Because so little is known about the new coronavirus, health experts remain cautious about the advice they give to pregnant women.
The World Health Organization previously said that there was no evidence that pregnant women were at higher risk for serious illness than the general population.
However, due to changes in their body and immune system, pregnant women can be severely affected by certain respiratory infections – this is why they should take precautions against Covid-19 and report any symptoms to their health care provider. .
The WHO has recommended that pregnant women with symptoms of coronavirus be given priority for testing.
Public Health England advises pregnant women to strictly follow social distancing measures in place, such as avoiding non-essential travel, meetings with people outside their homes, or those with symptoms of Covid-19 – and the working from home if possible.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said third-trimester women – more than 28 weeks pregnant – “should be especially attentive to social distancing and minimize contact with others.”
Women with underlying health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, may be sicker if they develop the virus, according to the NHS.
Pregnant women who develop symptoms of Covid-19, like other members of the public, are advised to self-isolate.
It is not yet clear whether an expectant mother who has contracted the coronavirus can transmit it to her unborn child in the womb or during childbirth.
The RCOG says that “in all the reported cases of newborns developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the baby was fine” – and the virus is unlikely to cause problems in infant development.
According to the RCOG, no previous coronavirus infection has caused fetal abnormalities.
Due to the limited data available for this new coronavirus, health experts are continually reviewing the advice given to pregnant women – and, in general, building on previous reports and data to create an image of the risks associated with the virus.
According to the RCOG, women with Covid-19 can breastfeed – but should take precautions such as trying to avoid coughing or sneezing on the baby and consider wearing a face mask.
The WHO advises women who suffer too badly from breastfeeding their babies because of the coronavirus to use alternative arrangements – such as expressing milk, relactation, or donor breast milk.
A small number of premature births have been reported in babies born to women with symptoms of Covid-19 in China.
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However, it is unclear whether these babies were induced early due to their mother’s illness or whether Covid-19 led to premature birth, reports Full Fact.
The RCOG says there is no evidence showing that the new coronavirus can spread from mother to baby via breast milk.
Other respiratory infections, such as the flu, are associated with a higher risk of serious illness in pregnant women.