The new coronavirus outbreak seems to be spreading at an alarming pace these days, with thousands of new cases of infection being confirmed daily. It was recently declared a pandemic, having infected over 150 countries with some experts expecting it to infect as many as 40 to 70% of the whole world’s population. And by all indication, this is only the beginning. Unfortunately, unless a vaccine becomes available within the next few months, many of us are very likely to contract this infection at some point this year.
Given these grim statistics, if you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant, you’re probably also wondering how the coronavirus infection may affect your health and the safety of your baby.
Coronavirus And Pregnancy
Here’s what we know so far about coronavirus infection during pregnancy:
• A small study on 15 pregnant women in their third trimester who were infected with the new coronavirus showed no transmission of the virus to the unborn baby via maternal circulation. No coronavirus was detected in the amniotic fluid of either pregnant woman. Also, there were no additional complications for most of the mothers (apart from one who had to be mechanically ventilated but eventually recovered) and all the babies who were born during the study were healthy.
• There is yet no sufficient data on acquiring coronavirus during the first and second trimesters, although we would expect the virus not to reach or directly affect the embryo (as proven by the third trimester studied cases). However, we know that any kind of fever during the first trimester - whether triggered by coronavirus or some other infection - can be associated with a slightly increased risk of birth defects and also of spontaneous abortion. This is why any fever that exceeds 100F (measured orally) should be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and the fever exceeds 102 you need to seek medical attention immediately to help you lower your temperature and treat any infection that you may have.
• A larger study that included 147 pregnant women, resulted in the following outcomes: of 64 women that were confirmed to have coronavirus, only 8% had severe symptoms and 1% were critically ill. This suggests no elevated risk for pregnant women when compared to the non-pregnant population of the same age that contracted the same disease. Therefore, despite normal concerns about the immune system possibly being less effective during pregnancy, there appears to be no obvious difference between pregnant and non-pregnant women regarding the severity of the symptoms during infection with coronavirus.
• Complications rates as well as mortality rates are low in the fertile age group (18-45). Also there are no death reports to date for any children under the age of 10 who became infected with the new coronavirus, including newborns, babies, toddlers and small children.
How To Protect Yourself From Coronavirus
Here’s what can you do to prevent and minimize the risk of coronavirus infection during pregnancy and its associated risks:
• Reduce unnecessary contact with other people and try to keep a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between you and other people you encounter when doing shopping or run errands.
• Avoid crowds and take relaxing walks in nature instead.
• As much as possible try to use private transportation methods instead of public transport, such as personal car or car sharing / taxi services (you can require the driver to use a surgical mask and it’s preferable that you use one well while riding with someone else).
• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds each time, especially after being outside or manipulating objects that you also used while being outside your home.
• Avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, nose before thoroughly washing your hands with soap and/or applying alcohol-based sanitizer.
• Regularly clean your mobile phone, wallet, house keys and car keys with an alcohol-based sanitizer, as well as any other object you use often.
• If you develop symptoms like fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath, please isolate yourself from other people and contact your doctor or OB-GYN for further instructions.
• Do not panic. Chances are that you and your baby will be just fine, as long as you take the necessary precautions, stay in touch with your doctor and get the help you require in case you actually contract coronavirus or another viral infection.
Stay safe and for any information on pregnancy and coronavirus, please contact your physician or OB-GYN. For additional fertility and pregnancy support, I am offering online fertility and pregnancy advice, consultations and coaching.