirus.
Therefore, as of now, there is no evidence suggesting that if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.
2. What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?
Ans: Health experts suspect that the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms. Severe symptoms such as pneumonia are reported in older people, those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions.
3. Can COVID-19 be passed from a pregnant woman to the fetus or newborn?
Ans: Initial reports suggest that COVID-19 might not hit pregnant women or their newborn babies. However, one concern is that people are more likely to become severely ill with flu when they are pregnant as pregnancy suppresses a person's immune system .
Also, in the later stages of pregnancy, the organs including the lungs become less able to circulate air, leaving them more prone to infection. As per a recent report by the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, four women who were infected with the virus when they gave birth to their four babies were studied.
The result showed that all four women were ill with the virus when they gave birth. But the four babies were born healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms. "One baby had mild problems with breathing but recovered well after a few days of treatment. Two had rashes but these disappeared within 10 days without treatment. Three of the babies were tested for the virus - none of them had it" .
4. If a pregnant woman has COVID-19 during pregnancy, will it hurt the baby?
Ans: There have been a small number of reported problems with pregnancy or delivery of babies born to mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 during their pregnancy, such as preterm birth and breathing trouble in children.
5. What can I do to reduce my risk of catching coronavirus?
Ans: The most important thing to do is to wash your hands regularly and effectively as soon as you come from public places to your home or workplace .
6. Does coronavirus spread through breast milk?
Ans: There is a lack of clarity, in this case, however, the spread of coronavirus infection thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes . According to studies, the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, it is not known whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.
7. What should I do if I think I may have coronavirus or been exposed?
Ans: If you are pregnant and you have either high temperature and recent, continuous cough, you are advised to stay at home for 7 days. Avoid going outside, especially to a pharmacy or a hospital. Also, inform your doctor that you have symptoms suggestive of coronavirus.
8. How will I be tested for coronavirus?
Ans: Currently, the process for diagnosing coronavirus infection is changing rapidly. Only people with severe symptoms who require overnight admission to hospital will be tested.
9. Will my baby be tested for coronavirus?
Ans: Yes, if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus at the time your baby is born, your baby will be tested for coronavirus.
10. Will I be able to stay with my baby if I have suspected or confirmed coronavirus?
Ans: Depends on your choice and in some cases, according to the hospital rules. If your baby is well and doesn't require care in the neonatal unit, you will be kept together after you have given birth.
11. Will I be able to breastfeed my baby if I have suspected or confirmed coronavirus?
Ans: Yes. At the moment there is no evidence that the virus can be carried through breastmilk. The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby as there are chances of infective airborne droplets being shared and causing your baby to become infected, after birth.
12. If I choose to breastfeed my baby, what are the precautions to be considered?
- Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
- If available, consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding.
- Try and avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast.
- Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use.
- Consider asking someone who is well to feed expressed breast milk to your baby.
On A Final Note…
If you are pregnant, you are more vulnerable to getting infections than a woman who is not pregnant. Therefore, follow the guidelines and take smart steps to save yourself and your baby from the pandemic.
At the same time, expectant mothers should stay away from those infected, wash their hands regularly, limit travel overseas, and contact their doctors in case of doubts. Stay safe.