COVID-19: Advice for Pregnant Women | Advice for pregnant women

COVID-19 And pregnancy!

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists from the UKissued this information Source : RANZCOG website.

Pregnant women do not appear to be more susceptible to the consequences of COVID-19 than the general population and there is no evidence that the virus can pass to a baby during pregnancy.

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There are currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19.

At the moment there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breastmilk, so it is felt the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

There is limited evidence about managing women with coronavirus infection in women who have just given birth; however, there are no reports of women diagnosed with coronavirus during the third trimester of pregnancy having passed the virus to their babies while in the womb.

Professor Mark Umstad, Director of Maternity Services at the Women’s, reassures women who are pregnant.

“As the impact of COVID-19 extends through our society, we want to reassure pregnant women that there is still no evidence that they are more susceptible to infection than non-pregnant women, and that there is no sign that their unborn babies can be infected,” said Professor Mark Umstad.

“The Women’s is safe place to be for women giving birth. And while there are extra precautions in place, such as screening upon entry, you will recieve the care you need when you come to our hospital.

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“Doctors, nurses, midwives and hospitals across Victoria are working together to ensure the safest possible outcomes for pregnant women and their babies during this understandably stressful period for them.”

Information on feeding your baby.

Taking advice from the World Health Organization and other breastfeeding authorities, the Women’s continues to advise women to establish and maintain breastfeeding and to promote skin-to-skin contact at birth for all women and their babies

Anita Moorhead, senior lactation consultant and clinical midwife at the Women’s, says that as with other peak times for illnesses (like the seasonal flu), mothers are encouraged to continue to breastfeed – but with careful attention to hand hygiene and how they direct their coughs and sneezes.

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“It’s important that breastfeeding mothers are paying close attention to advice on reducing your risk of coronavirus,” said Anita Moorhead.

“With current advice, if you are a suspected or confirmed that a mother has COVID 19, we would encourage you to wear a mask when feeding or expressing breast milk for your baby, have your baby in a cot about 1.5 metres away from mother when not feeding and, where possible, have someone else help with the care of the baby.

“We know that breastfeeding and providing breast milk is one of the best things to help prevent many infections for babies, so our advice at the moment remains the same: keep breastfeeding and keep up with the careful handwashing.  Know that you are caring for your baby well and we will help you to do that.”

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Formula feeding.

“Where a mother needs to use infant formula, strict hand washing and careful attention to sterilising of bottles and making of infant formula is so important,” added Anita Moorhead.

“Due to recent issues with food availability, if the infant formula that you usually use for your baby is not available, then it’s okay to use another formula.

“Make sure it is infant formula suitable for babies from birth to 12 months and to ensure careful attention to the directions on the can. Be aware alternative brands may have different size scoops in the tin and use different amounts of water.”  

Sources: World Health Organization, Australian Breastfeeding Association, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (UK) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US).

Reducing your risk.

Practice good hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry with paper towel or a hand dryer. Alcohol based hand rub is an acceptable alternative.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, and encourage others to do the same. Make sure you put the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.

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Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands.

Where possible, keep at least one metre away from people who have a respiratory illness and/or is coughing and sneezing.

Avoid shaking hands with others.

Pregnant women should be considered a vulnerable or at-risk group, however, information and advice to the general public apply equally to pregnant women.

At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population.

For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19.

There have been a handful of recent reports suggesting that the virus may pass from the mother to the baby (vertical transmission). However, this is very early, preliminary data, and has not been confirmed. There was no evidence of harm to the babies.

There is no evidence that cesarean section or induction of labor is necessary to reduce the risk of vertical transmission.

Some babies born to women with symptoms of COVID-19 have been born prematurely. It is unclear whether coronavirus caused these premature births, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early for the benefit of the mother’s health and to enable her to recover.

At the moment there is no evidence that the virus is carried in breastmilk and, therefore, the well-recognized benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19 through breastmilk.

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What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?
There is no evidence to show that pregnant women will be more severely unwell than other healthy adults if they develop coronavirus. It is expected that most pregnant women will experience mild or moderate cold or flu-like symptoms. Cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, and loss of sense of smell are other relevant symptoms.

What can I do to reduce my risk of developing coronavirus?
The most important thing you can do is to wash your hands regularly and effectively. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds.

As a precaution, you should follow government advice about social distancing, stay away from public places and avoid anyone who has symptoms suggestive of coronavirus. It is still considered necessary for pregnant women to go out for essentials, such as food shopping, exercise and to attend antenatal appointments.

If you are in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks’ pregnant) you should be particularly attentive to social distancing and minimise any contact with others.

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What if I can’t work from home?
If you can’t work from home and you work in a public-facing role, talk to your employer about what steps can be taken to minimise your exposure.

If you are in your first or second trimester (less than 28 weeks pregnant), with no underlying health conditions, you should practise social distancing but can continue to work in a public-facing role, provided the necessary precautions are taken.

If you are in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks pregnant), or have an underlying health condition – such as heart or lung disease – you should work from home where possible, avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact. Talk to your employer if you are in or approaching your third trimester.

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What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?
If you are pregnant and have either high temperature and/or a new, persistent cough, you should stay home for at least 7 days. Do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacist or hospital. You do not need to call NHS 111 to tell them that you are staying home.

You should let your midwife or maternity unit know about your symptoms, especially if you have any routine appointments in the next 7 days.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?
Practicing good hand and cough hygiene and avoiding people who have recently been overseas, if you can, are the best ways to avoid infection of COVID-19. It’s also important that everyone in your household and immediate family does the same. If you have other children, teach them about the importance of good hygiene and how and when to wash their hands.

wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (e.g. before and after eating, and after going to the toilet)
cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues and dispose of them straight away; wash your hands afterward
cough or sneeze into your (flexed) elbow
cough away from other people
stay more than 1.5 meters away from people when out in public, if possible
If you are currently working, you can ask your employer what they are doing to protect their staff. Many businesses are providing guidelines for how employees should behave in the workplace; for example, by encouraging good hygiene, limiting meetings, and giving staff the option to work from home.

You should also practice ‘social distancing’, which includes:

avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is hard to keep a reasonable distance from others (about 1.5m)
avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces
trying to keep 1.5m between you and other people where possible (for example, when out in public)
don’t shake hands, hug or kiss
stay away from vulnerable people, such as those in aged-care facilities or hospitals, babies or people with weakened immune systems
Looking after yourself in isolation
Everyone in Australia is being asked to stay at home unless you need to go out for essential reasons, like grocery shopping, medical appointments, or going to work. During this time, it’s important you still eat well and get some exercise to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

This is also a very stressful and worrying time for people and whether you are a first-time mum or already a parent, not having your usual support network around you can make it hard. Keep in touch with your family and friends through phone calls and videos and stay connected on social media with groups that can help support you during this time.

If you are struggling or need to talk to someone, there are a number of places you can go for support.

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What happens if I get COVID-19 while I am pregnant?
Women who get COVID-19 while they are pregnant are expected to experience mild to moderate symptoms, similar to having a cold or the flu. But because of the changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, your symptoms will be monitored very closely. Most women will make a full recovery without any risk to your unborn baby.

Can I pass on COVID-19 to my baby while I am pregnant?
There have been some very recent cases that may suggest COVID-19 could be passed from mother to baby (called ‘vertical transmission’). However, this is still to be confirmed and is still in the early stages of being studied. Previous experience with other respiratory illnesses suggests your baby will not be harmed or at risk of any ongoing problems.

Should I still be going to my antenatal appointments?
Having regular check-ups during your pregnancy is important to monitor the health of you and your baby. However, it is understandable that during this time you might be concerned about going to your GP or hospital. Before making any changes to your appointments, it’s important that you speak to your doctor first.

Your doctor may recommend less frequent visits if you and your baby are healthy, or they might be able to offer telehealth consultations (video call) for some of your appointments.

What should I do if I’m pregnant and recently returned from overseas?
Anyone returning to Australia from any overseas country is required to isolate for 14 days. Providing you show no symptoms of being unwell after 14 days, you are free to carry on as usual. If you do show any signs of illness, call your doctor or the hospital where you plan to have your baby. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history and follow their instructions.

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