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Covid-19 Infection and Your Pregnancy - What You Need To Know

Covid-19

We are all learning more and more about Coronavirus everyday. In the obstetric community, we are all coming together both nationally and internationally to share valuable information so that we can best care for our pregnant patients.  Several European countries and China have been experiencing the impact of this disease and our obstetric counterparts have published additional information and guidance for pregnancy management.

After reviewing many of these valuable resources, I have put together the following helpful information for pregnant women and their families.

  1. What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?

Pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be severely ill when compared to other healthy adults if they become infected with Covid-19.  There is no evidence that pregnant women who get this infection are more at risk of serious complications than any other healthy individuals.  Most pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.  More severe symptoms such as pneumonia appear to be more common in older people, those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions.

If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19 you should contact your Obstetric provider. If you develop more severe symptoms or your recovery is delayed this may be a sign that you are developing a more significant chest infection that requires enhanced care. Our advice remains that if you feel your symptoms are worsening or if you are not getting better you should contact your OB provider immediately.

  1. Why are pregnant women considered a high-risk group?

Based on the evidence we have so far, pregnant women are still no more likely to contract coronavirus than the general population. What we do know is that pregnancy in a small proportion of women can alter how your body handles severe viral infections. This is something that obstetric providers have known for many years and are used to dealing with. There is no evidence that pregnant women who get this infection are more at risk of serious complications than any other healthy individuals.  We know that some viral infections are worse in pregnant women. There is limited evidence that this is the case for coronavirus infection.

  1. What can I do to reduce my risk of being infected with coronavirus?

The most important thing to do is to follow the recommendations from our government and local officials. For pregnant women, this includes:

  1. Should I keep my OB appointments?

Attending your prenatal visit is important to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby. Please check with your individual OB provider's office for instructions on your visits.  Many office visits are being conducted using videoconferencing, provided there is a reasonable expectation that maternal observations or ultrasound are not required, such as high-risk pregnancies that require increased monitoring. It is very important that you help your obstetric providers take care of you.

If you have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should contact your obstetric provider to postpone your visit until after the isolation period is over.

  1. Should I still go to work? 

Pregnant women who can work from home should do so. If you can’t work from home or if you work in a public-facing role that can be modified appropriately to minimize your exposure, this should be considered and discussed with your employer.

  1. What should I do if I think I may have coronavirus or been exposed?

If you are pregnant and you have either:

You should quarantine for 14 days and contact your obstetric provider immediately and inform them. Testing will be performed as per your local hospital and health department guidelines.

If you have concerns about the wellbeing of yourself or your unborn baby during your quarantine, contact your OB provider. They will provide further advice, including whether you need to be evaluated at the hospital.

  1. What effect will coronavirus have on my baby if I am diagnosed with the infection?

Covid-19 infection is a very new virus that we are just beginning to learn more about it. There is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage.  There is also no evidence that the virus can pass to your baby while you are pregnant or during birth (this is called vertical transmission). Few cases of possible vertical transmission have been reported and, in both cases, it remains unclear whether transmission was prior to or soon after birth. Another recent report from China of four women with coronavirus infection found no evidence of the infection in their newborn babies when they gave birth. Expert opinion is that the baby is unlikely to be exposed during pregnancy. Currently there is no evidence that if you have the virus it would cause problems with the baby’s development.

Some babies born to women with symptoms of coronavirus in China have been born prematurely. It is unclear whether coronavirus caused early labor, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early in order to preserve the mother’s health.

Stay tuned for additional Coronavirus updates and what you can do to stay safe during your pregnancy. As more data becomes available, that information will be shared to keep you informed as to the impacts to your pregnancy care.

If you found this article helpful be sure to check back here for future blogs and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for even more helpful information on Coronavirus!

Excerpts taken from the Royal College of Obestetricians and Gynaecologists publication on Coronavirus Infection and Pregnancy.  More information can be found here https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/
 
 
Author
Sasha Davidson, MD

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