Novel coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus causing COVID-19. The virus originated in Hubei Province in China towards the end of 2019. As a pregnant woman the news that you were placed in a ‘vulnerable group’ by the chief medical officer on Monday 16 March may have caused you concern. At Bambino Club, we understand there is a lot of conflicting information online and so we would like to collate the evidence-based information published to date.
Pregnant women are still no more likely to contract the infection than the general population. What evidence suggests is that pregnancy in a small proportion of women can alter how your body handles severe viral infections. This is something that midwives and obstetricians have known for many years and are used to dealing with. What has driven the decisions made by officials is the need to restrict the spread of illness, because if the number of infections were to rise sharply the number of severely infected women could rise and this could put the lives of some pregnant women in danger.
The following article is provided in accordance with the latest advice by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Public Health England. Please be aware that this is very much an evolving situation and therefore readers should continue to follow Public Health England guidance if or when new information becomes available.
Current advice and guidance for pregnant women
The RCOG (2020) has published the following guidance for pregnant women:
What should I do if I have symptoms of Coronavirus?
If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, you must self isolate for 14 days therefore contact your maternity service and they will arrange the right place and time to come for your visits. You should not attend a routine clinic.
If I get coronavirus when pregnant, what is the risk to my baby?
In accordance with the latest Public Health England publications, there is currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19. Case reports from early pregnancy studies do not demonstrate a convincing relationship between infection and increased risk of miscarriage or second-trimester loss. As there is no evidence of intrauterine fetal infection with COVID-19 at present, it is currently considered unlikely that there will be congenital effects of the virus on fetal development (RCOG, 2020). There are case reports of preterm birth in women with COVID-19, but it is unclear whether the preterm birth was always a direct cause of COVID-19 or not.
Should I be following social distancing measures?
All pregnant women are advised to follow social distancing measures regardless of whether or not you are symptomatic. For full details on social distancing precautions, visit the Public Health England website.
What will happen if I get COVID-19?
If you get infected with COVID-19 you are still most likely to have no symptoms or a mild illness from which you will make a full recovery.
If you develop more severe symptoms or your recovery is delayed this may be a sign that you are developing a more significant chest infection that requires enhanced care, and Public Health England’s advice is that if you feel your symptoms are worsening or if you are not getting better you should contact your maternity care team or NHS 111 straight away for further information and advice.
Should I continue to go to my antenatal scans and appointments?
If you have a routine scan or antenatal appointment due in the coming days you should attend routine antenatal care unless you meet current stay at home guidance. This is for individuals and households of individuals with symptoms of new continuous cough or fever. In this instance, your midwife may contact you for a telephone consultation and any scans may be rescheduled for a later date.
I am due to start my antenatal classes in the next 12 weeks, should I still attend?
Unfortunately, due to government advice for social distancing for all pregnant women, the majority, if not all, antenatal classes will be cancelled. If you have any pregnancy-related questions please refer to your midwife at your next appointment. Additionally, look out for announcements on the Bambino Club website who will be providing updates and ‘catch up’ classes to ensure women and their partners still make those all-important friendships following their period of isolation.
What about home births?
If you have planned to birth your baby at home and are feeling well this plan can continue. For those who are considering a home birth, or would like to reconsider this as an option, it is best to speak to your midwife or maternity team for your individualised birth plan and to discuss pain relief options available.
For those pregnant ladies who are suspected of having, or have confirmed coronavirus, as a precaution, it is advised to attend an obstetric unit for birth. This is because your baby can be monitored using electronic fetal monitoring and your oxygen levels can also be monitored. The current guidance is that home births, or midwife-led units, are not currently recommended for women who have coronavirus.
What should I do if I have a non-covid-19 pregnancy-related problem?
If you have an urgent problem related to your pregnancy but not related to Coronavirus, get in touch with your maternity unit using the same emergency contact details you already have.
How can I get further information?
- Contact your local maternity unit
- NHS 111
- Public Health England
Article by Bambino Club
Bambino Club is one of the only antenatal classes both created and run by NHS midwives. They provide accurate information and baby first aid in relaxed settings. Learn more about their fun and interactive classes on pregnancy, birth and beyond here.