Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Pregnancy | What Steps to Take?

Who would have thought that by March 2020 we would be spending our days locked in and hoping that the number of 'Coronavirus' cases reduces dramatically overnight? Well although it's a very scary time, we have the right steps for you to take in order to stay safe. 

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19, most commonly known as the Coronavirus, is an infectious disease that was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan. This disease has spread rapidly all over the world and has even caused a global pandemic as of March 2020. This is a disease that can come to light in the presence of a new and continuous cough alongside a high temperature. Many people have felt nothing more than the flu but for others - they're not so lucky. The virus has taken the lives of those who have contracted the virus whilst suffering from underlying health issues. Whilst the number of confirmed cases has been doubling and tripling each day, the government has been putting strict measures in place in order to slow down the spread of the virus. The death rate is increasing but with the new lockdown feature, the government has put in place to prevent the spread and hopefully cause the number of confirmed cases to decrease. As a community, it is believed we can beat this virus and be back to normal life in no time. They are currently trying to adapt a vaccine for this virus with the new in-depth research that is going into this. 

Coronavirus

What symptoms should I look out for?

As this is a new virus the symptoms are being discovered daily and will be updated if and when they change. You should be making sure to keep checking for any new symptoms so you can make the relevant changes to your lifestyle if you notice anything different about your health. The two symptoms which are considered key to detecting if you have the virus are as follows; 

  • A new and continuous cough, 
  • A high temperature. 

When they say new and continuous cough, this means a cough that lasts for more than an hour or having 3 or more coughing fits with the space of a 24hr period. With a high temperature, you don’t require a thermometer, you should feel your chest and back and if you feel hot to touch - this means you have a high temperature. 

Other symptoms people are being told to keep an eye out for are any from the following;

  • Muscle pain, 
  • Diarrhea, 
  • Sore throat, 
  • Loss of smell or taste. 

While the majority of cases are related to only mild symptoms, some can lead to pneumonia and can be fatal. Especially for those who are considered high risk

Who sits in the high-risk category?

With every illness, there is a group of people who are considered high risk who should be taking extra precautionary actions in order to avoid contracting the virus. Below is a list of the individuals who are considered high risk by the government;

  • Had an organ transplant, 
  • Had or are having certain types of cancer treatment, 
  • Have a condition which affects your immune system, 
  • Have blood or bone marrow cancer, 
  • Have a severe lung condition, 
  • Are taking medications making you vulnerable to infections, 
  • Have a serious heart condition, 
  • Are pregnant. 

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How Can Covid-19 Affect Me During my Pregnancy?

During your pregnancy, you will be considered high risk and should be self-isolating. As this virus is fairly new and is still being looked into there are no significant results that are released about the effects it has on you as a pregnant woman. Generally speaking, it is not showing that pregnant women are any more likely to become severely ill more than any other healthy individual.

The severe pneumonia symptoms that have been thrown about and scaring many people are more likely to be experienced by the elderly or anyone with an underlying health condition. However, this does not go to say that if you’re perfectly healthy you will not experience severe symptoms, it’s just saying that you’re unlikely to at this moment with the information they have surrounding the Coronavirus. 

Can the Coronavirus Affect my Unborn Baby if I Have the Virus?

Due to the virus being new and many people being uneducated on the effects it has on individuals, we’re unable to confirm if this has any link to miscarriage, development problems or premature labour. There have been two cases in which there is a possibility that vertical transmission (passing a virus to your baby during pregnancy or labour) has taken place but it is not yet confirmed if this was during pregnancy, labour or shortly after labour. 

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What Should I Do If I Have Any Symptoms?

It’s very important that you take the correct steps when dealing with suspected Coronavirus. You should use the NHS 111 online service in order to make the right decision to protect you and your baby. You should self isolate for 7 days since you begin with any symptoms and stay away from any vulnerable family members. The others in your household should then also self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus. Currently, they are only testing the patients who are being hospitalised for a 24 hour period or longer. You won’t be tested if you’re only experiencing minor symptoms and are being told to self-isolate. 

What Should I Do If I Work in a Public-Facing Role?

You are being advised to take the cautious steps laid out by the government depending on the stage of pregnancy you’re currently in. 

Before 28 weeks pregnant and no underlying health conditions;

You can continue to work in a public-facing job role as long as your pregnancy has had no implications, you have no health issues and are currently in your first or second trimester. You should still be practicing social distancing and reducing the amount of contact you have with the public. 

28+ weeks pregnant or have an underlying health condition;

You’re now being advised to avoid patient/public contact and to try to work from home where necessary. Everybody has different circumstances and these can be discussed with your healthcare professional. Your employer should support your decisions and put other methods of work in place during this time. 

During this lockdown period, you should only be leaving the house for compulsory work, shopping for essentials and your 1-hour allowance of exercise a day. Heading out for a walk or light jog can be beneficial to your mental health during this time. 

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How Can I Reduce my Risk of Catching the Coronavirus?

The one-piece advice we can provide is to keep up-to-date with the government guidance and stick to the rules they’re putting in place. The rules in place for pregnant women currently are as follows; 

  • Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds, 
  • Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing, discard the tissue and wash your hands, 
  • Work from home, where possible, 
  • Avoid non-essential travel using public transport, 
  • Avoid gatherings of people, 
  • Avoid people visiting your house, keep in touch in other ways, 
  • Use telephone or online healthcare advice, don’t attend the doctors or hospital unless told otherwise. 
  • Sanitise regularly and make sure you’re wiping down anything that you touch, 
  • If working with the public your employer should be able to provide you with the correct protective gear, e.g. gloves, mask, apron and hand sanitiser. 

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Should I Attend My Antenatal Appointments?

Your antenatal appointments are put in place to ensure the safety of you and your baby. If you’re well, you should check with your hospital that they still advise you to attend but this should be fine to go ahead as normal. Below is some key advice that has been given by the NHS and should be followed to protect you, the healthcare providers and other visitors to the hospital. 

  • If your appointments have been more frequent due to any implications or testing then your maternity team will be in touch with the plans. 
  • You should contact your healthcare team to check appointments due to staffing issues but your appointments will still be going ahead but possibly on a different date or a different clinic. 
  • Some appointments may be conducted over the phone instead due to the virus spread as long as this can be done this way without physical presence. 
  • If you have any questions you can find information online through the NHS as your maternity care specialist may be taking longer to get back to you. 

Stay home. Stay Safe. Protect the NHS.

NHS

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