We are living in crazy times. Crazy, crazy times. If you ever wondered what life would be like if your country was at war this is it. But instead of a war against an enemy country or group within your country, the enemy is an invisible virus: Coronavirus or COVID-19 and it has today infected and therefore impacted 196 countries in the world. Today (25th March 2020) counting almost 450.000 people infected and almost 20.000 people dead. I am calling it WW3.
I decided to write about this because I am pregnant and the lack of enough information or evidence about my specific condition and the impact this virus may (or not) have on me and my baby is making me anxious. It doesn’t take much to make a pregnant lady anxious, it is true but in this case where everyone is anxious the lack of information is concerning. So I decided to gather here all the information I can find.
As with anything there are mixed views. Back on 16th March, pregnant women were placed under the vulnerable group by the Chief Medical Officer of Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecologists in the UK. This is because pregnant women’s natural immunity usually is reduced during pregnancy so they do not reject the foetus. But there has not been enough cases of pregnant women with the virus to draw any conclusive findings. That in itself is very positive because if within 450.000 worldwide cases there has not been enough pregnant women infected (or with symptoms), it suggests this is not a risk group, but of course more evidence is needed.
My personal conclusions based on everything that I read is:
- Pregnant women are not more at risk than the general population
- There is no evidence that having the virus increases the chances of a miscarriage
- There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or delivery
- There is no evidence that it can cause abnormalities in an unborn baby
- Newborn babies and infants are at a slight higher risk than older children, who have a very low rate of infection and almost miraculous death rates
- No new born babies or infants have succumbed to the virus
- The virus does not seem to pass from mother to baby through breastfeeding, so this is not a reason to stop breastfeeding
- An earlier recommendation that infected mothers should separate from their newborns has been lifted, but all care givers with the virus should be extra careful with hygiene and consider wearing a face mask while feeding or holding the baby to prevent infection
The overall recommendation for all pregnant women everywhere is to practice social distancing and self-isolation whenever possible. Follow the cleaning and hygiene guidelines. Wash your hands with soap thoroughly and often. Attend your antenatal appointments only if you are asymptomatic. They are important to ensure you are having a healthy pregnancy and your baby is developing as it should.
If you feel any of the symptoms: fever, dry cough, tiredness (more than usual, of course) and shortness of breath (severe cases), please call a healthcare provider in your location and describe your symptoms. DO NOT go to the Emergency Room (ER), Maternity ward or your local clinic as you risk infecting others.
Be safe. Be cautious. But be calm. This too shall pass.