This is a fear that must be haunting all the pregnant ladies who are Covid-19 positive. Fortunately for them here’s some good news from FOGSI. – the body which is the national authority in India, on Obstetric and Gynaecological issues – According to them, as of now, there is little evidence to suggest that the baby’s development is affected by COVID-19. Nor is there any data to indicate that the Novel Coronavirus infection directly leads to miscarriages.
There is rider to this, as mentioned in the guidelines published by the Royal College of Gynaecologists, UK (RCOG) on 30th March 2020. According to this publication, the risk of preterm delivery does exist but is because the doctors may have no choice but to deliver preterm so as to facilitate the mother’s recovery by increasing the efficiency of her ventilation or breathing. Which means preterm delivery may be performed as a life-saving procedure to save the mother. It is to be noted that pregnant women in the third trimester (after 28 weeks) are are more likely to fall seriously ill as compared to the other trimesters. This is when the preterm delivery may need to carried out.
Now let’s look at the possibility of vertical transmission of the Novel Coronavirus (transmission from mother to baby antenatally or intrapartum). Evidence very recently unearthed now suggests that vertical transmission is probable. The RCOG paper mentions a single documented case in which this appears likely, but reassuringly the baby was discharged from hospital and the outcome was good.
In all previously reported cases, infection was found a minimum of 30 hours after birth. The proportion of pregnancies suffering from vertical transmission and therefore the significance to the neonate isn’t yet known.
No previous coronavirus has been shown to cause foetal abnormalities. And, while COVID-19 is new, the absence of reports of an increased incidence of foetal abnormality at routine scans in Asia indicates this is often likely to be similar for the novel coronavirus.
Although the evidence so far available offers no evidence of harm, it’s impossible to offer absolute assurance to any pregnant woman that contracting COVID-19 carries no risk to her baby and little risk to her over and above that experienced by a non-pregnant healthy individual. The knowledge above combines the limited evidence from COVID-19 thus far, with evidence extrapolated from other similar viral illnesses.We are actively seeking more evidence and can update this guidance when this is often available.
Now let us examine what could happen provided the pregnancy went through safely. The chances that the baby is covid-19 positive are rare. However, the risk of transfer from the infected mother to the baby post birth is a distinct possibility. This can be avoided by following the guidelines in FOGSI’s – Pregnancy With Covid-19 Infection (Version 1, 28-03-2020).
- You can express your milk by pump and ask someone else, who is free from the Coronavirus infection to feed the baby while you recuperate in isolation.
- Regularly Sanitise your hands prior to handling your baby or prior to touching anything that comes in contact with the milk. Especially prior to and during the pumping process
- Don a N95 mask whenever in proximity of your baby and specifically while breastfeeding ,
- Prevent the handling of your baby by visitors, to the extent possible.
- Any symptoms like a fever, quick breathing, cough, and/or refusal to eat by the baby – immediately seek the appropriate medical assistance
To summarize, your baby has a good chance of having a safe passage in the mother’s womb, a healthy delivery and the option to be breast-fed.