We all have medical questions that we want answered – that’s why Dr. Amna Asif is here to provide us with her expert opinion! Every other week, she will be sharing her expert advice with us regarding a range of topics our followers are interested in learning more about. This week in Doc Talk, she answers frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy. Keep reading to find out more:
Pregnancy is a joyful time but COVID-19 has caused a lot of stress and anxiety amongst pregnant women and their families, for their own and their unborn baby’s health. The following information is to inform pregnant women of the knowledge available to us so far, through data from developed countries regarding risks to them and their babies, advice involving self-care during pregnancy and changes they need to adopt to minimise risk to their own and their unborn child’s health.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation around the world and there are a lot of aspects regarding its impact on pregnancy which will come to light with time and research. I am cognisant of the fact that studies available in developed countries may not be entirely applicable to Pakistani women, but it does give us some framework to deal with the situation at hand. This will ultimately help us to decrease the anxiety among our pregnant women. Keep reading for some FAQ’s relating to pregnancy during Covid-19:
Q: I am pregnant. Does that increase my risk of getting COVID-19?
There is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at increased risk of getting Coronavirus, but pregnant women are a vulnerable group and should follow the laid out SOPs (social distancing, face mask, hand hygiene etc) to minimise the risk of being infected.
Q: Do I have an increased risk of miscarriage with the COVID-19 infection?
There is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus infection increases your risk of having a miscarriage.
Q: If I am diagnosed with the COVID-19 infection during pregnancy, what are the risks to my baby?
The risk may include having a baby preterm (before 37 weeks). In the UK, this happened in 1 in 4 women admitted to the hospital with Coronavirus.
Q: Can I be at increased risk of getting the serious complications of COVID-19 if I am pregnant and contract the virus?
According to the evidence so far, in comparison to non-pregnant women of the same age, pregnant women do not appear to become severely ill if they develop the COVID-19 infection. Majority of pregnant women with the Covid-19 infection, develop a mild to moderate disease and recover well. International experience of COVID-19 in pregnant women however reveals that women who are ethnically Asian, may be more at risk of becoming unwell and require hospital admission. Please follow the health advice to take necessary precautions that will minimise your risk of getting the COVID-19 infection.
Q: Can I transmit the virus to my baby during pregnancy?
According to reports, the risk of vertical transmission from the mother to the baby, is possible, but uncommon. The babies who have got infected during the pregnancies have recovered well in most cases.
Q: If my baby is infected with coronavirus during the pregnancy, can it cause abnormalities in my baby?
No. Currently there is no evidence which proves that coronavirus causes abnormalities in babies during pregnancy.
Q: Do I need to have a Caesarean Section to decrease the risk of transmitting Coronavirus to my baby?
No. You do not need to have a C-Section to decrease the risk of transmission to the baby unless there are other reasons explained by your doctor to have a C-Section. For example, if hospitals and clinics need to take necessary precautions to minimise the risk of transmission amongst staff and patients.
Q: Can I still breastfeed if I am diagnosed with the COVID-19 infection?
Yes, you can. However, when the baby is fed (breastfed, expressed milk, formula) the following precautions are recommended:
- Hand-washing prior to touching the baby or bottles.
- Wearing a mask whilst feeding and holding the baby.
- Cleaning and sterilising of bottles.
Q: How can I prevent getting COVID-19?
Avoid non-essential travel and public places, practice social distancing, hand hygiene, wear face mask when outdoor and get tested for COVID-19 if you develop any symptoms.
Q: I feel anxious about COVID-19.
Pregnancy and parenting are stressful situations and the current pandemic has greatly increased the stress levels among people, leading to more anxiety, depression and domestic violence. Pregnant women should be provided necessary support and help. Please seek advice and help from your health professional if you are concerned about anything relating to your pregnancy – they can always guide you best.