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Covid 19 and pregnancy : treatment
If you are pregnant, COVID 19 can be a source of stress and questioning. You may not know how COVID-19 can affect your baby, your health and your pregnancy follow-up.
Pregnancy and identified risks
Currently, no scientific evidence indicates that pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. However, pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk, that is, clinically vulnerable, as a precaution.
Pregnant women and COVID-19
Current medical studies lack the hindsight to affirm that pregnant women are more at risk. As this is a new virus, with a recent mutation identified, it remains safer to include pregnant women in the moderate-risk group. This is because pregnant women are sometimes more at risk for certain types of virus, such as influenza.
During the epidemic phases, some cases have shown transmission of COVID-19 to the baby, before birth, via the placenta. However, these cases remain extremely rare, and the babies’ health improved rapidly.
No evidence exists that COVID-19 causes miscarriage or affects the development of your baby during pregnancy, as was the case during outbreaks of SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV in the early 2000s.
What precautions should be taken against COVID-19?
During pregnancy, it is important to apply the recommended barrier precautions:
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Stay at home as much as possible and follow advice on social distancing, such as being at least 2 metres away from other people.
- Stay away from anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.
It is important to maintain your pregnancy monitoring. You must go to all your prenatal examinations and appointments unless otherwise advised by the medical profession.
Follow-up medical examinations
Pregnancy automatically implies regular follow-up with health professionals to avoid any medical complications for you or the foetus.
Even during the pandemic, you must follow your appointment and ultrasound schedule. However, some changes may occur.
Changes in pregnancy monitoring impacted by COVID-19
With the pandemic, medical structures have adapted how they operate to ensure patient safety:
- Some midwife appointments are online, by phone or by video call.
- You may be asked to wear a mask and gown when you are in a hospital or clinic.
- Some appointments may be cancelled or rescheduled. If an appointment is cancelled, it will automatically be rescheduled to continue your follow-up.
The father-to-be may be unable to attend all medical appointments. You should check with your midwife or health care professional.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19
If you experience COVID-19-related symptoms such as a high temperature, continuous cough, flu-like symptoms, loss or change in your sense of smell or taste,
- Stay home and isolate yourself. Those you live with should not leave your home or receive visitors.
- Anyone you have been in contact with should also self-isolate. If you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms began or during the 48 hours before they began, they should be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
- Anyone you live with and anyone you have been in contact with must also be tested.
- Talk to your midwife or maternity team – they will advise you on how to proceed. You may need to reschedule some of your pregnancy appointments or have them online, by phone or video.
If you notice other symptoms or anything else that worries you, you should always obtain medical help as you normally would, by calling the emergency room of the hospital managing your birth.
Childbirth and COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed the protocols in maternity wards during childbirth. This generates anxiety and uncertainty. Do not hesitate to discuss this with your midwife or health professional to obtain answers to your questions.
Childbirth and the presence of the birth partner
For many women, having a birth partner is important for their safety and well-being during labour and delivery.
You can have a birth partner during labour and delivery if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. They must wear a mask, gown and overshoes.
However, limits may be imposed regarding how long they can stay after the birth.
If your birth partner has symptoms, they may be unable to accompany you until their COVID-19 test results are known to your obstetrical team.
If you have COVID-19 and are in labour
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and go into labour, you will be advised to deliver in a unit run by an obstetrician with all the necessary protective measures.
You will be cared for in an area dedicated to the maternity ward and reserved for women with COVID-19.
The midwives and maternity team will wear gowns, masks and protective glasses. These are designed to ensure your safety, your health, that of your baby and that of the medical staff by preventing the spread of the infection.
Having COVID-19 should have no impact on whether you have a vaginal or caesarean birth.
Your maternity team, midwives and obstetricians, are trained in the protocols required to protect you and your baby. They are attentive and will ensure that you receive the best possible care while respecting your birth plan as much as possible.
After the birth
After the birth of your baby, you should be able to benefit from skin-to-skin contact with your child, unless your baby is sick and needs care in the neonatal unit.
You will also be encouraged to breastfeed. No evidence exists that COVID-19 is passed to your baby in breast milk, so the benefits of breastfeeding and its protective effect outweigh the risks.
In addition to enjoying this time with your newborn, maternity care will help you detect any medical problems so that you receive the care you need.
If you have contracted COVID-19, a care protocol, involving a multidisciplinary team, will be implemented to guarantee you effective and appropriate treatment.