Life as we know it, has come to a standstill and a certain Covid-19 coronavirus is behind this shift in our daily lives. Anybody and everybody can catch the novel coronavirus infection – from children to older people to even pregnant women. Pregnancy is already a delicate affair, and in the times of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it can be terrifying to have to keep yourself safe. If you’re pregnant or are soon going to give birth to your baby, you must be having a lot of questions concerning the impact of this pandemic on you and your baby.
As the COVID-19 coronavirus is still new, there is very limited information available on its impact on pregnancy. In this article, we have tried to answer some common questions that you may have related to pregnancy and the novel coronavirus, and how you can keep yourself safe during this time. First, let’s find out how the coronavirus infection spreads.
What Is the Coronavirus and How Does it Spread?
The Covid-19 coronavirus is a respiratory disease that spreads through human to human transmission. The virus spreads when the respiratory droplets of an infected person are released into the air when he/she sneezes or coughs. The infection may also spread when someone touches a surface or an object infected by a person tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
What Are the Symptoms of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection During Pregnancy?
The symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are similar to that of cold and flu, and other common respiratory issues. The symptoms can appear in as early as two days or as long as 14 days after being exposed to this virus, and can range from mild to moderate to severe. The mild to moderate symptoms of this infection are:
- shortness of breath
- other cold/flu-like symptoms
Pneumonia and marked hypoxia are the severe symptoms of COVID-19 and can be observed in the elderly. Pregnant women and people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, and cancer may also have these symptoms.
Are Pregnant Women At a Greater Risk of the COVID-19 Coronavirus?
Given that the virus is novel, little can be said about its impact on pregnant women. As per the information published on CDC, the COVID-19 coronavirus poses the same risk to pregnant women like the flu or other respiratory illnesses, and at present, it can’t be said (or confirmed) that pregnant women are at a greater risk of catching this infection as compared to those women who aren’t pregnant. However, it’s best to keep immunity high and take the utmost precaution.
What Are the Chances of Miscarriage If a Pregnant Woman Is Tested Positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus?
From the little information available, it is hard to conclude that pregnant women are at an increased risk of miscarriage due to the COVID-19 infection. However, certain other complications such as preterm birth were reported in babies born to women infected with COVID-19. But it cannot be said for sure if the preterm births were due to the novel Coronavirus or some other complications that may have occurred at the time of pregnancy. So if you are pregnant, do not panic thinking about the worst – stay positive and worry less. Most importantly, stay at home and lead a healthy lifestyle, and you and your baby shall be fine.
Can a Pregnant Woman Infected With the COVID-19 Pass the Infection to the Unborn Baby?
At present, there is no evidence that suggests a pregnant woman tested positive for COVID-19 infection can pass it to the baby during pregnancy (also known as vertical transmission). As per a Chinese study, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, it is claimed that the virus does not pass on to the baby from the mother infected with COVID-19. However, the subjects of the study were only four pregnant women with this infection. The infants born to these women were isolated and did not develop any symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus. Three out of the four babies were tested negative while the parents of the fourth child denied permission for conducting the test.
It was reported that a newborn was tested positive for coronavirus in London. The newborn’s mother who was reported to be suspected with pneumonia also caught the virus. However, it is not known if the baby caught the infection during pregnancy or at the time of birth. More research needs to be conducted before coming to any conclusion. For a healthy pregnancy, the best thing you can do is to stay home and follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid catching the infection in the first place.
What Can Pregnant Women Do to Protect From the COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection?
As no vaccine has been developed for COVID-19 coronavirus yet, pregnant women can take certain preventive measures just like the general public to avoid infection. If you are pregnant, here’s what you can do to lower your chances of catching this infection.
- First things first, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; remember to wash your hands after you use the toilet, right after you enter your home, before and after eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after blowing your nose.
- Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer handy, and use it as and when needed.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
- In case you do touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, refer to point 1 then point 4
- Practice social distancing – it’s the NEED of the hour. Click here to know what it is.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue while sneezing or coughing and dispose of the tissue immediately.
- Contact your doctor if you notice even the slightest symptoms.
Delivering a Baby With the Covid-19 Infection
A woman with the COVID-19 infection can go into labour and deliver the baby and still recover from the infection, but that depends on the severity of the infection. As far as the newborn is concerned, he or she may or may not contract the COVID-19 infection. Some babies may get the infection, others may not. Even if the baby is tested positive, it has not been concluded that he may have been infected while in the womb or at the time of birth, so nothing can be said for sure.
However, in order to prevent the baby from being exposed to this infection, the doctors may keep him in a neonatal unit, isolating him from the mother. And he may be formula-fed until the mother recovers completely.
1. What Should I Do If I am Tested Positive for COVID-19 While Pregnant?
If you’re tested positive for the coronavirus, you should inform your gynaecologist about the same. In the case of mild symptoms, you will be asked to self-isolate at home. However, if the symptoms are severe, you will be treated in a hospital.
2. Will My Baby Be Also Tested for the Coronavirus?
Yes, if you are suspected or tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus infection during pregnancy or when your baby is born, your baby too will be tested for the same at the time of birth.
As no vaccine has been developed for the COVID-19 coronavirus yet, the best thing a pregnant woman can do to protect herself from this infection is maintain hygiene, eat healthy to strengthen her immune system, practice social distancing, and worry less. We understand that being pregnant during the outbreak of the coronavirus can make you anxious, but taking good care of yourself and staying indoors, especially during the coronavirus outbreak can help prevent this infection and increase your chances of a healthier pregnancy.