COVID-19 and pregnancy

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus. The disease often involves congestion of the lungs. Pregnant women may not be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. However, they are at a higher risk of medical complications if they do get infected. If you are pregnant and you think you have COVID-19, get professional medical help as soon as possible.

Pregnant women are at high risk of COVID-19 complications compared to non-pregnant women of the same age. If you are overweight or have conditions like diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), you face even more risk of complications. Contracting the virus while pregnant also exposes you to the possibility of having a preterm birth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 during pregnancy

COVID-19's symptoms can be quite similar to the symptoms of flu and colds. You will probably have to get tested before being diagnosed as having COVID-19. The following are symptoms you  might experience if you have this disease:

‌You should call your doctor when you notice some or all of the above symptoms of coronavirus.

Factors that increase risk of complications during pregnancy

In addition to the factors mentioned before, there are other factors that may increase your risk of getting COVID-19 complications while pregnant. They include:

  • Being over 25 years of age
  • Being in a crowded area (where keeping 6 feet apart is impossible)
  • Being in an area with low vaccinations for COVID-19
  • Being in an area with many COVID-19 infected people
  • Being of a minority race or ethnicity which is facing health inequity
  • Being uninoculated

Tips to help you prevent getting COVID-19 during pregnancy

If your pregnancy is doing well without complications, there are some precautions you can take that might protect you from contracting the virus. Some of them are:

  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent infecting yourself with the virus
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Remember to dispose of the tissue into a bin and to wash your hands after
  • Ensure six feet or two meters of social distancing when in public
  • Consider having your prenatal checks virtually whenever possible, to avoid exposure in public healthcare environments. Go physically for procedures that require your actual presence, like fetal tests, blood tests, and ultrasound
  • Avoid contact with individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Work from home and hold virtual meetings whenever you can
  • Pay attention to any respiratory symptoms that might indicate you have COVID-19. If you experience any of them, consult a medical professional and get tested for the virus
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine

Possible complications of COVID-19 during pregnancy

Pregnant women with underlying conditions like hypertension and diabetes have a high chance of complications of their pregnancy from COVID-19. However, this also happens in non-pregnant women. Note that pregnant women (regardless of the age of pregnancy) are at a higher risk of admission to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) than non-pregnant women. This is because they might need more respiratory support.

COVID-19 progresses the same way in both pregnant and non-pregnant women.

There is no study to show that a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can infect their baby in the womb with the virus. However, they are more prone to giving birth prematurely compared to pregnant women without COVID-19. Other severe complications like stillbirths and newborn death are quite rare.

It is crucial that healthcare providers give pregnant women first priority and special care. Ensure that you always take precautions to prevent the spread of infection if you are pregnant. 

Every pregnant woman, with or without COVID-19, should feel she can safely deliver in a health facility. You should not avoid going to the hospital in fear of infecting others or getting infected. These health facilities take all the necessary precautions to protect women that come to give birth. 

After delivery, keep your baby safe from infections. You may do this by keeping them away from other people. Their immunity is not as developed as a grown adult's. This means an infection might have adverse effects on your baby.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/12/2021
References
SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Pregnant People."

International journal of medical Sciences: "Impact of COVID-19 on Pregnancy."

Kids Health: "Coronavirus (COVID-19): Pregnancy FAQs."

Narayana Health: "PREGNANCY DURING COVID 19: HOW CAN IT AFFECT YOU AND YOUR BABY?"

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients."

World Health Organization: "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Pregnancy and childbirth.", "Increasing understanding of the impact of COVID-19 for pregnant women and their babies."