Last update on 26th-July-2020
COVID-19 is a NEW ‘flu-type’ respiratory disease. We emphasize the word ‘new’ because biologists and epidemiologists worldwide are still investigating the virus and how 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’ antiviral drug will take time.
Meanwhile, 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 among women, there is a specific group, those hoping to become pregnant, those who are pregnant, and those with newborns breastfeeding.
Any period of ‘uncertainty’ leads to speculation, particularly with 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 come from information from accredited sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (London, UK).
1. What impact does COVID-19/Coronavirus have on pregnant women?
When pregnant women become infected with COVID-19, they are more likely to need to be admitted to the hospital and to need help with breathing (ventilator) than COVID-19 infected women who aren’t pregnant.
Additionally, if you have a chronic or underlying condition, such as diabetes or asthma, you are likely to be more affected. Contact your physician if your recovery if you feel that your symptoms are worsening.
Typical COVID-19 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.
The risk of passing the infection to a fetus appears to be low. There is no evidence of fetal malformations or effects caused by the mother having COVID-19.
If a woman infects with a high fever during the first trimester, it’s safest to use acetaminophen to lower temperature to avoid risk to the developing fetus.
2. What can I do to reduce the risk of being infected by COVID‑19?
Regular and effective handwashing is the most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19.
It’s vital to practice excellent hand hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose.
All members of your household should wash their 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. Pay particular attention to frequently touched surfaces, e.g., food preparation areas, tables, desks, doorknobs, light switches, handles, toilets, faucets. Don’t forget to clean cell phones and computer keyboards!
3. What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
In short: –
- Stay at home
- Check-in with your physician
Call your physician if the symptoms do not improve within 72 hours (3 days) or immediately if there is a worsening (for example, you have difficulty 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.
The COVID-19 test should not cost you any money. But please contact your Health Insurance Company to clarify before any treatment.
4. What should I do if I test positive for Coronavirus during pregnancy?
If you test positive for COVID-19, make sure that your Drs. and pediatricians know your diagnosis.
- If you have no or mild symptoms, recover at home (self-isolate) SEE Q 5
- If you have severe symptoms, you may require hospitalization
5. What should I do if asked to SELF ISOLATE?
Anyone advised to ‘self-isolate’ should stay indoors and avoid contact with others for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should remain at home for at least 14 days (instructions on the point vary from state to state). For more information on SELF ISOLATION, see our article Self Isolation, Social Distancing, and YOU.
6. What effect will Coronavirus have on my baby?
Because this is a very new (NOVEL) virus, scientists are still building up a picture. Growing research suggests that the Coronavirus can be passed to an unborn baby by a pregnant mother. Researchers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html also say there may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, among pregnant people with COVID-19. Therefore, if you are pregnant, be mindful about reducing your risk of getting sick. SEE Q8
7. Should I plan for a home birth due to the Coronavirus scare?
Home birth is a choice based on your preferences and the advice of your physician. As a precautionary approach, pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 when they go into labor are advised to attend an obstetric unit for birth, where they can closely monitor your health.
8. Could I pass Coronavirus to my baby?
New research says that transmission of Coronavirus from a pregnant mother to an unborn baby is possible. Investigators in Italy conducted a study with 31 pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19. They found the virus in an at-term placenta, umbilical cord, the vagina of one woman, and in breast milk. Only two of the 31 newborn children tested positive for COVID-19, making fetal infection relatively rare. Those two children quickly recovered from the virus.
So, YES. You might pass the Coronavirus to your baby if you are affected by it.
Some final advice
- Always call your Doctor’s office (or ER) before visiting and wear a mask on arrival
- Avoid public transport
- Carry antiseptic (alcohol-based) wipes for use after touching frequently used surfaces such as door handles or lift buttons
- MAINTAIN a SOCIAL DISTANCE (6 feet, 2 meters) between you and others.
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?