Pregnancy and Coronavirus
Pregnancy and coronavirus is what we all want to know about as well as how to prepare for Coronavirus when pregnant. The facts, not the rumours or panic mongering.
I want to make it clear that each country has their own rules and policies so this information is what is mostly occurring. Please check with your prenatal care professional for the rules you will need to follow for the hospital you are using.
So, while it is a stressful time for everyone, this updated message (see below) from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is reassuring for pregnant women and those who care for them.
Here’s what you can do:
As you are pregnant, you should minimise contact with others and avoid the workplace as much as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak. You can’t self-isolate for the whole of the pregnancy.
By way of comparison, influenza is a potentially serious disease for pregnant women, the fetus and newborn babies.
When pregnant, there are a number of changes that occur in your body. These changes include reduced lung function, increased cardiac output, increased oxygen consumption, and changes to the immune system.
As a result to these changes, pregnant women have an increased risk of severe complications from influenza. So, please be aware of flu symptoms and seek medical advice.
However, at this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population.
Will I be allowed a birthing partner when I go into labour?
You should have a ‘back-up’ birthing partner who can help you through the intensity of labour just in case your first choice gets sick.
Pregnant women are still being allowed to have a single birth partner during the crisis, but the partner must be well and not show signs of coronavirus.
Will I be tested for coronavirus on admission to hospital?
Pregnant women are not being routinely tested for coronavirus. But you will be tested on the same basis as anyone else.
If a pregnant woman has coronavirus symptoms they will be tested to ensure the safety of the midwife and others.
What if I think I have coronavirus. What will happen if I go into labour with the symptoms?
If you go into labour with symptoms of coronavirus you will be tested and hospital staff will wear protective equipment around you.
You will likely be offered a mask to wear and all necessary disinfecting procedures will be implemented.
You will be placed into an isolation room and looked after by a smaller team to minimise infection.
Can I Run Outside during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Right now, we are all being asked to practice social distancing. In restaurants, cafes and bars. Now, gyms are being closed down or avoided.
So can you keep running? Yes! You can keep running while social distancing.
I am not a big fan of running during pregnancy due to its high impact nature and other factors but I understand that if you were a runner before getting pregnant, and want to continue running, then you’re OK to do so.
It’s important to keep exercising if you can’t go to the gym. Along with my online at home workouts, you can mix in some running if you want to keep running.
Running, or even walking, outdoors is certainly a much healthier option than attending the gym or a workout class.
Pregnancy and Coronavirus – Keep Antenatal Appointments
The Royal College of Midwives has stated that antenatal appointments were “essential to ensure the well-being of pregnant women and their babies.” Therefore, pregnant women are being urged to attend antenatal appointments as normal.
Pregnant women are being advised to limit their social contact.
Gill Walton from the the Royal College of Midwives, said that antenatal and postnatal care continue to be important.
Walton said: “We would urge all pregnant women who are well to attend their care as normal. If you are pregnant and have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should call to defer routine visits until after the isolation period is over,” she said.
What is the government’s advice for pregnant women?
1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport
3. Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
4. Avoid large gatherings public spaces.
5. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP.
6. Avoid gatherings with friends and family.
Don’t Panic when Pregnant during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Now is not the time to panic, but it is the time to be prepared and plan for the next few months.
Stocking up on the right medical supplies and food could be helpful if the new coronavirus spreads in your community. This is an ideal way to help you having to frequently go to the supermarkets or store where there will be long lines. Reducing your time in places with large gatherings is was to reduce the risk of infection from others.
The last place you want to be is in line at a crowded grocery store, supermarket or drugstore.
Should I stock-up on food and medications?
First, consult your doctor on what medications you can and cannot take when pregnant.
For peace of mind, you should stock up on certain products now to avoid potential shortages. There are already shortages of many items in the stores, and again, the greatest problem supermarkets at the moment is being able to stock the shelves fast enough before the items are taken.
There are plenty of supplies and the shelves are continually being re-shocked.
If you take daily medications, make sure you have enough to last a couple of weeks.
Do you have children?
If your child’s childcare or school is shut, then you need to think about some extra food for when they are home. This includes some hydrating drinks in case they get a cold, flu or aren’t well.
Are special cleaning supplies needed?
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces. What we know is that most household cleansers ( bleach, wipes) will kill them.
If COVID-19 does get someone sick at home, plan on cleaning surfaces that get touched frequently such as kitchen counters and bathroom faucets.
What about face masks?
So the best defence at the moment is regularly washing your hands and cleaning surfaces. But what about face masks? The science on whether it’s helpful to wear a face mask out in public is really mixed.
Some infectious disease experts are reluctant to recommend that people wear masks as a preventive measure because they can provide a false sense of security.
What experts do agree on is that wearing a mask is a good idea if you are sick, so you can reduce the chances that you’ll infect others.
What to do about work?
If you commute to work then now is the time, if you haven’t already, to talk to your boss about your ability to work from home if COVID-19 is spreading locally. Obviously, if you’re sick, you should stay home.
If the only way you can get to work is via public transport, then see if you are able to get in by car or have someone drive you. Not really practical or easy to do I know, but if an option it is worth it.
Pregnancy and Coronavirus – What’s the plan if you get it?
If you show early signs of illness (fever or a dry cough) you should call your doctor’s office but don’t necessarily head straight to the emergency room or urgent care, where you might infect others.
The advice will depend on where you live and the medical health system available. Also, what the government wants you to do.
If I am pregnant and have COVID-19, does this increase the risk of miscarriage or other complications?
To date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there does not appear to be any increased risk of miscarriage or other complications such as fetal malformations for pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19.
If I get coronavirus, what is the risk of passing the virus onto my fetus or newborn?
A study of nine pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19 and had symptoms showed that none of their babies were affected by the virus. The risk of passing the infection to the fetus appears to be very low, and there is no evidence of any fetal malformations or effects due to maternal infection with COVID-19.
If I get COVID-19 – Can I breastfeed my baby?
At the moment there is no evidence of the virus in breast milk. You should still wash your hands and consider wearing a face mask to minimise infants’ exposure to the virus.
Do you have a plan for older relatives?
It would be wise to reach out now to friends or neighbours who might be able to help in such situations where your parents live a distance away from you. The elderly are at a greater risk so constant contact is not advisable.
And the question arises about visiting friends and family when baby is born. This is something you will need to plan for, for everyone’s safety!
Are there any habits I can practice at home to stay healthy?
1. Personal Hygiene
It all starts with washing your hands as soon as you walk through the door. Washing your hands frequently, as well as avoiding touching your face, eyes and nose.
2. Healthy Eating
Some healthy food items may be harder to come by. But when you can, try and consume vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods to boost your immunity.
Another way to boost your immunity and stay healthy is by exercising. So, the advice for now is to avoid large groups and that includes exercise classes and gyms.
Now, we love our prenatal group classes, and many continue in small studios where the instructors are paying attention to cleanliness. But, a safer option for now is to workout from home.
Stay Safe during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Avoid the Gym. Do Your Prenatal Workout at Home.
Now, more than ever is the time to keep you and baby safe by avoiding the gym and working out from home. My online prenatal fitness classes allow to you exercise in the privacy, safety and comfort of your home.
Takeaway for Pregnancy and Coronavirus
Don’t panic, but be prepared.
Practice safe personal hygiene standards and wash your hands constantly. Stay fit and healthy by eating well and strongly consider exercising in the privacy, comfort and safety of your home.
Corona virus and Pregnancy In the News
Here is what the experts from RCOG are saying:
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reiterate that there is currently no new evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) than other healthy individuals, or that they can pass the infection to their baby while pregnant.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“We welcome this precautionary approach as COVID-19 is a new virus, but would like to reassure pregnant women that, as things stand, no new evidence has come to light suggesting they are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell compared with other healthy individuals.
Research and data are key to monitoring the ongoing situation and the UK Obstetric Surveillance System – UKOSS – will monitor all cases of pregnant women who have a diagnosis of coronavirus.
Pregnant women who can work from home should do so.
If you can’t work from home, if you work in a public-facing role that can be modified appropriately to minimise your exposure, this should be considered and discussed with your occupational health team. We await more detailed guidance from the Government about what modifications should be made for pregnant women who cannot work from home.”
Gill Walton, CEO of the Royal College of Midwives, said:
“We understand this must be an unsettling time for pregnant women, but we would like to emphasise that attending antenatal and postnatal care when you are pregnant and have a new baby is essential to ensure the wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies, and we would urge all pregnant women who are well to attend their care as normal.
If you are pregnant and have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should call to defer routine visits until after the isolation period is over.”
Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
“It’s right that as we gain a better understanding of this virus, we continually review and update the evidence. We know this is a difficult time for many people, not least worried parents. While guidance for pregnant women has been updated, it remains the same for new mums and babies.
We don’t want to see the mother and baby separated, even when the mother tests positive for coronavirus. Similarly, our advice is that it’s fine to breastfeed – any potential risks are outweighed by the benefits. We will continue to review the evidence as it emerges.”
We will update our guidance as soon as possible.