If you are pregnant or planning to conceive during this time, you might be worried about what COVID-19 can do on you and your baby. A good way to ease your anxiety is to understand the effects of coronavirus on maternity and on a newborn.
One of the things you should know is that coronavirus easily spreads from person to person via droplets (i.e. from a cough or a sneeze). Anyone can get it—including pregnant women. Aside from inhaling the virus, you can get it by touching an object or a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
What are its symptoms?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough and high fevers. Pregnant women who get a high fever on their first trimester can put their baby at risk of particular birth defects. Stillbirth and miscarriage have also been seen in women who are pregnant and have been infected by other coronaviruses and the flu. Limited reports reveal preterm birth, but it is unclear if maternity infection has anything to do with it.
Can you pass it on to your baby?
At this time, information specific to the effects of COVID-19 on maternity is limited. Research suggests that pregnant women and non-pregnant adults may have the same risk. While it’s still not clear if you can transmit COVID-19 to your baby, newborns may become infected after birth when they catch the virus from another infected person.
So far, there hasn’t been any report of coronavirus being present in breast milk. However, if you are COVID-19 positive, the American Academy of Paediatrics suggests expressing your milk ahead of time and allowing a healthy caregiver to feed it to your child. Otherwise, wear a facemask, keep your face and nose covered, and wash your hands properly before and after handling your baby.
Should you stay home?
Yes, as much as you can. COVID-19 is acknowledged as a global pandemic and cases are increasing everywhere, including in Toronto. Local authorities are doing the best they can to prevent the spread of the virus and make sure that those who are sick receive proper care. However, it still makes sense for pregnant women to be cautious and stay home or remain in isolation to prevent getting infected, as they are currently considered high-risk individuals. That’s because a woman’s immune system is known to be slow to respond to illness when pregnant.