Pregnancy During COVID 19: How Can it Affect You And Your Baby?
Given the situation in India right now, people all over the country are worried about their safety and well-being. This worry is even worse for people who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant. The uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is cause of worry for many couples.
In this article, we will discuss in detail about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies and precautions they can take against infection during pregnancy to have a safe pregnancy amidst this pandemic.
Table Of Contents
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
- What effect does Coronavirus have on pregnant women?
- What effect will Coronavirus have on your baby if you test positive for COVID-19?
- What are the effects of Coronavirus in the first trimester
- Precautions for pregnant women against Coronavirus
- Preventing the spread of COVID-19 to the baby
- How can a Gynecologist help you to fight against Covid-19 during your Pregnancy?
What effect does Coronavirus have on pregnant women?
Pregnant or newly pregnant women, who are older, overweight or have comorbidities like Hypertension or Diabetes have shown to be more affected by the coronavirus, although more research is required to be sure of the effects of the coronavirus on pregnant women and their babies.
Due to changes in the body and the immune system during pregnancy, the pregnant woman becomes more susceptible to many respiratory infections including the coronavirus. It has also been observed that pregnant women having serious disease more frequently require ICU care as compared to non-pregnant women of reproductive age.
Some researchers also suggest that women with COVID-19 are at a higher risk for premature deliveries and their babies are more likely to be admitted in the neonatal care units.
| Also Read: Tips for Pregnancy |
What effect will Coronavirus have on your baby if you test positive for COVID-19?
It is not known for sure whether a COVID positive mother can transmit the virus to her baby or not. But an active virus has been found in the amniotic fluid (fluid surrounding the baby in the womb) or in the breast milk of women suffering from coronavirus.
If you are a suspected or a COVID-19 positive patient, your baby will be examined by neonatal specialists and it will be decided by them whether or not your baby needs to get a COVID-19 test.
Severe COVID disease in babies is rare but premature babies are more likely to have serious complications. Some symptoms to aware of in babies that might suggest towards a COVID infection include:
- Lethargy ( overly tired or inactive)
- Runny nose
- Poor feeding
- Labored breathing
- Shallow breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms in your baby, contact a doctor immediately for further evaluation.
What are the effects of Coronavirus in the first trimester?
There is still not enough research to know the exact effects of COVID-19 on the woman or her baby during the first trimester of pregnancy. But it is well known that high fever during pregnancy in the first trimester can pose a risk for birth defects in the baby.
During the first trimester or the first 3 months of the pregnancy, the organs of the bay are being formed. Infection during pregnancy, specially during the first trimester can cause pregnancy loss, miscarriage or stillbirth in women.
Hence, 1st trimester of pregnancy precautions are very important for women generally as well. But in these times, it becomes even more essential that women take proper precautions in the first month of pregnancy.
Precautions for pregnant women against Coronavirus
All these observations make it very important for all pregnant women (or women looking to get pregnant) to take extreme care during the current situation to protect themself and their baby from the ill effects of the virus.
The safety measures to be followed by the pregnant women are the same as recommended to general public and include:
- Wearing double masks and shields while going out.
- Leaving your house only when absolutely necessary.
- Practicing strict hand hygiene with frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Practicing good respiratory hygiene and coughing and sneezing only in a tissue or handkerchief (or the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue).
- Maintaining physical distance from people and maintaining social distancing in any public space.
If you suffer from any symptom related to COVID like fever, cough, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, report these to your obstetrician at the earliest because pregnant women should get timely treatment at a priority basis as they are at higher risk for developing a serious disease.
It is very important to follow all these safety protocols while visiting your doctor for check-ups. Given the COVID situation right now, your doctor might advise you for less frequent follow-ups as compared to before to reduce the risk of getting an infection. But if you have a bad obstetric history, you might need to visit regularly. So all the precautions must be taken during that time.
There is no data that suggests that women suffering from COVID-19 infection have to undergo cesarean section only. Normal deliveries are always preferred by obstetricians and cesarean section is only performed if needed. The choice of delivery method will depend on your personal situation and obstetrical history.
Various studies have shown no preliminary side effects of the COVID vaccine on pregnant women and it is safe and recommended for pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Preventing spread of COVID-19 to the baby
It is important to keep in mind that the virus can be spread from the mother to the baby while close contact like breastfeeding, etc. This does not mean that activities like breastfeeding or skin to skin contact should be avoided in such cases. All these activities are very essential for the baby and help the baby thrive better.
To prevent the spread of infection to the baby, it is important to practice hand hygiene and frequent hand washing techniques. You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby and keep all the surfaces clean. You should also follow good respiratory hygiene. Mothers having symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to wear masks every time they come in contact with their baby.
If you are pumping your breast milk, you should wash your hands before and after you touch the pumping machine.
Keeping your baby safe during this period is also very important. Take a note that it is highly inadvisable to put masks or shields on babies less than 2 years of age. This can increase the chances of suffocation or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). To protect your baby, limit the number of people who visit him/her.
How can a Gynecologist help you to fight against Covid-19 during your Pregnancy?
Having a very good communication with your gynecologist is even more important during these times. Your gynecologist should be aware of even the slightest of problems you suffer from during your pregnancy. Close monitoring of your condition and your baby’s health is essential.
It is also important that you have a gynecologist who is not only highly knowledgeable in the common issues during pregnancy, but is also up to date with all the COVID-19 treatment protocols in pregnant women. They should also be able to provide you a safe environment for discussing all your problems.
This is exactly what you get with Dr. Madhu Goel who is not only the best gynecologist in South Delhi but is also the best gynecologist for normal delivery. As mentioned above, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is an indication for a cesarean delivery and hence you should opt for natural methods as far as possible.