No doubt we’re all stressed during the coronavirus pandemic crisis. However, I can imagine that pregnant women’s panic is double. They have many questions and concerns regarding the higher risk of contracting COVID- 19 and whether this would affect their pregnancies or newborns.
Am I at high risk during pregnancy of contracting an infection?
According to a study published in March 2020 by Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, there is no clear evidence that pregnant women are more susceptible to a coronavirus infection. However, during pregnancy the immune system is subjected to many changes, and getting a viral infection like COVID- 19 can cause severe complications to a pregnant patient especially during the third trimester.
However, there are no reported deaths of pregnant women due to coronavirus.
Does coronavirus affect my pregnancy?
The study stated that there is currently no proven research that COVID- 19 might cause miscarriage or early delivery. The studies of coronavirus are still limited and the situation changes on a daily basis. There is a pregnant case that has undergone an emergency c-section of a stillborn baby at week 34 and was transferred to the intensive care unit with multiple organs dysfunction and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Does coronavirus affect my fetus?
Every pregnant mom is currently afraid of the possibility of transmitting COVID- 19 to her fetus or that the virus might cause some genetic disorders. The study explained that until now it has not been proven that the virus is teratogenic (causes malformation to the fetus), has congenital effects on the embryo, or that it could be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus.
An important clinical study to consider
A study was conducted in February 2020 by Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, China, where 9 pregnant coronavirus patients with pneumonia were observed. The 9 women (age range between 26 and 40 years old) were all in the third trimester.
- They all had a history of epidemiological exposure to COVID-19 (contact with an infected person).
- None of the patients had underlying diseases such as diabetes, chronic hypertension, or cardiovascular disease. One patient only had gestational hypertension at week 27, while another developed pre-eclampsia at week 31.
- 7 out of 9 suffered from fever, lower than 39°C.
- 4 patients had a cough, 3 had myalgia and 2 reported a sore throat. Another patient had shortness of breath.
- All patients were given oxygen support and empirical antibiotic treatment but didn’t need mechanical ventilation.
- None of the 9 patients developed severe pneumonia or passed away.
- Data showed that 5 of the 9 women had lymphopenia.
- 9 live births were recorded. No fetal death, neonatal death, or neonatal asphyxia were observed. Four patients had preterm labor.
Medical precautions to be taken
While pregnancy doesn’t make you more prone to a coronavirus infection, low immunity might. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists listed some precautions that should be taken by pregnant women to avoid an infection:
- Avoid contact with COVID- 19 patients, people with potential symptoms, or those who have just come from abroad.
- Reduce the number of gynecologist visits if there are no pregnancy complications.
- Wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces at home.
- Avoid touching your mouth or nose with unwashed hands.
- Eat well-balanced meals, drink water frequently, and avoid smoking.
- Work from home and avoid public places.
- Get some fresh air and sunlight in a balcony or home garden
Psychological health is important as well
We all know that hormonal changes during pregnancy cause mood swings, sadness, or anger and we know how difficult it is to stay calm especially with social distancing from your parents and friends. Try to occupy yourself with some quality activities.
- Read books or watch comedy movies. Avoid stressful ones.
- Find online workout, yoga or meditation programs for pregnancy.
- Revamp an old hobby like painting or sewing.
- Challenge your friends on Instagram.
- Have video calls with your family or friends.
- Avoid information and news from unreliable sources and shared Whatsapp voice notes.
- Seek help from your partner especially if you have an elder child.
Being cautious doesn’t mean panicking. Take the necessary steps and if you have any potential symptoms, consult your gynecologist and a chest physician.
Stay safe, stay at home.
Further reading: Foods and Vitamins to Boost your Immune System Against Coronavirus.