I’ve been inundated with emails and calls from pregnant women these past few weeks who are uncertain about what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
Prenatal classes have been cancelled around the country leaving many expectant parents feeling overwhelmed about what their options now are. Hospitals are strictly limiting visitors and pregnant women are only able to have their birth partner with them and no additional visitors. Prenatal doctor and midwife check-ups are being changed to tele-health check-ups where possible and early discharge from hospital is being recommended if suitable.
Pregnancy can be overwhelming and confusing at the best of times, but with all the chaos and conflicting information currently available, it is undoubtedly even more stressful than normal for any woman who is currently pregnant.
First and foremost, the best thing a pregnant woman can do right now is avoid late-night Dr. Google sessions, focus on what she can control and find someone she can talk to about how she’s feeling. Whether that’s her partner or a family member or close friend preferably with a phone call!
Secondly, try and keep the following facts in mind which will hopefully help to calm any overwhelming fears about the Coronavirus and pregnancy.
What’s the current situation with Coronavirus?
COVID-19 was first identified in the Hubei Province, China. As we know, the virus continues to spread globally and has already had a huge impact here in Australia socially and economically.
If you want to stay up to date with the most current information, my top tip is to go direct to the source – rather than your social media feeds.
Should pregnant women be worried about how the Coronavirus could affect them and their unborn baby?
When you are pregnant, your immune system is compromised. That means that you’re in a slightly higher risk category for contracting illnesses and viruses like the common cold and flu. Thankfully, based on the best information currently available, pregnant women do not appear to be more at risk of getting the Coronavirus than the general population.
Those women that have contracted the virus while pregnant have generally displayed mild symptoms and there is no current evidence to suggest that there is mother to baby transmission during birth.
Everyone should be taking precautions right now to protect themselves, family and community at large. Wherever possible, please stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do need to go out for essential groceries, doctors appointments or if your place of work requires you to be there in-person, always follow best-practice hygiene:
- Wash your hands thoroughly (at least for 20 seconds) and regularly before eating, touching your face and especially when you’ve been out in public.
- Carry alcohol-based hand sanitiser with a minimum of 60% alcohol (anything less is not proven to be effective against viruses) with you in case there are times when you can't access soap and water. Although, if your hands are visibly dirty you should always wash with soap and water.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who you don’t already live with, keep to the 2-metre rule.
It’s also advised that you’re up to date with all immunisations including the Whooping cough vaccine and the new-season Flu vaccine, which we hope will be available in the coming weeks. Speak to your health care provider about when you can have these immunisations.
What should you do if you’re unwell?
The symptoms of Coronavirus vary from very mild (some people report no symptoms at all) to others becoming severely ill. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
If you’re pregnant and have any of these symptoms, you should:
- Stay home and call your healthcare provider who will direct you on how to proceed
- Use a tissue anytime you need to cough or sneeze, throw it away immediately and then wash your hands thoroughly.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects that you touch frequently
If you’re unsure whether your classes or birth plans have been or will be affected, contact your healthcare provider so that you can start making alternative plans if need be.
And importantly, try as best as you can to enjoy this special time. While it can be hard to do, remember that your mental health is just as important is your physical health so you need to be doing everything you can to look after yourself. Yes, it’s a crazy and unprecedented time but being pregnant and welcoming a new life into the world is still something to be treasured and to look forward to.
Enjoy the chance to rest where you can, soak up the time with your partner while it’s just the two of you and look forward to meeting your little one very soon.
Disclaimer: This article was published on Friday 27th March 2020. The information provided in this article is correct at the time of publication. Given that information is changing daily on COVID-19, we encourage you to check with the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government Department of Health for the very latest information and advice - links above.
If your antenatal classes have been cancelled and you’re due to give birth in the coming months, you may be looking for alternatives. Birth Beat offers comprehensive online childbirth education through The Ultimate Online Prenatal Program. Birth Beat was created by Edwina Sharrock, a Registered Nurse and Midwife who’s delivered 100s of babies and helped over 1000 parents prepare for childbirth.
Birth Beat enables you and your partner to prepare for childbirth and early parenthood with up-to-date, evidence-based information – all from the comfort of your couch.
Click here for more information on Birth Beat