If you are pregnant, you must be concerned about how COVID-19 can affect you and your baby. Since COVID-19 is still a new disease. It isn’t fully known how COVID-19 affects pregnant women and their developing babies. Here is everything you need to know about coronavirus if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the name given to a family of viruses that can circulate in both animals as well as humans and cause various conditions such as common cold and more severe respiratory complications. In 2019, a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 surfaced in humans. How the virus originated or spread isn’t clear yet but it is suspected that it may have transferred into humans via contact with an animal. SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19, a respiratory disease.
Are pregnant women more at risk for COVID-19?
Since the virus and the disease haven’t extensively been studied yet, it cannot be said for sure whether pregnant women are more susceptible to the virus and the disease. However, since the immunity of pregnant women is compromised, they are susceptible to all kinds of respiratory infections, not just COVID-19. Also, the risk for severe illness and death increases with COVID-19 during pregnancy. Hence, they might require intensive care as compared to those who aren’t pregnant. The risk of premature birth and C-section delivery also increases in pregnant women with COVID-19.
Symptoms if gets attacked
The symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Pregnant women need to be aware of the following symptoms –
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain or ache
- Loss of taste and smell
- Sore throat
If you are pregnant and experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should consult your doctor for further steps. You might also need to get tested for COVID-19.
Precautions to take
To avoid COVID-19, pregnant women should take the following precautions –
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water whenever possible. If not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wear a mask and maintain a distance of 6 ft whenever in public.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue whenever possible and throw it immediately.
- To maintain your immunity, keep taking vitamins and zinc. Follow a healthy diet and get adequate rest along with moderate exercise.
- Limit in-person interaction with people whom you don’t live with or who might have been exposed or infected with COVID-19. Avoid crowded places whenever possible.
- Avoid going to places that are poorly ventilated.
- Make sure to disinfect surfaces and things that you touch often with spray sanitizers or detergents.
Effects on fetus/Baby
So far, it seems unlikely that the virus can pass to a woman’s baby during pregnancy or childbirth if she has contracted COVID-19. The disease mainly spreads through droplets such as coughs and sneezes. Hence, a baby could only be exposed to such droplets after birth. However, newborns can have COVID-19 after birth but it isn’t known if they caught the virus, before, during, or after delivery. In most cases, newborns with COVID-19 have mild to no symptoms and have fully recovered. There have been very few cases of severe illness in newborns. To date, as per research, the virus hasn’t been found in amniotic fluid when a pregnant woman has COVID-19.
Is C-section required if a pregnant woman has COVID-19 at the time of delivery?
A pregnant woman who has COVID-19 at the time of delivery doesn’t necessarily need a caesarean section. It depends on various other factors and not just whether she has COVID-19 or not. If you are eligible for vaginal delivery, it is favorable since your body is already weakened with a serious virus and it might cause additional complications.
Can the virus be passed through breast milk?
According to a few studies, the new coronavirus doesn’t appear to be passed through breast milk. Although, more research is required before it can be definitely said that there isn’t any risk. If you are a new mom and want to breastfeed your newborn, you can limit your baby’s exposure to the virus by wearing a face mask while feeding and washing your hands thoroughly before touching your baby.
Home isolation techniques
If a pregnant woman has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild or no symptoms, she can isolate herself at home. They should follow these steps –
- Maintain regular water intake and stay hydrated throughout the day. Water intake is necessary to flush out toxins.
- Food intake should include adequate amounts of protein, fiber and fat. Foods that are rich in antioxidants such as turmeric should be consumed. However, first, consult your doctor regarding the same as this depends on which trimester of pregnancy you are in.
- Continue taking your multivitamins with Zn to ensure increased immunity.
- Avoid overeating.
- Consume water-bearing fruits and vegetables.
- If your oxygen saturation level is normal, engage in mild to moderate exercise.
- You can consult your doctor through phone calls or video calls while isolating at home.
- There is no need to rush to get hospitalized if you test positive for COVID-19. Most cases are mild and can be treated at home.
- Keep checking your temperature every 4 hours and your oxygen saturation level every 6 hours.
- If you have a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you can take paracetamol.
When to get admitted to the hospital?
If you have contracted the virus, your temperature isn’t subsiding even after taking paracetamol for four days and your oxygen level goes below 94, you must consult your doctor. If you also observe your nails turning blue and severe chest pain, you might need to get admitted to the hospital. The most important is oxygen saturation levels. Hence, if a problem is observed in that, immediate medical attention is required, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy, as breathing is already compromised.
It is natural to get worried about you and your developing baby during these unprecedented times. The best you can do is to take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your baby from the new coronavirus. If you have tested positive for the virus, don’t panic. Consult your doctor and follow their guidelines for treatment and recovery from COVID-19. In most cases, you can isolate yourself at home and continue your treatment.