This is a difficult time for mothers and expectant mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article we try to answer some of the most common questions we receive with the latest guidance from the World Health Organisation.
Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?
Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID 19 infection on pregnant women. Data are limited, but at present there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population.
However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.
I’m pregnant. How do I protect myself against COVID-19?
Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. You can help protect yourself by:
- Washing your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Keeping space between yourselves and others and avoiding crowded spaces.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practicing respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
If you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call before going to a health facility, and follow the directions of your local health authority.Pregnant women and women who have recently delivered – including those affected by COVID-19 – should attend their routine care appointments.
Can COVID-19 be passed from a woman to her unborn or new born baby?
We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the active virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.
Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to give birth by Caesarean section?
No. WHO advice is that caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified.The mode of birth should be individualized and based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
Can I touch or hold my newborn baby if I have COVID-19?
Yes. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. You should be supported to
- Breastfeed safely, with good respiratory hygiene;
- Hold your newborn skin-to-skin, and
- Share a room with your baby
You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean.
For more information, visit WHO