While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow and affect the lives of millions around the world, one of the biggest concerns about this infection is the effects on pregnant mothers. Moreover, the possibility of disease spread to the developing fetus. The new coronavirus is affecting people of all ages. Pregnant mothers come under risk of coronavirus due to low immunity. Therefore, it is essential to stay protected and follow the precautionary steps diligently.
Many types of research have expressed limited data with no clinical evidence stating that the novel coronavirus cannot transmit to the fetus. However, there is a need for more studies and clinical observations to confirm this fact. Today’s article will highlight the risk of COVID-19 on the health of a pregnant mother. Furthermore, we will discuss the effects of coronavirus on the fetus.
What is the risk of COVID-19 on the health of a pregnant mother?
Usually, from the current data around the world, it appears that pregnant women experience mild to moderate symptoms of coronavirus when infected. These symptoms typically include dry cough, fever, headache, and loss of smell and taste.
However, the severe symptoms of coronavirus, such as pneumonia, seem to be uncommon among pregnant women. Moreover, it is a common symptom among older people due to compromised immunity. (1)
There is no enough data yet to confirm that every pregnant woman will not advance to severe complications. Therefore, it is best to follow the protective guidelines such as social distancing, home isolation, and personal hygiene. Furthermore, monitor your symptoms and inform your doctor about it.
Does COVID-19 get transferred to the fetus?
Currently, there are conflicting data observations that o does not provide clear evidence of virus transmission to the fetus. Typically, the preliminary research shows that the virus does not pass from mother to fetus in the womb. (2)
This research was based on the findings from amniotic fluid, cord blood, and baby’s throat swab test. Breast milk was also tested to find any evidence of the virus. However, all the test reports were negative for coronavirus.
While the health authorities suggest that it is unlikely for the virus to transmit to the fetus in the womb, there have been few cases that showed a probability of vertical transmission. There is a need for extensive study and research to determine the possibility of infection spread from mother to fetus in the womb.
- Also read: Yoga During Pregnancy – An Expert’s Guide
What are the pregnancy complications associated with COVID-19?
Although, it is too soon to comment on the complications of pregnancy due to limited data, there are few situations that pregnant women must be aware of –
- The CDC recently shared reports from health data that suggest a high risk of premature delivery – estimated to be at least four weeks before the due date.
- Risk of congenital disabilities in the fetus due to poor oxygenation in case of pneumonia experienced by a pregnant mother.
- Elevated body temperature due to coronavirus infection may also lead to developmental disability, especially during the first trimester. Additionally, fever during the third trimester can trigger premature delivery.
What are the precautions necessary to protect a pregnant mother?
The best way to stay protected is to follow the precautionary guidelines as recommended by the CDC –
- Personal hygiene – wash your hands frequently with soap water for at least 20 seconds. Use a hand sanitizer that has 60% alcohol. Use disposable tissue during coughing and sneezing. Discard the tissue in a closed dustbin and wash your hands immediately.
- Home isolation is best to avoid physical contact with other people. Work from home and avoid traveling in public transport.
- Social distancing – maintain six feet distance from the people around you to minimize the risk of contracting the disease from an infected person.
- Monitor your symptoms and inform your doctor on call if you feel any changes in your health.
- Try to organize virtual calls and appointments to minimize the risk of infection spread by going to the hospital and waiting for long hours. however, unavoidable tests such as ultrasounds, fetal testing, and blood work may be performed by following universal precautions at the hospital.
- Flu shots may not protect you from coronavirus. However, it will help to build immunity against opportunistic infections such as influenza and other respiratory illness that may complicate your pregnancy. (3)
Is breastfeeding safe during the pandemic?
Currently, there is no specific data that opposes or supports the risk of virus transmission to babies through nursing. The CDC encourages breastfeeding as it protects against many illnesses. Moreover, it is the best source of nutrition for a newborn baby. However, there are few precautions you must take while breastfeeding the child –
- If you are sick and choose to breastfeed directly, wear a facemask, and wash your hands before you start feeding. Do this every time you breastfeed your child. (4)
In the case of mothers who are sick and choose to express breast milk –
- A dedicated pump should be used to express the milk
- Clean the pump and the bottle parts thoroughly
- Wash your hands before touching the pump, bottle and also before expressing the breast milk
- If possible, ask a healthy member of the family to feed the expressed milk to the infant.
Take away message
Although it is very uncertain what coronavirus brings to pregnant women and its transmission to fetus in the womb or through nursing, it is best to take extra precautions and protect yourself and the baby from the deadly coronavirus.
There is no clear evidence that puts pregnant women on a risk radar. However, premature delivery and congenital disabilities can cause unwanted complications during pregnancy. It is essential to pay attention to your health and contact your doctor to address any health issues regarding COVID-19 or pregnancy in general.
Follow personal hygiene, social distancing, and home isolation to prevent the spread of infection. Moreover, stay informed with the current updates on the pandemic spread.