Pregnancy & childbirth

Resource: WHO (Questions 1 to 9)

Is the chance that I get COVID higher because I’m pregnant?

From what we know today, the risk of getting COVID-19 are the same as for any other person. We do not know for sure whether the risk of getting severe disease is more. Pregnant women should take precautions to prevent themselves from getting infected with COVID 19.

How do I prevent COVID-19 when pregnant?

You must take the same precautions as other people.

Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol- based sanitizer.
Avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean surfaces that you touch everyday with disinfectant.
Avoid people who have fever and cough or sore throat or may have been exposed to the virus.
Avoid crowded spaces like markets, weddings, bus stops, meetings etc.
Keep at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others.
Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.

If you have fever, sore throat, cough, difficulty in breathing or any such symptoms, call your doctor and discuss. If advised by them, go to a hospital and see the doctor. Talk to your doctor about how to attend your routine appointments safely.

When should I get tested for COVID 19?

It depends upon the place where you live. if you live in an area that is highly infected with COVID 19 you should be tested If you are exposed to COVID 19 patients, then you should be tested If you have symptoms of fever, cough, head ache, body pain, sore throat and breathlessness you should be tested. If you are positive, you need medical care.

Will I have to deliver by caesarean section? 

No. If you have COVID 19 alone doesn’t mean that you need caesarean section The mode of delivery is based on many other factors and the obstetrician will guide you Can I breastfeed my baby if I am sick? Yes. But you need to follow certain rules Cover your nose and mouth with bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze Wear your mask during feeding. Wash your hands before and after touching your baby Clean and disinfect the surface you touch.

Will my baby get infected from me with COVID-19 either before or during birth?Umbilical-newborn

 We do not know this for sure yet. Till date, it has not been confirmed in any woman that the virus reached the unborn baby in her womb. A few babies tested positive for the virus after birth but it is not known whether they got the infection before or after birth. However, once the baby is born, they may get the virus from any other person including the mother.

What kind of care is needed during pregnancy for this COVID-19 pandemic?

All pregnant women should receive good quality care during pregnancy and child birth. She should be encouraged to attend routine antenatal visits and these can be carried out in the safest possible way after discussion between the woman and her doctor. Monitoring of the well-being of the mother and foetus should be done carefully at each visit. A hospital with facilities for good care for the newborn should be chosen for delivery. Psychological support should be available to the woman throughout pregnancy and after delivery.

Should I keep my new born baby near me if I have COVID-19?

 Yes, close contact and starting breastfeeding early contributes to the good health of the baby. You should breastfeed your baby safely, while maintain good hygiene practices. Wash your hands well before holding your baby. Don’t cough near the baby and cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bent of your elbow. Avoid touching the baby with your face if you are sick. You should wear a mask to feed the baby if you have been confirmed to have COVID-19. Wash your hands before feeding the baby.

What can be done if I am too sick to breastfeed my baby directly?

You can express breast milk that can be given to your baby. Ask someone who is not sick to help feed the baby. Breast milk substitutes or artificial feeds can be used temporarily, till you feel better enough to express milk. You should also seek psychological support when you need.

What is the risk of infection in pregnant women and neonates?

There is limited scientific evidence on the severity of illness in pregnant women after COVID-19 infection. It seems that pregnant women appear to experience similar manifestations as non-pregnant women who have progressed to COVID-19 pneumonia and to date (as of 25 March, 2020), there have been no maternal deaths, no pregnancy losses and one stillbirth reported. No current evidence suggests that infection with COVID-19 during pregnancy has a negative effect on the foetus. At present, there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy and only one confirmed COVID-19 neonatal case has been reported to date. ECDC will continue to monitor the emerging scientific literature on this question, and suggests that all pregnant women follow the same general precautions for the prevention of COVID-19. This will include regular handwashing, avoiding individuals who are sick, and self-isolating in case of any symptoms, while consulting a healthcare provider by telephone for advice.