In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Adelaide’s Embrace Fertility understand there may be some worry and unrest, particularly with our patients who are expecting.
Dr Vijay Roach president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) has shared some advice and information for pregnant women and their families to help answer some questions they might have.
“At this time of great uncertainty with the COVID19 infection crossing the globe, pregnant women will be anxious about their own health, that of their baby and their newborn,” he says. “We understand that and that’s the purpose of this video; to provide you with information and reassurance about your health and that of your baby.”
Watch the video:
Dr Roach says the information they have to date specifies that the virus does not pass to, or harm, a baby during pregnancy.
“We know that pregnancy causes changes in a woman’s body and if an infection is acquired, this can sometimes be more severe. However, the information we have so far is that most women who acquire COVID-19 actually don’t have a more severe illness and often have very mild or no symptoms at all,” he says.
“We also know that for women who are trying to conceive or who are in early pregnancy, that the miscarriage rate is not increased. The virus does not pass to your baby and there is no evidence that it will harm the baby inside you or cause an abnormality. There is some evidence of a possible high rate of prematurity, but this could be due to doctors needing to deliver a baby early because the mother was unwell.”
You should keep attending your regular appointments and follow your pregnancy care plan, although some consultations may need to occur online or over the phone.
“During your pregnancy there is no reason why your normal care shouldn’t continue, however some visits might need to be done through Telehealth. You should also make sure you have influenza and whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy although this doesn’t impact anything to do with COVID-19,” Dr Roach says.
And when you are ready to have your baby, RANZCOG advise that the safest place to do that is in a hospital.
“There, highly trained midwives and obstetricians can care for you and if you need any additional help, all the facilities are available. When it comes to the time to birth your baby, you can do so either vaginally or by caesarean section and the usual things that happen at that time should not be influenced. You can labour in the way that you want to and you can birth in the way that you want to. The use of analgesia and the position that you’d prefer shouldn’t change at all. Sometimes special precautions might need to be made to reduce the risk of infection,” Dr Roach says.
Once your baby has been brought into the world, Dr Roach says you can breastfeed if you choose to, as the information available at the moment shows the virus is not apparent in breast milk.
“Women who want to breastfeed should be supported and encouraged to do so. There is no evidence of the virus in breast milk and therefore breastfeeding your baby is quite ok,” he says.
In the meantime, it is important that you listen to the advice coming from government and health authorities on COVID-19, and keep yourself well and safe.
“Frequent hand washing, distancing yourself from others, usually staying at home and avoiding public places or public gatherings are just generally good for you and your unborn baby,” Dr Roach says. “This is the advice that all of the public is receiving and it applies to you as much as it does anyone else.”
As well as keeping your body safe and well, Dr Roach says it’s important to keep your mental health in check as well and seek professional help should you need to.
“At a time where we’re concentrating on physical health, we need to remember pregnant women are at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. This can apply to your partner as well. Look after yourself. Be gentle to yourself. And if you have symptoms of anxiety and depression, talk to your healthcare provider and get the appropriate care,” he says.
The team at Embrace Fertility are here to see you through your pregnancy, so give us a call or send us a message if you need any help, advice or just want to check in with us.