Coronavirus during pregnancy: no need to panic

It has only been a year since everyday life around the world has changed with the appearance of the new virus. Named SARS-CoV-2, this member of the coronavirus family in most countries has put the health care system on the brink of survival, leaving millions of people without work, planned medical care, traveling, visiting relatives, and seeing friends and even their own children, literally limiting education possibilities and normal life in general. Among those who during all this time have been feeling the greatest fear of a new disease are pregnant women. Every woman expecting a baby is much concerned and asks an important question “what will happen if I get COVID-19 during pregnancy”? We have analyzed various publications on this topic, studied the recommendations of the World Health Organization and collected the information that you should know. So let’s start with the most important: in all probability neither you nor your child is in particular danger.

“I’m pregnant. Does that mean that I have a higher risk to get COVID-19?”

No, the risk of getting sick is about the same as for the general population. That is, the probability of getting infected for you does not exceed the same probability for men and non-pregnant women. Pregnancy is not a factor that makes the body more susceptible to this virus. This means that you only need to follow the general safety precautions:

  • avoid crowds
  • avoid contact with people who have signs of flue
  • wear a mask to protect your respiratory tract in public places
  • wash your hands regularly
  • be more often in the fresh air, regularly ventilate the room where you spend most of the time

“I am in my third trimester of pregnancy. Is there an increased risk of COVID-19 complications for me?”

Pregnancy as such is not a factor that provokes an increased likelihood of coronavirus complications. This applies to any trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, the presence of other risk factors can lead to a more severe course of disease. As for men and non-pregnant women, adverse factors are

  • the presence of somatic diseases, especially diabetes mellitus and hypertension
  • the presence of excessive weight, obesity

It is believed that women with late pregnancies are at greater risk of complications, but the provoking factor in this case is not pregnancy, but age and related probable health problems.

However, there is also evidence on a slightly increased risk of respiratory disorders and the need for treatment in intensive care units for pregnant women.

“I’m in my thirteenth week of pregnancy. I’ve read that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to give birth prematurely. Do I have to prepare for this?”

There is really some evidence of increased likelihood of preterm birth in pregnant women with COVID-19. But these statistics do not cover the reasons that led to the premature birth of a child. Probably, in some cases, doctors decided to make their patients give birth earlier than scheduled to alleviate the course of COVID-19 for a pregnant woman or speed up her recovery. Due to the fact that in the third trimester of pregnancy COVID-19 may be more severe because the uterus presses on the lungs and diaphragm, and a woman with pneumonia can not lie in the recommended position, on the abdomen, it might be presumed that premature birth is also initiated for this reason. However, there is no unequivocal data that would confirm that the direct presence of the virus in the body of a pregnant woman is the cause of premature birth.

“I am expecting a childbirth in the coming days and I have a positive COVID-19 test. Does this mean that my baby is also infected with the virus or can be infected at birth?”

According to the World Health Organization, there is no risk of transmitting coronavirus from a mother infected with COVID-19, as no traces of the virus have been found in amniotic fluid and breast milk samples, at least this data is not currently available.

There is also no evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted from mother to child during natural childbirth or cesarean section. The only way the virus is transmitted from the mother to a child is the airborne route.

“Will I be able to contact the baby if I have COVID-19 at the time of delivery and am I allowed to breastfeed?”

WHO experts insist that early contact and breastfeeding are important factors in a child’s normal development, and mothers with COVID-19 are not the exclusion. The recommendations of this organization state that the mother has the right to (and should, if there are no other obstacles)

  • be in the same room with the child
  • to contact with a baby, to hold it in her arms, to take care of a baby, that is, to maintain the usual physical contact between the mother and the newborn
  • breastfeed

Note: in all these cases, the woman must follow the so-called respiratory hygiene, using a medical mask or respirator to protect the respiratory tract, as well as to monitor the cleanliness of the hands. All surfaces in the room where the mother is with the newborn should be disinfected.

“I got infected with COVID-19 in the second trimester of pregnancy. What medical examinations am I allowed to be performed to diagnose the condition?”

Because X-rays and CT scans are not recommended during pregnancy, it is advised that they be replaced with an ultrasound of the lungs if possible. The scheme and content of pregnancy monitoring in women who recovered from COVID-19 are determined by the doctor. There are no special recommendations for the management of pregnancy in women who have recovered from the coronavirus.

“Will I have a caesarean section if I have COVID-19 at the time of delivery?”

No, the question of delivery tactics is decided in each situation individually. The decision to perform a caesarean section does not depend on the fact that the mother has been infected with the coronavirus, but on factors related to the condition of the woman and the fetus. Doctors and scientists are constantly receiving new data on the course and treatment of COVID-19. The available data can be considered rather steadying for pregnant women, i.e. there is no information to suggest that pregnant women are at increased risk to get sick with COVID-19 or develop its complications or a severe course of the disease. So no need to panic!