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COVID-19 in Pregnancy and Newborn Feeding – What do you need to know?

Uncategorized Mar 28, 2020

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a ‘novel’ type of coronavirus that is newly infecting humans around the globe. It is a strain of coronavirus originally found in animals, and because it has just newly infected humans, we have no immunity to it hence the rapid increase in cases both initially in China where it originated and now around the world.


Are pregnant women at higher risk of contracting COVID-19?

From the current base of knowledge we have about COVID-19 and pregnancy pregnant women do NOT appear to be more susceptible.


What symptoms would I show if I had COVID-19?

Pregnant women would present the same as non-pregnant women if infected with COVID-19. This includes fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and headache. Symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, and sore muscles are less common.


Will my baby get infected if I get COVID-19 while pregnant?

From all the information we have at present there is NO evidence of the baby being exposed to the virus in-utero.


Am I more likely to get more seriously unwell if I get COVID-19 while I am pregnant?

Current evidence tells us that pregnant women do NOT seem to get more severe illness than women who are not pregnant.


Are there any risks to my pregnancy if I get COVID-19?

Because the virus is so new we are still learning about what complications we may see in pregnancy. So far we think there are a few increased rate of pre-term birth (baby being born before 37 weeks) and pre-labour rupture of membranes.


If I have COVID-19 can I still breastfeed my baby?

We absolutely recommend breastfeeding. There is no evidence of the virus being present in the breastmilk and previous studies with other strains of coronavirus have found maternal antibodies to coronavirus present in breastmilk. We would recommend wearing a mask and practicing diligent hand washing while breastfeeding.



 Will anything change at the hospital?

We will continue to provide support and care for our patients in labour as usual. Every hospital will have made their own policies. At Island Health, we are working diligently to protect the health of our patients and employees. A few changes you will notice are as follows:

  • You are still invited to have a support person in labour, but we ask that only one individual join you and this will be the same person who supports you in labour as well as after the baby is born on the Mother Babe Unit.
  • As of the publication date of this information, booked caesarean sections are still progressing as usual. Nitrous Oxide (Entonox) is currently not available as a pain management option as it increases the risk of the virus becoming airborne (aerosolization). Additionally, we are recommending for early epidural to reduce the risk of requiring a breathing tube during emergency caesarean section.


Is there an increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects if I get COVID-19 while I am pregnant?

 Again, though the literature is limited, currently there is no evidence to suggest that women are at higher risk of either miscarriage or birth defects than their general risk based on age or personal histories.


Should I delay trying to conceive during the COVID-19 outbreak?

This is a discussion you should have with your care provider. The concerns about an early pregnancy during the COVID-19 outbreak include the possibility of miscarriage requiring medical management which could be more difficult to access as hospitals may become overwhelmed with managing patients with COVID-19 illness. The Canadian Fertility society has recommended postponing all IVF cycles and other procedures until further notice.


If you want more information, please have a look at the reliable resources! Stay well and stay safe. 





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