Thursday 12 March 2020

Pregnant women should do these things to protect themselves from Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pregnancy is a wonderful thing for you as the expectant mother and your family as you all await the arrival of a(nother) miracle of life into your world. You probably also know that there are certain precautions that pregnant women must take to safeguard themselves and their unborn babies.

As the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) notes, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a very new virus. Because we don't know as much about COVID-19 and because this Coronovirus is similar to a strain of influenza, pregnant women should take all the precautions they would normally take to guard against getting the flu.

You might already know that contracting influenza and high fever can pose serious risks during pregnancy to both the expectant mother and the fetus.

Accordingly, RANZCOG advises, "Influenza is a potentially serious disease for pregnant women, the fetus and newborn babies. A number of changes occur to a women’s body during pregnancy. These changes include reduced lung function, increased cardiac output, increased oxygen consumption, and changes to the immune system. Due to these changes, pregnant women have an increased risk of severe complications from influenza. Pregnant women are more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with influenza than the general population."

Other strains of the flu like SARS and MERS have been shown to elevate the risks to pregnant women. RANZCOG advises that contracting "SARS during pregnancy is associated with an increased incidence of adverse maternal and neonatal complications, such as spontaneous miscarriage, preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, application of endotracheal intubation, admission to the intensive care unit, renal failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy."

Because no vaccine is currently available for COVID-19, I echo RANZCOG's advice that pregnant women strictly follow the precautions that their GPs and Obstetricians have advised them to take to protect themselves from influenza.

What precautions should pregnant women take to guard against the Coronavirus?

RANZCOG advises the following preventative measures to reduce a pregnant woman's chances of contracting COVID-19:  
  • Hand washing regularly and frequently with an alcohol based hand rub or soap and water
  • Avoidance of anyone who is coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Early reporting and investigation of symptoms and prompt access to appropriate treatment and supportive measures if infection is significant.
Pregnant women should also avoid all non-essential travel, especially travel on mass-transport systems like trains, buses and commercial aircraft.

Does the flu vaccine stop pregnant women from contracting the novel Coronavirus?

Influenza vaccinations should be taken before you fall sick, if approved by your GP or Obstetrician.

While vaccination against influenza will not affect a pregnant woman's chances of contracting Coronavirus, it will keep their immune system as strong as possible by limiting her chances of contracting the flu. In turn, this should help their bodies cope better in situations where the expectant mother has been exposed to COVID-19.

What symptoms indicate that a pregnant woman could have contracted Coronavirus?

The symptoms of COVID-19 for pregnant women are exactly the same as those for the general population, including:
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
Remember, just because you may have some or all of these symptoms doesn't mean that you have contracted the novel Coronavirus.

However, if you think you have the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) you should:
  • Call the healthdirect hotline on 1800 022 222 to get assistance from a registered nurse; and
  • Organise an appointment with your GP immediately; or
  • Visit the emergency department of your local hospital.
You can find additional information on the Australian government and RANZCOG Coronavirus information pages.

If you are my patient or would like me to perform your obstetric scans, you can use our convenient online booking system to make your appointment.
Or you can call us on (03) 9775 8942 during business hours to speak to my friend team or to make an appointment