Pregnancy is for most women a time of bliss and excitement, but in 2020, the spread of Covid-19, may have slightly changed the context.
Written by Maria Azzurra Volpe
Since the W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) declared COVID-19 (commonly known as Coronavirus) a pandemic, reports of overwhelmed healthcare facilities around the world, have been sparking fear among the population.
This general panic has arisen in many pregnant women concerns about the course and development of their pregnancy.
But what are the actual risks of carrying a baby during this pandemic?
What is Covid-19?
For those who don’t know yet, COVID-19 is, according to the W.H.O. an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, which in most infected people, will develop into a moderate respiratory disease, while symptoms will be worse for people with existing health conditions.
Am I more at risk of infection?
According to Bahram Hassanpourfard, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, there is no evidence that pregnant women are more at risk of infection, although the NHS has included them in the clinically vulnerable people’s list, as a precaution.
“Due to hormonal changes and the immune system during pregnancy, the advice is to take maximum precaution, stay at home and contact healthcare services if developed any symptoms” adds Epidemiologist Hassanpourfard. “According to our data and a study done in New York on undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 on pregnant women, 80% of those tested positive, did not have any symptoms. This is similar to the general population.”
If I get infected, how will this affect my baby?
At the moment it is not clear how the virus might affect the foetus” says Epidemiologist Hassanpourfard “most babies born to infected moms so far have infections in the third trimester (based on data from China). We need more time to collect data on the foetal impact of mothers are infected in earlier trimesters.”
“At this point in time, we do not know if an individual who had COVID-19 will catch it again or how long the immunity to the virus would last. A study conducted in Wuhan, detected COVID-19 antibodies in 6 babies whom their mothers had the infection. Please note, this does not confirm the passive immunity of COVID-19 from mothers to babies, and more research is required.”
What should I do in case of infection?
If you think you have symptoms or you have been in contact with someone that has, you must call NHS 111.
Should I attend scans and midwife appointments?
The NHS says that, as long as you are well, it’s really important that you attend your routine appointments. If you are unwell, contact your community midwife to postpone your visits until the isolation period is over.
Should I give birth at the hospital?
According to the NHS guidance, it’s really important that you have a midwife with you when you give birth in order to keep you and your baby safe. In the case you’ve had any complications during your pregnancy the NHS advises you to give birth in a unit led by a doctor (obstetrician).
Is there any financial help from the government for pregnant women?
If you are employed, or you were until recently, there are different types of financial help available for you and your partner, such as Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance. You can check your eligibility here: https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents
If you are claiming benefits you can be entitled for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, you qualify if: you’re expecting your first child, or you’re expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already; you or your partner already get certain benefits.
You can apply here: https://www.gov.uk/sure-start-maternity-grant