Pregnancy is a time of mixed emotions: happiness, excitement, anticipation, nervousness. But since the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic you might also be adding anxiety and worry to the mix. If you’re pregnant during this confusing time you and your family may have a lot of questions. Here, we address some commonly raised concerns.
Are pregnant women more at risk of serious illness from COVID-19?
As this is a new disease, research about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is limited. At present however, expectant mothers do NOT appear to be more affected if they contract the virus than the general population. It is expected that the majority of pregnant women will experience only mild cold/flu like symptoms if they contract COVID-19.
Can I transmit the virus to my baby while I am pregnant?
There have been a small number of recent reports suggesting the virus may pass from mother to baby. This is early data however and has not been confirmed. Given what experts already know about other respiratory viruses combined with the research collected on COVID-19 so far, mothers should rest assured that there is no evidence that COVID-19 will harm your baby or cause abnormalities.
Should I still go to my antenatal appointments?
Having regular check-ups during your pregnancy is important to monitor the health of you and your baby. That said, you may be nervous about going to your appointments. Speak to your doctor about your concerns. You may be able to conduct some appointments via a telehealth consultation.
I’m nervous about going to hospital
It’s understandable you are nervous about going to hospital, particularly given everything that is happening. Always speak to your doctor about your concerns first, but rest assured that birthing centres and hospitals across Australia are taking extra precautions to help protect the health and safety of patients. Measures in place include reducing the numbers of visitors (partner only) and allowing new mothers to go home earlier (provided you and your baby are doing well).
Should I get a flu shot?
Yes, and pregnant women get it for free. Even though the flu vaccine won’t protect you against getting COVID-19, it’s important to do what you can to avoid getting sick. We know that pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from influenza so having a flu shot is important.
How do I protect myself and my baby against COVID-19?
Luckily, your baby has the best protection – you. Caring for your physical and mental health at this worrying time is what’s most important. Use this time of social distancing to rest, eat well, keep as active as you can and take care of yourself. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) also advises the following:
- Hand washing regularly and frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid anyone who is coughing and sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Social-distancing and reducing general community exposure
- Early reporting and investigation of symptoms.
Should I breastfeed?
At the moment, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is carried in breastmilk. The well documented benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risk of transmission.
And lastly, it’s important to reiterate that current evidence indicates the risk of COVID-19 to you and your baby is small. The Australian medical system is also well-trained, world-class and committed to providing you with quality care during this difficult time. That said, your health team understand you may be worried, so if you have questions make sure you reach out to your doctor or midwife. Below are also some informative websites you can visit for more information.
24/7 Medibank Nurse Phone Service
If you’re a Medibank member with hospital cover* you can now call 1800 644 325 to speak to a health professional for confidential support, advice or information. We’re here to help support both your physical and mental health.
*OSHC members should call the Student Health & Support Line on 1800 887 283.
For more information
Advice within this article is current as of 1 May 2020.