As the Coronavirus, (COVID-19), takes a hold of the world, health officials are still learning about its impact on pregnant women and their babies. Because this is a new virus, there have been no studies or additional trials, yet what is known is that early evidence shows that pregnant women do not become more seriously ill than anyone else and that mom-to-baby transmission of the disease is not likely, but pregnant women are among the high-risk population.
“It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in an advisory notice about the disease. “Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.”
It is recommended that pregnant women practice the same precautions as us all: wash their hands, practice social distancing, and pay close attention to any new developments to their physical well-being. In terms of actual births to women that tested COVID-19 positive, the CDC stated that there has been a small amount of reported problems such as preterm birth, but it is unknown whether or not this was due to the mother’s being infected.
“No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the CDC advisory states. “In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk. We do not know at this time if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.”
In terms of breastfeeding, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control differ as to how new infected mothers approach breastfeeding and sharing time with their newborns. The WHO states that providers should allow new mothers to remain with their newborns, practice skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeed. The CDC states that newborns and their mothers should consider temporary immediate separation.
“To reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the mother to the newborn, facilities should consider temporarily separating (e.g., separate rooms) the mother who has confirmed COVID-19 or is a PUI from her baby until the mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued.”
As studies continue to unfold, we are sure that more information is forthcoming not only for pregnant women, but for the world in general. Stay safe, continue to monitor the news for updated information, and wash your hands!