This plague is creating panic and freaking people out all over the world and now its reached Pakistan. And we are trying to cope with the precautions and trying to be as safe as possible.
However if you are pregnant, it’s natural that you would feel more concerned about the new COVID-19, that is rapidly spreading across the globe. Although many cases of the virus are mild, the virus is causing serious illness and death in some cases. You are probably wondering how the virus might affect you and your most important asset: your growing baby.
In general, pregnant women are more susceptible to illness than non-pregnant women, as pregnancy decreases your immune system response.
“Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19,”
Again, there is limited information as of now about how COVID-19 in particular affects pregnant women. But based on the previous outbreaks of coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, doctors warn that pregnant women “may be at higher risk of severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared with the general population.”
But what about COVID-19 specifically, you may ask? Again, the data is limited, but the information we do have points to a possible less severe outcome in terms of illness harshness for pregnant women.
Here’s a small study about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women.
- Nine pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19 were studied
- All of the women delivered in Wuhan, China in January 2020
- None of the mothers developed severe symptoms of illness or pneumonia
- None of the mothers died
- COVID-19 was not found in the amniotic fluid, cord blood, or breastmilk of the mothers
- The newborns themselves were not born infected with COVID-19
Here’s what the WHO report found:
- The report looked at 147 pregnant women
- 64 were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, 82 had suspected cases, and 1 had no symptoms
- 8% of those women had “severe disease”; 1% were critical
- The WHO concluded that: “As opposed to Influenza A(H1N1), pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk of severe disease.”
How Does COVID-19 Affect Pregnancy?
Unpleasant Effect on Babies
It is known that high fevers increase the risk of birth defects in babies. In general there is evidence that viruses like influenza can cause adverse outcomes for babies, such as premature birth and low birth weight. Other coronaviruses—SARS and MERS—have been associated with preterm birth and small-for-gestation age babies.
On a more positive note, the babies born to mothers with COVID-19 that have been studied thus far (again, these studies are small and only looked at end of pregnancy outcomes) have not shown adverse health outcomes.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no information about how COVID-19 affects the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Again, the only studies we have about COVID-19 looked at women in their third trimesters, which is important to keep in mind as you consider the risk of miscarriage.
Can a Pregnant Ammi Pass COVID-19 to Her Baby?
“Whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus (before, during, or after delivery) is still unknown.”
So far, though, there have been no recorded cases of mothers transmitting COVID-19 to their babies in utero. A study found no transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby, and the virus was not found in amniotic fluid or cord blood.
Are There Special Precautions a Pregnant Ammi Should Take?
As a general rule, pregnant women should always take extra precautions to avoid contracting an illness, because of the risk it poses to both them and their developing babies. And because there is still so much we don’t know about COVID-19, it makes sense for pregnant women to continue to be vigilant in terms of protecting themselves from infection.
“In general, although there is no evidence to suggest pregnant ammis get sicker or spread the virus to their infants, we would recommend taking the standard precautions to avoid infection,”
Here are our top recommendations:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when hand washing is not possible
- Make sure to stay away from sick people
- Stay home whenever possible if you are sick
- Don’t forget the basics: get enough sleep and keep a healthy diet
- Make sure all your routine vaccines, including influenza, are up to date