Words of advice to expectant moms amid coronavirus

No evidence to suggest pregnant women are more at risk of contracting Covid-19, experts say.
No evidence to suggest pregnant women are more at risk of contracting Covid-19, experts say.

Pregnant woman are no more susceptible to contracting Covid-19 experts have said, and the good news is there is nothing to indicate that the virus can be spread to newborns during childbirth.

But, in line with all other warnings, neonatal specialists have cautioned expectant mothers to adopt all preventive hygiene measures.

Port Elizabeth gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Daniel Truter said: “What makes things difficult is that we have very little information to go by, we only know of about 38 cases of pregnant women with coronavirus worldwide.”

“But the good news is that pregnant women do not seem to have a worse susceptibility or outcome than the non-pregnant population.”

He said there were also no special precautions that needed to be followed in the case of expectant mothers over and above the current advised measures of regular handwashing and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people.

There is also no evidence of transmission to the unborn child.

“There is no evidence of transmission via the placenta, during natural birth or from breastfeeding,” Truter said.

And while pregnant women would likely receive priority treatment if resources became limited, Truter urged family members to respect the mother and child after birth, at a time when visiting needed to be restricted.

“The neonate's immune system is weak and post-partum isolation, is in my opinion, needed,” he added.

But while the current statistics can provide some sense of relief to expectant moms, many remain flustered amid the uncertainty as the number of cases in SA rose to 402 on Monday — an increase of 128 from the previous day.

Lisa-Marie van Aardt, 31, who is expecting her second child on April 3, said the past week of her pregnancy had been particularly stressful with the rapid rise in the number of positive cases.

“It is quite upsetting to be giving birth in the midst of all this. Also, there is not a lot of information pertaining specifically to pregnant women and Covid-19,” she said.

“We have been told to isolate for three months but I have not seen anything detailing whether we are more susceptible to the virus or whether our newborns will be provided with extra care while at hospital.”

Van Aardt said her family had already decided that they would limit visits after the birth of her daughter.

“Prevention is better than cure and nothing is more true given the times we find ourselves in,” she said, adding that once the virus had been contained and proven remedies put in place, her daughter would slowly be introduced to other people.

Midwife Sister Teresa Hayward said she had advised all moms and dads to get flu vaccinations and to avoid big groups of any kind, which unfortunately included stork parties.

“When baby comes, go into self-isolation and no visitors.”

But Hayward advised not delaying any vaccinations.