22 Mar Coronavirus March 21 – COVID 19 & Pregnancy in Ireland
The RCOG, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has updated its guidance on pregnancy and COVID-19.
What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?
Generally, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be severely unwell than other healthy adults if they develop COVID-19. It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
More severe symptoms such as pneumonia appear to be more common in older people, those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions. As yet, there is no evidence that pregnant women who get this infection are more at risk of serious complications than any other healthy individuals.
What effect will coronavirus have on my baby if I am diagnosed with the infection?
As this is a very new virus we are just beginning to learn about it. There is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage.
There is also no evidence that the virus can pass to your baby while you are pregnant or during birth (this is called vertical transmission). Two cases of possible vertical transmission have been reported. In both cases, it remains unclear whether transmission was prior to or soon after birth. Another recent report from China of four women with coronavirus infection when they gave birth found no evidence of the infection in their newborn babies. Expert opinion is that the baby is unlikely to be exposed during pregnancy. It is also therefore considered unlikely that if you have the virus it would cause problems with the baby’s development, and none have been observed currently.
Some babies born to women with symptoms of coronavirus in China have been born prematurely. It is unclear whether coronavirus caused early labour, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early in order to preserve the mother’s health.
Why are pregnant women in a vulnerable group?
Based on the evidence we have so far, pregnant women are still no more likely to contract coronavirus than the general population. What we do know is that pregnancy in a small proportion of women can alter how your body handles severe viral infections. This is something that midwives and obstetricians have known for many years and are used to dealing with. As yet, there is no evidence that pregnant women who get this infection are more at risk of serious complications than any other healthy individuals.
What has driven the decisions made by officials to place pregnant women in the vulnerable category is caution. We know that some viral infections are worse in pregnant women. At the moment, there’s no evidence that this is the case for coronavirus infection, but the amount of evidence available is still quite limited.
What do I need to do now?
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.
If you are in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks pregnant) you should be particularly attentive to social distancing and minimising contact with others.
The RCOG update has answers to 24 common questions, all of which can be found on their website which you can access by clicking their Instagram page underneath this post.
We will inform you of updates from the HSE which will be published on their website.