On the 16th March 2020 the UK’s Chief Medical Officer placed pregnant women in the vulnerable group, why did he take this decision as the evidence so far indicates pregnant women are no more likely to contract coronavirus than anyone else?
The answer is pre-caution.
What is already known is that pregnancy can alter how the body handles viral infections and in a small percentage of women it alters how the body manages severe viral infections significantly and whilst our midwives and doctors are used to dealing with this small percentage of women, worldwide evidence on the effects of coronavirus in pregnancy is still very limited so why take the risk.
A study made by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists in the UK has said that it expects the large majority of pregnant women who contract the coronavirus to experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms, and positive news from research in Australia and New Zealand suggests that there is currently no evidence to show that women who are in early pregnancy are at an increased risk of miscarriage or that the virus can be passed onto their baby.
Research has also indicated that the virus doesn’t appear to pass from mother to baby via breastfeeding but, if infected, Maternity services recommended precautions are taken such as, wearing a mask and in accordance with Government guidelines,
- thoroughly wash your hands throughout the day
- stay at home
- if possible, get food delivered
- enforce social distancing
- avoid face to face contact as much as possible
- call or use online services to contact community midwifes or GP’s
At the moment the Government consider antenatal appointments essential and advise if symptom free attending as normal. They do however suggest contacting maternity units to confirm dates and times as these may change.
If you have symptoms the advice from the NHS is to contact your community midwife to postpone any routine appointments until after the isolation period.
Technology will play an important part in the communication and exchange of information over the coming weeks for everyone including pregnant women.
Several hospitals across the UK are using Facebook groups to share the latest advice with their local communities which will help to keep everyone updated and aware. There has also been an increase in use of online GP appointments and online antenatal classes.
Remember if you think you have contracted coronavirus the Government recommend staying at home for 7 days. Their advice is to avoid contacting GP’s as only those with severe symptoms need to be tested but do contact your maternity unit to let them know.
If you are worried about your baby or your own health during self-isolation contact your midwife or out of hours, your maternity team, they will tell you what to do.
Useful information links