Pregnancy and COVID-19

Pregnancy and COVID-19

What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?

Pregnant women do not appear to be more predisposed to the consequences of coronavirus than the general population. However, as this is a new virus, the long-term affect is still uncertain. It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.

There are no reported deaths of pregnant women from coronavirus at the moment. If you are pregnant you are more vulnerable to getting infections than a woman who is not pregnant. It is important to note that if you do have an underlying heart or lung condition, such as asthma, you may be more unwell if you have coronavirus.

If I am diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, what impact will it have on my baby?

At present, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage or that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (this is called vertical transmission). It is therefore considered unlikely that if you have the virus it will cause abnormalities in your baby.

What can I do to reduce my risk of catching coronavirus?

The most important thing to do is to wash your hands regularly and effectively. Please follow guidance on relevant sections of covid.gi .

How will I be tested for coronavirus?

The process for diagnosing coronavirus infection is changing rapidly. If you need a test for coronavirus, you will be advised to self-isolate and diagnostic swabs will be arranged. Currently, the test involves swabs being taken from your mouth and nose.

What should I do if I test positive for coronavirus?

If you test positive for coronavirus, you should contact your midwife or antenatal team and inform them of your diagnosis. If you have no symptoms, or mild symptoms, you will be advised to recover at home. If you have more severe symptoms, you may be treated in a hospital setting.

What happens if I am asked to self-isolate?

You may be advised to self-isolate if you have:

  • come into contact with someone who has coronavirus
  • visited a particular area or country with a high-risk of coronavirus
  • symptoms suggestive of coronavirus and are waiting to be tested, or for your results
  • tested positive for coronavirus and been advised to recover at home

Pregnant women who have been advised to self-isolate should stay indoors and avoid contact with others for 14 days.

Can I still attend my antenatal appointments if I am in self-isolation?

You should contact your midwife or antenatal clinic to inform them that you are currently in self-isolation for possible/confirmed coronavirus and request advice on attending routine antenatal appointments.

It is likely that routine antenatal appointments will be delayed until isolation ends. If your midwife or doctor advises that your appointment cannot wait, the necessary arrangements will be made for you to be seen.

What do I do if I feel unwell or I’m worried about my baby during self-isolation?

Pregnant women are advised not to attend maternity units or A&E unless in need of urgent pregnancy or medical care.

If you have concerns about your own wellbeing or that of your unborn baby during your self-isolation period, please contact your maternity team for advice.

Will being in self-isolation affect how I give birth?

There is currently no evidence to suggest how you have chosen to give birth. However, if your respiratory condition (breathing) suggested that urgent delivery would be needed, a Caesarean birth may be recommended.

Your maternity team will discuss all the pain-relief options with you in early labour.

Could I pass coronavirus to my baby?

As this is a new virus, there is little evidence about managing women with coronavirus infection in women who have just given birth; currently, 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.

Will my baby be tested for coronavirus?

If you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus at the time your baby is born, your baby will be tested for coronavirus.

Will I be able to breastfeed my baby?

Currently, there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breastmilk;  it is felt that the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you pass on infective airborne droplets, leading to infection of the baby after birth.

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the following precautions are recommended:

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
  • Wear a face-mask for feeding at the breast
  • Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
  • Consider asking someone who is well to feed expressed breast milk to your baby.

If you choose to feed your baby with formula or expressed milk, it is recommend that you follow strict adherence to sterilisation guidelines. If you are expressing breast milk in hospital, a dedicated breast pump should be used.

More information here.