Your Questions On Breastfeeding & Pregnancy During Coronavirus Answered
Covid-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus has been recently wreaking havoc worldwide and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The disease has been spreading at an alarming rate everywhere and has greatly affected people of all strata. Some people are more susceptible to getting this virus like the older people that are above 65 years of age, people of all ages that have other underlying medical conditions like diabetes, HIV, Asthma, etc. along with pregnant women. The Coronavirus greatly affects those with a weaker immune system. Before diving in further on this subject, let us take a look at what Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what the latest world statistics say about the whole outbreak.
The Novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of the virus that belongs to the family of Coronaviruses that has never been seen in humans before. Coronaviruses are basically a large virus family that are responsible for causing the common cold in humans.
While the seasonal flu might not bring forth any fatal consequences, the SARS-CoV-2 has proven to be fatal for humans. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is known as Covid-19.
It affects the respiratory system of the body, making it difficult to breathe and can even lead to pneumonia and death. It solely spreads through human to human contact. When the respiratory droplets of an infected person come in contact with a healthy person’s mouth and nose, the virus can be transmitted. It also spreads by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the mouth, nose, and face.
The incubation period for the Coronavirus ranges from 2 to 14 days, meaning if someone has caught the virus, the symptoms might take as little as two days or as long as 14 days to show. About 80% of those tested positive exhibit very mild symptoms that are very hard to tell apart from seasonal flu. These symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
As of March 29, 2020, there are 723,390 active cases of Covid-19 worldwide, with 151,312 recoveries and 34,065 deaths. Stayed updated with country wise Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Dashboard.
Pregnant women who come under the list of those people are especially susceptible to getting infected by the Coronavirus as the body during pregnancy goes through several changes that make it more vulnerable to getting infections. Although pregnant women are more at risk of catching the Coronavirus, that, however, does not mean that they will definitely develop serious symptoms. Pregnant women, also like the majority of other people, exhibit minor symptoms; it is just that they are also among the vulnerable group. Let’s look at some of the common FAQs regarding pregnant women and the Coronavirus infection.
What effect does Covid-19 have on pregnant women?
Since the virus is relatively new, there is no research available that tell us about its long-term effects on the body of a pregnant woman. However, it can be said that pregnant women, if they do not have any underlying medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, etc. are more likely to develop mild symptoms as seen in most people affected with the Covid-19. Pregnant women are more susceptible to getting infected with the Coronavirus, and so they need to be extra careful and take frequent hand washing and sanitizing very seriously.
How can pregnant women protect themselves from getting Covid-19?
As per the CDC or Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women should pay heed to the general instructions of hygiene recommended for everyone, which is:
- covering their mouth while coughing and sneezing
- washing hands with soap or using a hand sanitizer
- avoiding contact with the sick
- avoiding social contact and staying indoors as much as possible
How would a pregnant woman be tested for Covid-19?
The testing protocols are the same for everyone, including pregnant women. If someone is exhibiting mild symptoms like a dry cough along with a fever of 37.8 degrees and above, they should self-quarantine themselves. They should use separate beds, cutlery, towels, etc. and avoid going out and meeting people. However, if the symptoms are serious like shortness of breath, a person can go for its testing. The testing procedure involves taking samples from the mouth and the nose and also mucus and saliva samples.
What should you do if you are pregnant and test positive for Covid-19?
If a pregnant woman tests positive, they should self isolate themselves at home. Consulting with doctors should be done via a phone call or through video calls. Unless there are no severe symptoms seen, there is no need to panic. After two weeks of getting recovered from the infection, an ultrasound test needs to be done to assess the health of both the mother and the fetus.
If a pregnant woman has Covid-19 coronavirus during pregnancy, will it hurt the baby?
Because the virus is very new, there are not many reports and researches on it suggesting that if the mother contracts the virus, it can have any adverse effects on the baby. There have not been any such cases regarding this matter; however, there have been some instances of babies born to Covid-19 infected mothers that were premature. But it is not sure as to whether it was actually due to the virus or not. Babies born to such patients are being tested for any signs of infection after they are born.
Should pregnant women without virus symptoms cancel their antenatal appointments during the outbreak?
Owing to the fact that most birth defects are detected during antenatal appointments; therefore, it is very important not to miss these checkups. Even with the ongoing current Coronavirus outbreak, pregnant women should not delay or postpone these regular appointments and go for these as they normally would.
Should pregnant women with virus symptoms, or those who have tested positive, cancel their antenatal appointments?
Pregnant women, if they are tested positive, should self isolate themselves for a period of two weeks and delay all antenatal appointments until that period. However, if they have any sort of emergencies, then they can reschedule their appointments at different times so as to prevent other patients from getting infected.
What if you’ve just found out that you are pregnant?
If you just found out that you were pregnant, you can register your pregnancy with the hospital or over the phone rather than going there personally.
Can you give birth as planned if you do not suspect Covid-19 coronavirus at the time of delivery?
With the number of positive cases increasing everywhere, more and more pregnant women are resorting to giving birth at home rather than going to the hospital. If the mother does not exhibit any symptoms of being infected by the virus, then it is completely fine to give birth at home provided there are qualified nurses and midwives to assist the mother. All hospitals are well equipped with all kinds of medical facilities that might be needed during deliveries, so even if a pregnant woman gives birth in a hospital, there is no harm as all women will be kept in separate rooms.
If you are suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, will this affect how you give birth?
At this point, no evidence points towards a particular type of delivery getting affected if the mother tests positive. Women to avoid any unforeseen complications should opt for delivery in an obstetric department. As here, both the mother and the baby’s vitals can be monitored continuously. If a Covid-19 patient experiences any shortness of breath, then doctors can go for an immediate C-section rather than the natural process of birthing.
Would a pregnant mother with Covid-19 coronavirus be able to breastfeed?
Since Covid-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that escape the mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, women can breastfeed their babies even when they are tested positive. However, to minimize any sort of risk, they need to periodically wash their hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer, cover their mouths with a face mask, avoid sneezing and coughing on the baby when they are breastfeeding them. There are no such reports that suggest that women with Covid-19 cannot breastfeed their babies. However, there have been certain instances in China where the mothers that were tested positive were isolated from their babies for two weeks, and this is not recommended as it can affect the baby’s health and the mother and baby bonding adversely.
Would a pregnant woman with no Covid-19 symptoms be able to attend antenatal classes?
All face to face antenatal appointments should be avoided in the wake of the virus outbreak, and so all women should discuss with their healthcare providers to come up with an alternate solution, which can be a virtual antenatal appointment.
Would a pregnant woman with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 be able to attend antenatal classes?
If the pregnant woman is tested positive or suspected to be positive, they should discuss this with their doctors and self-quarantine themselves for a period of two weeks.
Should you stockpile certain baby products?
Hoarding, whether it is everyday essentials or baby products, is never a good thing to do, especially during a virus outbreak such as the Coronavirus. Governments of every country are working tirelessly to come up with methods to keep supplying daily essentials as well as baby products to all retail stores. Hoarding is not a good idea for a lot of people because one person might not be able to get access to important things when needed.
How can you manage your anxiety as a pregnant woman during the Covid-19 outbreak?
Given the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic is a serious matter and so panicking is an unavoidable reaction still everyone especially pregnant women should periodically distract themselves from reading or watching the news about the outbreak and instead should focus on other things like getting enough sleep, staying well hydrated, eating a balanced diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits, going for a half an hour walk to reduce stress or even practicing yoga at home.
If you suspect that you have COVID-19 and are seeking an evaluation of the disease, please contact your healthcare provider and local or state health department immediately. Click here to download the COVID-19 patient resource, and click here to access a list of frequently asked questions.