At the present time, a fair statement can be made that the COVID-19 currently is raising more questions than which definitive answers can yet be provided. With that said, there are some factors associated with pregnancy, new mothers, and infants that are gaining at least some clarity at this time. In other words, we can begin to have a reasonable discussion about what pregnant women and new mothers need to know about COVID-19. Key points of consideration are:
- Pregnant women aren’t particularly susceptible to a COVID-19 infection
- There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transferred in utero
- Infants can be infected with COVID-19 but 90% have no or only mild symptoms
- Complications can accompany delivering with a COVID-19 infection
- Mothers with COVID-19 can breastfeed
- Pregnant women need to practice basic COVID-19 safety practices
- Prepare a home once exposed to coronavirus for an infant
Pregnant Women Aren’t Particularly Susceptible to a COVID-19 Infection
Pregnancy does weaken a woman’s immune system in most cases. The diminution in the immune oftentimes is not particularly significant, but it does occur. With that noted, pregnancy doesn’t appear to make a woman especially susceptible to COVID-19. This particularly is the case when contrasted with people who have a preexisting heart or lung condition.
As is the case with nearly everything associated with COVID-19 data, research regarding the impact of this virus on pregnant women is scant. With that said, considering what is available, the rate of mild, severe, and critical cases associated with infected pregnant women appears to track closely with the general public.
This early data indicates that about 90 percent of infected pregnant women will have mild symptoms of COVID-19 or none at all. About 8 percent will experience severe symptoms, a condition that will require hospitalization. Finally, about 1 percent will need critical care.
There is Some Preliminary Evidence to Suggest that COVID-19 can be Transferred In Utero
Whether or not an unborn baby can contract COVID-19 is a bit of a muddle at this time. The best evidence suggests that it is possible. With that said, not all pregnant women with COVID-19 have infected their babies in utero.
The range of available data in regard to in utero infection is so small that no firm determination can be made at this time about this particular means of transmission. Currently, OB-GYN’s are operating under the assumption that such a transmission is possible but not certain to occur.
Infants Can Be Infected With COVID-19 but 90% Have No or Only Mild Symptoms
One of the factors associated with COVID-19 is that infants and young children nearly always have no to mild symptoms associated with an infection. Very few infected infants have needed critical care as the result of a COVID-19 infection. The bottom line is that if a newborn contracted COVID-19 in utero or contracts it shortly after birth, that baby is not likely to have anything but mild symptoms.
Complications Can Accompany Delivery With a COVID-19 Infection
As is the case any time a woman has a respiratory illness (like COVID-19) at the time of childbirth, there can be complications. This is yet another area in which research thus far has been limited. With that said, the most commonplace complications experienced during childbirth by a COVID-19 infected mother appear to be:
- Shortness breath
- Abnormal platelet tests
- Abnormal liver function tests
Mothers With COVID-19 Can Breastfeed
A woman with a COVID-19 infection technically can breastfeed. The virus cannot be transferred to an infant via breastmilk. With that said, all necessary precautions need to be followed to prevent the transfer of COVID-19 through other avenues of physical contact. Thus, while an infant cannot contract COVID-19 via breastmilk, a mother might want to wait directly breastfeeding until her own viral infection has resolved and she’s no longer contagious.
Pregnant Women Need to Practice Basic COVID-19 Safety Practices
Like all members of the population, a pregnant woman needs to follow COVID-19 safe practices to minimize her odds of contracting the virus. These include diligent hygiene and appropriate physical distancing (social distancing). A pregnant woman should also follow any and all recommendations made by her OB-GYN in regard to COVID-19 prevention and related practices.
Prepare a Home Once Exposed to Coronavirus for an Infant
A pregnant woman infected by COVID-19 may want to give serious consideration to obtaining assistance from a professional coronavirus cleaning company before bringing a newborn infant home. While living in the family home, an infected mother would have shed the virus at different locations in the residence.
Healthcare professionals do know that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects. The type of material comprising the surface or object in part dictates how long the virus can survive on a surface or object. For example, COVID-19 can survive on a metal surface longer than on something made of concrete.
In order to best protect the health of an infant (and the rest of the family) thorough coronavirus cleaning is advisable. This type of infectious disease remediation can be accomplished safely, effectively, and with the least amount of disruption to the family.