Pregnancy and COVID-19: What are the risks you should know?

If you are pregnant, you were pregnant in the last 42 days (recently pregnant) or you are breastfeeding, you might have questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. You may concern about the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on you and your baby.

Covid-19 Risks during pregnancy

The study shows that the overall risk of COVID-19 to pregnant women is low. However, women who are pregnant or were recently pregnant might need to be hospitalized, intensive care or be placed on a ventilator to help with breathing. Pregnant women with COVID-19 are also more likely to have a premature birth or deliver a baby before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy and might be at increased risk of pregnancy loss.

Pregnant women who have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, also might be at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are also more likely to have a premature birth and cesarean delivery, and babies are more likely to be admitted to a neonatal unit.

Contact your health care provider if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, also suggested that you get tested for the COVID-19 virus. your treatment will be aimed at relieving symptoms and may include getting plenty of fluids and rest, as well as using medication to reduce fever, relieve pain or lessen coughing. If you face severe problems, you may need to be treated in the hospital.

Severe illness means that a person infected with COVID-19 may need:

  • Hospitalization
  • Intensive care
  • A ventilator or special equipment to help them breathe

Factors that can increase risk

Other factors can also increase the risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19 during or recently after pregnancy, such as:

Pregnancy and Covid-19: Labor and delivery recommendations

If you are scheduled for labour induction or a C-section, you and your support person might be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before you arrive at the hospital and screened again before entering the labour and delivery unit. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, your induction or C-section might be rescheduled.

To protect yourself and your baby limit the number of people you have in the room during labour and delivery. During your hospitalization, both you and your support person might be screened for symptoms every day.

If you COVID-19 positive or are waiting for test results, it’s recommended during hospitalization after childbirth that you wear a cloth face mask and have clean hands when caring for your newborn. Keeping your newborn’s crib by your bed while you are in the hospital is OK, but suggested that you maintain a reasonable distance from your baby when possible. When these measures are taken, the risk of a newborn becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus is very low.

However, if you are severely ill with COVID-19, you might need to be temporarily separated from the baby.

Covid-19 Impact on prenatal care

Consult with your doctor about precautions that will be taken to protect you or whether virtual prenatal care is an option for you. Ask your doctor if any tools might be helpful to have at home, such as a blood pressure monitor. To make the most virtual visits, prepare a list of questions ahead of time and take detailed notes. Also, consider researching for online childbirth classes.

If you have any high-risk conditions during pregnancy, virtual visits might not be a good option. Consult with your doctor and ask about how your care might be affected.

Covid-19 and Postpartum guidance

Ask your doctor about virtual visit options for checking in after delivery, as well as your need for an office visit.

During this stressful time pay attention to your mental health. Reach out to family and friends for support while taking essential precautions to reduce your risk of infection with the COVID-19 virus.

If you feel severe mood swings, loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue and lack of joy in life after childbirth, you might have postpartum depression. Contact your doctor if you think you might be depressed, especially if your symptoms don’t fade on their own.

Covid-19 and Breastfeeding considerations

Research shows that breast milk isn’t likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to babies. But the bigger concern is whether an infected mother can transmit the Cobid-19 virus to the baby through respiratory droplets during breastfeeding.

If you have COVID-19, wash your hands before breastfeeding and wear a face mask during breastfeeding and whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby. If you’re pumping breast milk, wash your hands properly before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning.

COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you must get a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness. COVID-19 vaccination can also help pregnant women build antibodies that might protect their babies.

COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause infection with the COVID-19 virus to pregnant women or their babies. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contains the live virus that causes COVID-19.

While further research is needed, early study shows that getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy poses no serious risks for pregnant women or their babies. These findings are based on data from the CDC’s coronavirus vaccine safety monitoring system. Also, keep in mind that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines don’t alter DNA or cause genetic changes.

In addition, vaccines that use the same viral vector as the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have been given to pregnant women in each trimester of pregnancy in clinical trials. No harmful effects were found.

It’s recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are trying to get pregnant or might become pregnant in the future. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause any kind of fertility issues.

If you become pregnant after receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s recommended that you get your second shot. Pregnant women may also receive a COVID-19 booster shot. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Safety measures that you can do

If you haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, take these steps to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms and maintain a distance of 6 feet between yourself and others and wear a face mask. Wash your hands properly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you’re having trouble managing stress or anxiety, talk to your doctor or a mental health counsellor about coping strategies.

Important Ways to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Stay 6 feet apart from other
  • Wash your hand with soap and water or use a sanitiser
  • Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces

References

  1. COVID-19: Breastfeeding, and caring for newborns. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html#caring-for-newborns. Accessed Aug. 12, 2021.
  2. Rasmussen SA, et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and pregnancy: What obstetricians need to know. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2020; doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2020.02.017.
  3. Pregnancy and COVID-19: What are the risks? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/pregnancy-and-covid-19/art-20482639
  4. Schwartz DA. An analysis of 38 pregnant women with COVID-19, their newborn infants, and maternal-fetal transmission of SARS-CoV-2: Maternal coronavirus infections and pregnancy outcomes. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2020; doi:10.5858/arpa.2020-0901-SA.
  5. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019): How to protect yourself. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html. Accessed March 23, 2020.
  6. Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19): Practice advisory. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2020/03/novel-coronavirus-2019. Accessed Aug. 12, 2021.
  7. COVID-19: Considerations for inpatient obstetric healthcare settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/inpatient-obstetric-healthcare-guidance.html. Accessed Aug. 12, 2021.
  8. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019): People with certain medical conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Accessed Feb. 5, 2021.
  9. Mbaeyi S. Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Clinical considerations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2020-12/slides-12-12/COVID-03-Mbaeyi.pdf. Accessed Dec. 21, 2020.
  10. Choosing safer activities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  11. When you’ve been fully vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html. Accessed May 14, 2021.
  12. COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html. Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  13. Pregnant and recently pregnant people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnant-people.html. Accessed Aug. 12, 2021.
  14. COVID-19 vaccines for people who would like to have a baby. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/planning-for-pregnancy.html. Accessed Nov. 12, 2021.
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