Being pregnant is a joyous, and yet often stressful, experience. Here’s what you should know about COVID-19 and Pregnancy.
For many women, becoming pregnant is one of the most exciting experiences of their lifetime. Many have waited in hopeful anticipation for this moment. Regardless of COVID-19 and what it means for all of us, pregnancy is still a time for celebration. It’s important to be aware of the changes that this new disease has brought with it. It’s also important to be mindful of your mental as well as your physical health.
COVID-19, and the virus that causes the illness, SARS-COV-2, are still new to researchers, scientists, and doctors. With fresh information coming to light each and every day, all directions and projections about what to expect from this novel bug are still tenuous at best. The following is information that coincides with the most current information that the medical community has. Answering important questions and facing fear with education is an important part of your pregnancy journey. At ilaya, we will always strive to put you and your baby’s health as our top priority. Bringing you the best information to keep you on track and well cared for.
COVID 19 and Pregnancy
There is still little information on how exactly the novel Coronavirus affects pregnant women and their unborn children. This is largely because there has yet to be large amounts of data regarding severely symptomatic pregnant women. Currently, research suggests that most women will only likely have a very minor cold or flu symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose and track how the virus may behave in the female population.
While being pregnant doesn’t necessarily make us more vulnerable to infection or illness, it does change how our immune systems, and our bodies, behave. However, the little evidence that exists does suggest that pregnant women respond to the infection similarly to their non-pregnant peers. The virus spreads in pregnant women in the same way that it spreads in other populations. Via viral particles that are found in mucous, feces and inanimate objects that may have these particles on them.
Spread has been noted in two ways: the first is person-to-person. Which means that coming into close contact (2m or 6ft) with others who have the illness. The other way in which the virus can be spread is by coming in direct contact with contaminated objects. And/or people and then touching your own face, nose, or mouth.
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COVID 19 and Pregnancy: How it Affects the Mother
With the evidence that we have now, it’s believed that there may be a number of people that can have the virus, but experience little to no symptoms. This belief is thought to hold true for pregnant women as well, especially in the early days of gestation.
Communities like the elderly, people with diabetes, heart, and lung disease, and immunocompromised or cancer patients are more likely to experience extreme symptoms of this disease. There is a suggestion that these types of symptoms could occur in pregnant women as well, especially those who are reaching term, however, as of now, those risks appear to be small.
As our bodies change during pregnancy, the risks of low oxygen levels and irregular blood clotting increase specifically in the last trimester. These risks may continue to increase in conjunction with COVID-19 infection. Looking at other types of similar infectious diseases, like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), or H1N1 (influenza) researchers believe there may be an increased risk of severe infection during late-stage pregnancy. But, keep in mind that all of our bodies are different, and how one person reacts to the illness may not hold true for another.
How it Affects the Baby
Current evidence suggests that your growing or recently born child may be able to become infected with COVID-19 should you have it while pregnant or giving birth. But, keep in mind that while this type of transmission has been noted, it hasn’t been seen or reported often, so doctors are still unsure as to how this can, or will, affect the mother or the child.
While doctors are still keeping a close eye on pregnant mothers and their developing children, there’s just a few reports to gain information from at the moment. Which may prove to be encouraging. Currently, none of the information that has been gathered suggests that the novel Coronavirus can cause an increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects. There’s also no current indications that the virus causes preterm labor.
In fact, few cases of induced labor have been noted at all, and in the handful that exist, labor was induced because of complications to the mother’s health and not the child’s.
COVID 19 and Pregnancy: How to Protect Yourself and Child
In some countries, pregnant women have been described as especially vulnerable populations. While this sounds pretty alarming, understand that it’s merely a precaution and no current evidence suggests that pregnant women are any more likely to experience severe illness than those in their non-pregnant peer group.
However, research does suggest that everyone should treat this illness with extreme precaution and do everything within their power to restrict the spread of the disease. In many places, governments have already started to mandate strict social distancing laws and practices. These times can often feel a bit eerie and definitely uncomfortable if not lonely. Try and remember that empty streets and shops are merely a sign of a caring and united community. Everyone is doing their part to keep their neighbors and friends safe.
Should you be experiencing pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, lung issues, or heart problems- it’s important to be very careful about your social interactions. As are those people that have these types of complications normally.
Good hand hygiene and social distancing are both great measures to take to help promote your own personal safety. It’s also important to be in close contact with your pregnancy team when it comes to regular check-ups and appointments. Talk to your doctor before you plan to attend any of your scheduled appointments. As they may have special recommendations for you at this time.
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Changes to the Child Birthing Process
Depending on your local guidelines, and how your maternity team addresses the pandemic in their area, there can be some pretty big changes to birth plans. These decisions are made with the health and safety of both you and your baby in mind. Some guidelines may seem scary or unfair. Remember that the guidelines exist based on the experience and expertise of your doctor.
In some areas, partners are not allowed to attend births. Also, visitors could be restricted, or there may be special PPE (personal protective equipment) like gowns, masks, face shields, and goggles that will be worn by your team. These provisions can sometimes make us feel a bit isolated and alien- especially during such a personal and unique experience. Talk with your doctor and family early on about what to expect from your birth plan at this time. Always try and remain calm, remembering that the most important thing is the health of your and your family.
Now more than ever is a great time to seek counseling or psychological support during your pregnancy. Talk often with friends and family and don’t feel guilty about expressing fears and frustrations. Remember that this is a difficult time for many. And each and every one of us are doing our best to create a better tomorrow. Despite the hardships, pregnancy is often such a happy occasion. You should feel free to indulge in your excitement and joy of the upcoming milestone and what it means to your family.