Coronavirus And Pregnancy. Here’s What You Need To Know
If you are pregnant now, it’s natural that you may be feeling a particular form of stress. There are enough horror stories on television every evening about mothers-to-be forced to give birth in isolation or forced to isolate from their newborn babies.
Pregnancy is a special time in your life. It is personal and intimate, but it is also a time you want to enjoy with the ones you love. A deadly virus lurking in the background is not reassuring. For Victorians, lockdown 4 restrictions can also mean that mothers-to-be are deprived of many of the pleasurable activities that make their pregnancy special.
In Sydney, we are luckier because we have managed to stave off a second wave, but new cases reported daily make this threat real. The other day I spoke to one of our mothers who is expecting her second child. Like many young mothers, she was concerned. Her worries are not unique. They are what many mothers must be experiencing today. Common activities that we take for granted – like walking in a park, buying groceries, eating out and visiting the GP are now full of risks for mothers-to-be. Whether these risks are high or low, they are real for a mother who is worried about the health and wellbeing of her unborn child. Mothers also worry that they could pass the virus to their babies and about birth complications or abnormalities because of an infection.
To assure all our mothers-to-be, we’ve decided to list some facts about COVID-19 pregnancy facts from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Pregnant women are not at a higher risk of becoming infected by COVID-19
Most pregnant women in Australia who were infected developed mild to moderate symptoms (including headaches, cough, fever, fatigue, and loss of smell. Many make a full recovery. A small percentage have required hospitalisation.
Pregnant women are not at a higher risk of miscarriage if they become infected.
Vertical transmission (from mother to baby) is rare during pregnancy or at the birthing process.
There is no evidence to suggest that a Caesarean section or induced birth is necessary to reduce the risk of infection.
Only a small percentage of women who have become sick and were hospitalised delivered pre-term. In most cases, an early delivery was chosen as an additional precaution, not as an emergency option.
Newborn babies are not at risk of complications or abnormalities if their mothers have COVID-19.
Mothers with COVID-19 must continue with their routine check-ups including antenatal investigations, ultrasound, and maternal and fetal assessments. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your healthcare provider may require you to participate in additional scans to ensure the health and wellbeing of your baby. Special precautions will be taken if you have to visit a facility. Speak to your healthcare provider directly to find out what these measures are.
The safest place to give birth if you have contracted the virus is at the hospital. If you are going to a birth centre, please let them know about your diagnosis so they can make the necessary preparations for the birth.
Breastmilk is safe for your baby. The virus cannot be passed from you to your baby through your breastmilk.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF INFECTION WHILE PREGNANT
Being pregnant and getting COVID-19 is not ideal. Fortunately, there are preventive measures you can take to minimise the risk of being infected.
Here are some preventive measures you can take to prevent yourself from getting infected:
Practise social distancing. The safe distance is 1.5 metres or two-arms-length. If you are dining at a café or a restaurant, ensure that you have an empty table on all sides. Avoid going to crowded places and situations where you cannot social distance properly.
Wear a mask. Masks are not mandatory in NSW, but they are highly recommended. If you are in a situation where social distancing is difficult, please wear a mask. Situations like shopping for groceries, visiting the doctor or walking in a crowded park may require masks to give you an added layer of protection. The best masks to wear are single-use surgical masks. Proper handling and disposals of masks are important. Please read our article on ‘How to wear a face mask’
Avoid touching your face when you are out. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when you are outside. If you cannot avoid it, sanitise your hands first before you touch any part of your face or your mask.
Avoid people in your community or family group who are unwell.
Cancel all non-essential travel during your pregnancy to minimise the risk of infection.
Ensure your partner or family members who are living in the same household self-isolate if they are infected. Minimise your interaction with an infected person. An infected person should not be accompanying you to hospital visits.
Get tested if you have symptoms including fever, headaches, fatigue, cough, runny nose, loss of smell or taste or both.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned.
MANAGING STRESS DURING A PREGNANCY
Pregnancy is a stressful time even without a pandemic. We are dealing with changes to our bodies and very soon changes to our entire lives. Studies on pregnancy during other pandemics (like SARS, Ebola, Zika, and MERS) showed that pregnant women during these times were vulnerable about their pre-natal and post-natal care, exposure to clinical tests and infecting their babies.
Stress can be linked to several poor birth outcomes including pre-term birth, low immunity, and childhood behavioural problem. While we cannot eliminate stress, we can manage it. If we can manage our stress levels, we can prevent the negative impacts from affecting our lives and that of our newborn babies and their futures.
1. Stay connected
Family and friends play a key role in a pregnant mother’s wellbeing. In a pandemic when social distancing is necessary, face-to-face visits may not be an option so make sure you stay in touch with family and friends through technology. Choose a platform that best suits you whether it’s Messenger, Skype or Zoom. Make it a point to connect regularly with people you care about and who care for you.
2. Find a support group
There are many online mother support groups you can join. Having a group of women in a similar situation like yours can give you the support you need to survive the pandemic and deliver a healthy baby safely. Support groups are brilliant ways to make new friends, seek advice and share ideas and feelings.
3. Practise meditation and yoga
If you are expecting, meditation and yoga can help relax you. Meditation is a form of quiet time – to focus on your breathing, connect with your surroundings and to clear your mind. Yoga incorporates some form of stretching and physical exercise during meditation. Both can be extremely relaxing and calming when you are pregnant.
Here are some benefits of meditation and yoga:
Connect your mind to your changing body
Relief stress and anxiety
Gives you peace of mind
Alleviates aches and pains
Prepares you for birth
Reduces postpartum depression
Andy Puddicombe – the Founder of Headspace – has a 10-minute meditation video on TED Talks titled ‘All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.’ You can watch it on this link.
28 by Sam Wood – One of Australia’s favourite Bachelor is now a happily married dad with two gorgeous kids. The programme for expecting and new mothers was designed to help his wife, Snez, stay fit and healthy during her pregnancy. It’s a great programme to join in the safety of your home while we sit out the pandemic.
4. Resources for expecting mothers
We’ve found some amazing resources to help our expecting and new mothers. We hope you will find them useful:
New York Times ‘Can’t Sleep While Pregnant?’ Guide reveals the secrets to a good night’s sleep while our hormones are on hyperdrive. A quick read with some really useful tips.
The Bub Hub is a Brisbane-based site inspired by the birth of Brad and Hillary’s first child. It is a wonderful resource to read about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies.
Raisingchildren.net.au is an ad-free Australian parenting website where you can find all types of resources and information.
The Mayo Clinic ‘Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy’ is an authoritative guide from pregnancy experts. It is available on Amazon.
‘Nurture’ by Erica Chidi Cohen comes with recipes and exercises to take you through every month of your pregnancy. It is available on Amazon.
NSW government has a section dedicated to the top baby names for boys and girls – Just in case you are still searching…
If you would like us to write more articles on pregnancy, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, Stay Safe, Be Well. And enjoy the pregnancy!