Pregnancy, Birth, Breastfeeding and Coronavirus: Fact from Fiction

There are enormous fears around pregnant women getting coronavirus and the effect this will have on the health of their baby. I am getting many emails from my Hypnobirthing Hub mothers to be, about this very topic and it is important to separate the fact from the fiction.

It is true that pregnant women have altered immune systems, meaning they are at a higher risk for severe complications if exposed to coronavirus.

“Certainly, women who have any other health issues who are also pregnant should also be that much more vigilant,” Doctors have warned. Therefore, if you do have other health complications, extra precaution needs to be taken.

How many pregnant women currently have Coronavirus?

It isn’t doom and gloom; in America and Australia, currently there are no cases of pregnant women having coronavirus. However, the fear of contracting the virus is still very real. Therefore, it is important to practise caution, but be mindful of only a remote possibility of contracting the virus.

Are pregnant women more likely to get Coronavirus?

Pregnant women and the general population have the same susceptibility to contracting the virus as anyone else. The good news is, if healthy pregnant women have Coronavirus, they have the same likelihood of having only mild symptoms.

What evidence do we have with Coronavirus and pregnancy?

There is very little data on how coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as Covid-19, affects people who are pregnant. However, there is one report from China analysis of 147 women who either had or were suspected of having the virus, 8 percent had a severe version of the disease and 1 percent were in critical condition, according to a report published last week by the World Health Organization.

Experts cautioned against drawing any strong conclusions from this limited sample.

“It’s understandable that pregnant women would be concerned about exposure to the virus and any negative effect it could have on their health and the health of their unborn baby, however, the actual risk of contracting the virus is very low”. Dr. Christopher M. Zahn, M.D., the vice president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Can coronavirus be passed in utero to the baby?

There’s no evidence that a mother can infect her baby with the coronavirus while pregnant or that infants can be infected during birth, said Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, M.D., M.P.H., chairwoman of gynecology and obstetrics at the Emory University School of Medicine.

In a recent study published in The Lancet, researchers studied nine pregnant women who had tested positive for the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak. The team found that at the time of birth (via caesarean), all of the babies were healthy. There was no evidence of the virus in the mothers’ breast milk, cord blood or amniotic fluid.

Should I breastfeed with Coronavirus symptoms?

Even though, the virus has not been detected in breast milk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that “we do not know for certain whether mothers with Covid-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.”

At the current time, the C.D.C. is not advising women infected with the coronavirus or suspected of having it to avoid breastfeeding. Instead, the interim guidance for them is to wash their hands before touching the baby and wear a face mask, if possible, while breastfeeding.

“If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use,” the C.D.C. advises. “If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.”

Should I still go to my antenatal appointments?

It is important to weigh up the actual low risks of catching the virus with the potential real risks of your health and your baby’s welbeing. A BBC news report, stated the importance of attending antenatal appointments as normal. The Royal College of Midwives said the appointments were “essential to ensure the wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies”.

In summary, it is essential to note, that pregnant women have the same low risk of catching Coronavirus as everyone else. Even if a woman is infected with Coronavirus while pregnant, she can’t give it to her baby, nor is it thought to be transferable via breastmilk.

What is most important at this time is the stay safe physically, but mental health is just as important. I strongly suggest, listening to our free Hypnobirthing Hub pregnancy health and relaxation mp3.

Meet Kathryn Clark
As a qualified Pregnancy and Birth Counsellor, Kathryn has helped countless women overcome their crippling fears surrounding pregnancy and birth 

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