Novel corona-virus or “SARS-CoV-2” is a new strain of corona-virus causing the illness, COVID-19, which was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Because it is a new illness, we are still learning about the effects it can have, and the measures we should take to avoid becoming ill.
At this stage, we know that common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop corona-virus than the general population, although because this is a new virus, how it may affect pregnant people is not yet clear.
If you are pregnant, you are more vulnerable to getting infections than a woman who is not pregnant. This is because during pregnancy, your immune system changes so that it can protect both you and your baby from disease.
Despite these protective mechanisms, you’re more prone to infections that don’t normally cause illness. During pregnancy, your immune system has to work harder since it’s supporting two. This makes you susceptible to certain infections.
In order to avoid being infected with the new corona-virus, you should practice good hygiene at all times. Good hygiene includes:
covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue disposing of tissues properly washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet using alcohol-based hand sanitisers cleaning and disinfecting surfaces if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
Pregnant women are also advised to avoid all non-essential overseas travel, as this may increase your risk of being exposed to COVID 19.
If you have concerns about the well being of yourself or your unborn baby, contact your midwife, or GP. They will provide further advice, including whether you need to attend hospital.
Although this is a new virus and there is limited evidence about pregnant women with corona-virus infection, there are no reports of women diagnosed with corona-virus in the last three months of pregnancy having passed the virus to their babies while in the womb.
At the moment there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breast milk, so it’s felt that the well-recognized benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of corona-virus through breast milk.
The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infective airborne droplets, leading to infection of the baby after birth.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby and you been diagnosed with COVID 19, the following precautions are recommended:
Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles Try and avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast; Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
Because new information is being discovered every day, you can keep up-to-date with recommendations and information from organizations which are reliable and are regularly updated. Some of these include;
Australian Department of Health
Queensland Department of Health
Department of Education (useful for those with children at school)
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists