Coronavirus and Your Baby - Why You SHOULDN'T Worryby Robert Dunne
ARGH, THE END OF THE WORLD IS HERE! Firstly, no, it isn’t. Secondly, you might be sat there thinking ‘what happens to my little one if I contract coronavirus?’ and the simple answer is, like with most cases of coronavirus, very little. So calm down, pack up your lifetime supplies of hand sanitizer, and just give this a read to ease your mind about everything to do with coronavirus and your pregnancy.
‘I'm pregnant, what effects might the virus have on me?’
After a number of tests on patients, it’s been decided that pregnant women do not seem to be more susceptible to the virus. It is true, however, that we can not be sure of the exact ways it may affect you, despite this, it is thought pregnant women will only experience mild or moderate cold or flu-like symptoms. There are currently no reported deaths of pregnant women, although it does need to be remembered that in general people with underlying conditions or those of an older age are more likely to experience severe symptoms.
‘What effect will the virus have on my baby if I’m infected?’
Very simply, the evidence currently suggests that the virus cannot be passed to your baby during pregnancy. One thing to note is that some babies born to patients in China were born prematurely, however it is yet to be confirmed whether this is linked to the virus. If you are worried about your baby during your self-isolation period, do not go to A&E or a maternity triage unit. Instead, contact your midwife, or, out of hours, your maternity team, they will then decide whether you need to visit the hospital. If you do, travel via either private or hospital transport, and warn the maternity triage reception prior to arriving. But it needs to be remembered that at this moment there is no evidence suggesting the virus can be passed to your baby, although they will be tested for it post-delivery for safety.
‘What should I do if I test positive for the virus?’
Firstly, make sure you contact your midwife or antenatal team, making them aware of your diagnosis. If you have mild or no symptoms, you will be advised to recover at home, although if your symptoms are more severe, you may be treated at a hospital. Whatever the decision, remember not to worry.
‘Can I go to antenatal classes if I am in self-isolation?’
Your midwife or antenatal clinic will need to be informed that you are in self-isolation for confirmed or unconfirmed coronavirus. At this point, they will be able to advise on what will happen. It is likely that your classes will be delayed until your isolation is over. If your midwife or doctor feels the appointment cannot wait, then the appropriate arrangements will be made, for example attending a different time or clinic.
‘How will self-isolation affect my birth?’
In regards to where, as a precaution, it is being advised that women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus attend an obstetric unit, where you and your baby can be most effectively monitored. It is not currently recommended that you give birth at home or in a midwife-led unit, this is so that constant monitoring can happen to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
In regards to how, there currently is no evidence suggesting that you cannot give birth vaginally or that a caesarean would be safer, so your birth plan should be followed as closely as it can be for your benefit. If your breathing suggests that you may need an urgent delivery, a caesarean may be recommended.
For pain relief, there is currently nothing to suggest that women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus can’t have an epidural or spinal block. Although, Entonox (gas and air) is not recommended due to the possibility of it spreading the virus. Your maternity team will discuss with you all the available options for pain relief on the day.
‘What if I go into labour during self-isolation?’
In this situation, call your maternity unity, informing them that you have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus. If your symptoms are mild, you will likely be encouraged to continue standard practise by staying at home during early labour. When you and your maternity team make the decision to send you to the maternity unit, it is recommended that you get to the hospital by private transport, or contact 999/111 for advice if you are unable to do this, you will be given a surgical face mask which will need to be worn until you are suitably isolated, and visitors during this period should be kept to a minimum.
‘Will I be able to stay with my baby once they’re born?’
Of course, although this is your choice. This is also providing that your baby is well and doesn’t require neonatal care. Despite this, a discussion should happen between you and your family and doctors about the risks and benefits, to allow your care to be individualised. This advice may change as more is discovered about the virus.
‘Can I breastfeed my baby?’
Yes, currently there is no evidence suggesting the virus can be carried in breastmilk, and therefore the known benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of transmission through breastmilk. The main risk, however, of breastfeeding is the close contact between you and your baby. So if you choose to breastfeed it is advised that you wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pumps, or bottles, wear a face-mask while feeding, thoroughly clean pumps after use, or if you cannot do these, consider asking someone who is well to feed expressed milk to your baby.
This advice has all come directly from the findings of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and is subject to change as more is discovered about the virus. However, if you are still concerned about the wellbeing of you or your baby, then do not hesitate to contact your doctor or midwife, as they will have been properly informed surrounding the necessary practices surrounding pregnancy at the moment and so will be able to give you personal advice to your circumstances. But essentially from all of this, the main message is, don’t panic, as everything will be ok.
If you want to read more from the findings of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists click here