3 June 2020
- Dr. Jayeshnee Moodley
CORONA VIRUS & PREGNANCY
The coronavirus is carried when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching surfaces
which has been contaminated by an infected person.
The most effective way of protecting yourself is by washing your hands regularly; not touching
your face and social distancing. There is currently no evidence to suggest that pregnant women
are at higher risk of becoming infected with coronavirus than the general population. If you
do contract the disease, it is most likely that you will only experience mild to moderate flu like
symptoms. For pregnant women who are infected with coronavirus, it seems that there is no
increased risk of miscarriage or having a baby with abnormalities. At the moment, there is
also no evidence to suggest that a pregnant woman can pass on the virus to her unborn baby
or that the virus can be passed on through breastmilk. However, since the virus is passed on
through respiratory droplets, it is important that you wash your hands before breastfeeding and
that you consider wearing a mask, if you have one. Avoid coughing or sneezing while you are
breastfeeding your baby.
Unless it is essential, travel should be avoided. Currently, the test for coronavirus involves a
swab being taken from your nose or mouth. If you test positive with mild or no symptoms, you
will be advised to stay at home to recover under self isolation guidelines. If your symptoms are
severe, you may have to be treated in hospital. If you are in self-isolation, it is most likely that
your routine antenatal visits will be delayed until the self-isolation period is over. You should
contact your doctor to let them know that you are in self-isolation and get their advice on how
and when to proceed with antenatal visits.
To ensure that your baby is well, you will most probably have an ultrasound scan two weeks after
your recovery. Once you have recovered from the coronavirus infection, when and how you give
birth will not be affected by your previous illness.
COVID positive patients are advised to give birth in a hospital obstetric unit where your baby
can be monitored regularly. Thus, homebirths or births where only a midwife is present, are not
advised. Water births are also not advised. Your coronavirus status should not affect how you
give birth, so you should stick to your birth plan as far as possible. A caesarean section may be
necessary if respiratory complication occur. Options for pain relief include epidurals or spinal
blocks or pethidine injections. Etonox (gas and air) cannot be used in labour as it may cause the
virus to spread.
If you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus at the time of birth, your baby will be tested. If
your baby is well and doesn't require neonatal care, then after giving birth, your baby can room in
with you. Your baby can breastfeed under strict infection control and prevention guidelines.
We are living in unprecedented times however if we all do our part and stand united in this global
cause, we can defeat this pandemic.