COVID-19 and pregnancy: How to minimize the infection risk for mom and baby
Pregnancy is often a happy and exciting time in the life of a woman. However, with people in a constant state of anxiety and panic over the COVID-19 pandemic, what is meant to be a time of joy and enthusiasm for many expectant mothers might feel like the opposite. Aside from being concerned about your health and the health of your family and friends, you’ll also be thinking about the baby inside of you and wondering whether you’re doing a good job at keeping him or her safe.
In this Pacific Prime Hong Kong article, we’ll take a closer look at COVID-19 and pregnancy, including how to minimize the infection risk for mom and baby.
Coronavirus pregnancy risk
When it comes to contracting the novel coronavirus, pregnant women are as at risk as anyone else. With that said, they may be more vulnerable to complications due to the infection since their body is going through many changes. Pregnant women occasionally have what is known as “altered immunity”, which can occur from anemia, hyperemesis, or gestational diabetes. Therefore, it’s important for them to take extra precautions to minimize their risk of contracting the virus.
At present, there is no evidence indicating an increased risk of miscarriage, early pregnancy, or birth defects during COVID-19. Nevertheless, it is vital for mothers to know that the infection can be transmitted to their unborn baby via the placenta. While recent evidence indicates that vertical transmission can happen, it is worth noting that what causes the unborn baby to be infected is still unclear.
Expectant mothers with the coronavirus may experience more severe symptoms as well, especially towards the end of their pregnancy, even though the risks are small. This can happen because of the changes to their immune system. Severe symptoms can include marked hypoxia, when the blood is deprived of oxygen, and pneumonia.
This is noteworthy because if a woman is in labor and cannot take in as much oxygen as usual then it might be more difficult for the baby to cope, and result in fetal distress. Despite this, you should not forego vaginal delivery for a caesarean section. Such pregnancies would be handled on a case-by-case basis by the obstetrician and infectious disease specialist who can advise accordingly.
Expectant mothers who contract the virus, particularly during the first four to six weeks of pregnancy, should be concerned about developing a high fever. A high fever, which is one of the symptoms of the coronavirus, may be harmful to the growing fetus. While it can increase the risk of problems with the baby’s brain and spine, the risk is low to begin with.
Coronavirus pregnancy advice
If you are pregnant, you should start by taking the same measures as others to protect yourself and prevent exposure. It’s important to wash your hands with water and soap throughout the day. If you go outside then you’ll want to keep your hands clean while outside and wash them again before touching anything in your house. Additionally, you should not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes unless your hands are clean.
You should also follow social distancing rules by limiting your time outdoors and avoiding any public or private gatherings with those who are not in your household. Unless you are self-isolating, you should still go to your antenatal appointments. If you feel unwell or develop coronavirus symptoms, then it is advisable to contact your doctor before deciding to avoid your appointments.
Keeping your immune system strong throughout the pregnancy, as well as after, is crucial. You can easily do this by eating healthy food, getting enough rest, and minimizing stress.
Can I breastfeed if I have the virus?
According to The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists in London, there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be passed on or even carried in breastmilk. As a matter of fact, the notable benefits of breastfeeding “outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breast milk.”
However, transmission while breastfeeding is possible in other ways. To minimize exposure to your baby, it is recommended to wash your hands prior to touching your baby, the breast pump, or milk bottles. It’s best to wear a mask while nursing and avoid sneezing or coughing as well. With that said, the best solution for feeding your baby if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus is to have someone else do it if possible.
Preparing your home for the baby
You will probably start to worry about keeping your home and the nursery clean. According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the SARS-CoV 2 virus can stay infectious on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to three days. Similarly, the virus can stay active for up to four hours on copper and 24 hours on cardboard.
Luckily, cleaning surfaces and objects, such as toys, with recommended cleaning agents should be adequate. Since recommended cleaning agents contain soap and bleaching agents, you must properly wipe down or rinse the object to get rid of any residue. Remember to clean surfaces with alcohol wipes if you have had visitors between cleaning sessions.
Once the baby is born, it is advisable to restrict visitors for a minimum of a few weeks. You also need to be selective about who comes over. While you can have some close family members visit, you should know where they have been in the past couple of weeks or days. After all, you cannot tell who might have the coronavirus since the symptoms do not show for several days.
There are several things that you should make sure visitors do before spending time with you or your baby. Visitors should:
- Wash their hands thoroughly
- Wear a protective face mask
- Avoid breathing, talking, coughing, or sneezing near your baby
- Avoid holding, kissing, or cuddling your baby
Despite these difficult times, bringing a baby into the world can still be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Taking the extra measures to keep you and your baby as healthy and safe as possible is the best you can do.
Maternity insurance in Hong Kong
Maternity insurance is a smart way to ensure any unexpected costs are covered should anything occur. But with so many options, it can be tricky to find the right pregnancy insurance in Hong Kong. Pacific Prime Hong Kong offers a wide range of comprehensive maternity health insurance plans for expectant mothers, along with medical insurance and more. Contact us today to determine which plan would best suit your needs and budget, and to get a free quote or plan comparison.
When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.
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