Important Information Coronavirus and Pregnancy

COVID-19 Pregnancy and Newborns – How does coronavirus impact pregnant women and infants?

Dr Katie Stirling

Many expecting and new parents are concerned about the implications coronavirus may have on their unborn child or newborn. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) recently released important information related to pregnancy, birth and early parenting suggesting that there is no current evidence to support increased implications of coronavirus on pregnant women and newborns. However, health professionals will continue to follow precautionary measures as pregnant women and newborns fall into vulnerable categories and on the whole at this time we have limited information about coronavirus. 

Pregnancy and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (RANZCOG)  have indicated that although the full implications of COVID-19 are not yet well understood given the recency of the disease, current information suggests pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop coronavirus infection than the general population. The RANZCOG anticipate that most pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.

Conception and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For women who are currently trying to conceive, and women in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to indicate an increased risk of miscarriage with coronavirus. Importantly, there is also currently no evidence to indicate that the COVID-19 can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (known as vertical transmission). The RANZCOG also suggest that there is currently no evidence that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.

Breastfeeding and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For women who are breastfeeding the RANZCOG suggest there is currently no evidence that coronavirus is carried in breastmilk. Taking this and the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding in to consideration the RANZCOG indicate that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk. The RANZCOG suggest that women who want to breastfeed their babies should continue to be empowered and supported in breastfeeding practices. 

Minimising exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or currently breastfeeding there are a number of things you can do to minimise potential exposure to coronavirus. 

The RANZCOG indicate similar strategies as are recommended for the general public including:

Changes to your Medical Care in Pregnancy with
Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The RANZCOG indicate that a number of strategies will be used to reduce the risk to people during the perinatal period, as well as to health professionals. It is important that we all support health professionals in minimising exposure. As coronavirus unfolds demand will increase on our health services and we want to ensure they remain healthy and able to service the community.

The RANZCOG indicate these changes may include:

We understand that a number of these strategies will have implications for individuals and families who are currently pregnant. It is important you talk through the implications these changes may have on you with a loved one or health professional. If you are feeling anxious or worried about these changes you can book an appointment with a online psychologist here or if you have a psychologist you regularly see please book an appointment in with them. You can rest assured we will continue to update you on any changes and in the coming weeks we will post articles to our website and social media on how to cope with changes related to coronavirus. 

If you are Pregnant or have a Newborn and suspect Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you are pregnant or have a newborn and believe you may have coronavirus it is important that you seek medical advice. The RANZCOG have clearly indicated that early reporting and investigation of symptoms, as well as supporting prompt access to appropriate treatment and supportive measures if infection is significant is a priority. 

The RANZCOG suggest if you are pregnant:

“If you develop cold/flu symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea, fatigue, difficulty breathing) please arrange an urgent medical review (fever clinic, GP practice, Emergency Department) for consideration of COVID-19 testing. If you have any of these symptoms, or are required to self-isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should notify your healthcare provider to reschedule or delay your appointment. This will enable you to continue to receive antenatal or postnatal care and reduce the risk to other pregnant patients or health workers.”

Mental Health, Pregnancy and Parenthood 

We know that many pregnant women and their partners, as well as new parents may experience increased anxiety and decreased mood during this time. Unfortunately social distancing measures, important for all of our safety will likely increase feelings of isolation during a time when pregnant women and parents of newborns need more support. We encourage you to reach out to your friends and family via phone, skype, facetime. 

If you are experiencing anxiety or low mood we encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. Prevention and early intervention is important to your mental health, your health and your baby. 

Online Mental Health Support for Pregnant Women and New Parents 

Mental health professionals will be available and operating business as usual regardless of isolation measures implemented. If you have a psychologist that you regularly see give them a call, they will likely be able to see you from the comfort of your home (Online therapy) using video conferencing software. 

If you do not currently have a psychologist or your regular psychologist is not available we have a number of online perinatal psychologists with availability to see you immediately. They will join you from the safety and comfort of your home using (online therapy) video conferencing software very similar to how you would use facetime only it is secure, confidential and HIPAA compliant. 

You can also contact PANDA or a range of mental health help lines available 24-7. Please see our helpful contacts page for contact information and links. 

We will also continue to provide updates on our website and on our social media pages, feel free to follow us. 

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