COVID-19 is a NEW ‘flu-type’ respiratory disease.  We emphasize the word ‘new’ because biologists and epidemiologists worldwide are still investigating the nature of the virus and the way in which it spreads. Despite the enormous strides made in research techniques (the use of AI for example) the development of a new and ‘COVID-19 specific’ anti-viral drug will take time.

In the meantime, there are personal concerns: how do I best protect myself and my loved ones from infection?  Secondly: What should I do to minimize the risk of infecting others in my family AND the community?

AND, of course, among women, there is a specific group, those who are hoping to become pregnant, those who are pregnant and those with newborns who are breastfeeding.

Any period of ‘uncertainty’ leads to speculation, particularly when it comes to matters of health and family. There are, sadly, always those who seek to profit financially or otherwise from ‘uncertainty’ and often use ‘social media’ and distorted ‘facts’ to do so.

In this article, we address some of your greatest concerns in the form of a Q&A about the impact of Coronavirus on pregnant women.

The questions are yours!

The answers are based on publicly available information from accredited sources such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (London, UK).

What impact does COVID-19/Coronavirus have on pregnant women?

Pregnant women who are infected do not seem to be more severely unwell than the general population. If you have a chronic or underlying condition, such as diabetes or asthma, you are likely to be more seriously affected. You should contact your physician if your recovery is delayed or if you feel that your symptoms are worsening.

The symptoms are

  • Fever (high temperature)
  • New (dry) cough
  • Shortness of breath

It is not yet clear to what extent individuals are affected: a large majority of (pregnant) women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu symptoms.

What can I do to reduce the risk of being infected by COVID‑19?

Regular and effective handwashing in any circumstances is the most effective way of limiting the spread of infections like colds and ‘flu. COVID-19 is a close relative of seasonal ‘flu.

You and all members of your household should wash your hands especially after being out in public, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing and using the bathroom.

Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs.  You should pay particular attention to frequently touched surfaces, e.g. food preparation areas, tables, desks, doorknobs, light switches, handles, toilets, faucets.  You should be especially aware of cell phones and computer keyboards.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 or been exposed?

In short: –

  • Stay at home
  • Check-in with your physician

Call your physician if the basic symptoms do not improve within 72 hours (3 days) or immediately if there is a worsening (for example you have difficulty in breathing). NOTE: – Always call ahead of a visit to the Doctor’s office or ER.  Tell them your symptoms – they will tell you what to do.

You should not be charged for a COVID-19 test and medical care but you should contact your Health Insurance Company to clarify the administration.

What should I do if I test positive for Coronavirus during pregnancy?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you should make sure that your ante‑natal team is aware of your diagnosis.

  • If you have no symptoms or mild symptoms you will be advised to recover at home (self-isolate) SEE Q 5
  • If you have more serious symptoms, you might be treated in a hospital setting.

What should I do if I am asked to SELF ISOLATE?

Basically, anyone who has been advised to ‘self-isolate’ should stay indoors and avoid contact with others for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days (instructions on the point vary from state to state). For a fuller explanation of SELF ISOLATION see our article Self Isolation, Social Distancing and YOU.

What effect will Coronavirus have on my baby if I am diagnosed with the infection?

Because this is a very new (NOVEL) virus, scientists a still building up a picture.  There is no evidence that there is an increased risk of miscarriage or that the virus can pass to your developing baby. It is therefore thought unlikely that the virus will cause abnormalities in an unborn child.

Should I plan for a home birth due to the Coronavirus scare?

As always, this is a personal choice based on circumstance and the advice of your physician.  As a precautionary approach, pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 when they go into labor will generally be advised to attend an obstetric unit for birth, where both you and the baby can be continuously monitored if necessary.

Could I pass Coronavirus to my baby?

This is such a new virus that there is limited evidence but there are no examples of women who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 having passed the virus to their babies while in the womb.

Similarly, there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breast milk.  It is felt that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the possible risks of transmission through breast milk.

Some final advice

  1. Always call your Doctor’s office (or ER) before visiting and wear a mask on arrival
  2. If at all possible, avoid public transport
  3. Carry antiseptic (alcohol-based) wipes for use after touching frequently used surfaces such as door handles or lift buttons
  4. MAINTAIN a SOCIAL DISTANCE (6 feet, 2 meters) between you and others.

And remember

A SHRUG AND AN APOLOGETIC SMILE are almost a good as a handshake – and MUCH SAFER!

Also read our article on Does health insurance cover coronavirus?