Coronavirus and Risks in 1st Trimester of Pregnancy

Coronavirus is a respiratory disease that is transmitted through droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs. This disease, also referred to as COVID-19, can be spread when someone touches an object or a surface that contains the virus and then touches their nose, eyes, or mouth.

Coughing, fever, and troubling breathing are coronavirus symptoms. One can experience these symptoms anywhere from 2 to 14 days from the day one got into contact with the virus.

Pregnant Women

Coronavirus has thrown the world into a panic, and with good reason since the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it a global pandemic. It is crucial for pregnant women to arm themselves with the correct information on COVID-19 during their pregnancy trimesters. This knowledge will help you take the best care of yourself and your unborn child and to help you stay calm.

A. Are pregnant women at higher risk of getting Coronavirus?

One of the questions that pregnant women have all over the world is whether they are at higher risk of getting Coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to prove that pregnant women are more susceptible to coronavirus disease compared to the rest of the population. Also, there is none to suggest that pregnant women with Coronavirus have higher chances of becoming seriously ill from the disease. However, the CDC added that viruses originating from the same family as Coronavirus had put women at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Fever is one of the coronavirus symptoms in humans. High fever can be dangerous during the first trimester because it can lead to a congenital heart defect in infants and other deformities like the cleft lip. Therefore, pregnant women should take extra precautions to protect themselves from diseases such as Coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus infection, and the CDC, together with health bodies all over the world, are still learning about it. So far, there is no concrete answer on whether or not it can cause adverse outcomes in pregnancies or whether it can negatively impact a baby’s health post-delivery. There lacks a clear answer on what goes on in a pregnant woman’s body when she contracts Coronavirus. The good news is that there are no reported cases of pregnant women who have succumbed to the virus.

It is important to note that as a pregnant lady, your immune system works differently. Therefore, you are more likely to get infected by viral diseases such as the flu. However, this does not mean that the same happens with the Coronavirus. The information is intended to encourage you to take the necessary precaution to avoid getting COVID-19.

B. Precautions to take to avoid Coronavirus when pregnant

You should know that there are no special precautions that pregnant women should take to ensure coronavirus prevention. However, you can put in the same measures the general public is encouraged to adhere to. These include:

  • Make sure you get the vaccinations you need, not forgetting the flu vaccine.
  • When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue and throw it in the trash.
  • Avoid touching parts of your body like nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Avoid interacting with sick individuals, especially those suspected of suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Use soap and water to wash your hands after sneezing/coughing or visiting the toilet. If you do this for 20 seconds or more, it will help to kill COVID-19.
  • Make sure the objects or surfaces you or your family members always touch are cleaned and disinfected.
  • Wash your utensils with hot water and soap.
  • If you are experiencing coronavirus signs and symptoms, you should stay at home and avoid going to crowded places.

C. Transmission of Coronavirus to the baby

No evidence shows that a pregnant lady diagnosed with coronavirus disease can transmit the virus to her unborn child during pregnancy (this is known as vertical transmission) or delivery.

There have been a small number of pregnant women with COVID-19 who have given birth. The babies were tested for Coronavirus, and all of them were negative. Also, samples of both breast milk and amniotic fluid were tested for COVID-19, and they came back negative. Therefore, there isn’t anything to suggest that a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus or infants or that the baby will be born with abnormalities.

In China, some pregnant women with symptoms of COVID gave birth to premature babies. However, there hasn’t been clear evidence to explain whether coronavirus infection was the cause of premature births or whether the doctors decided to deliver the babies early, given that the mothers were sick.

D. Pregnant healthcare personnel caring for coronavirus patients

Health facilities are being encouraged to avoid exposing pregnant healthcare personnel to patients with coronavirus infections symptoms or those who’ve been confirmed to have the virus. This precaution is subject to the number of available staff to take care of patients.

However, there have been cases of healthcare workers contracting corona disease, and some have died from it. An example is in China, where over a thousand healthcare personnel contracted coronavirus disease, and six passed away.

Therefore, a pregnant lady can contract the virus. As previously mentioned here, there has been no confirmation that pregnant women have adverse outcomes from the infection.  

E. Travel advice for pregnant women

Traveling exposes you to the risk of corona infection since you will be in close contact with several people, or you might be going to a high-risk area. Therefore, you need to take precautions if you are traveling when pregnant.

It’s important to make insurance arrangements before you go on a trip. When doing this, check with your insurance whether or not they will cover you and your baby if you give birth wherever you are going. Also, confirm whether they will take care of your treatment if you contract the virus and are quarantined at your intended destination.

It helps to ask your airline if there will be any changes to their schedules because some may suspend flights to high-risk areas or change their plans and create stopovers. Having this information will help you mentally prepare for the change, help you stay calm, and keep you updated on the status of covid at your intended destination.

F. Management of pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19

If you’ve tested positive for coronavirus infection, the first thing you should do is inform your doctor. If your corona symptoms are mild or you haven’t developed any yet, your doctor will most likely tell you to stay at home so you can recover. If your symptoms are severe, you may need to go to the hospital. 

G. Postnatal management: neonatal care and infant feeding

After a woman with coronavirus disease has given birth, the doctor will discuss the various options through which she can care for her baby. For example, the mother may allow a family member, friend, or healthcare personnel to look after the baby until she’s free from the virus. The care can be provided in the medical facility or at home. 

If the mother decides to care for her baby, she should take precautions to ensure the infant does not contract the virus. For example, the baby will be placed in an incubator inside the mother’s room. Any time the mother takes the baby out of the incubator to nurse or bathe him or her, she should wear a gown and a surgical mask. Also, she should wash her hands using soap and water before she touches the baby.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise mothers infected with Coronavirus to express breast milk and then let someone else give it to the baby. The mother should also wash her hands before touching breastfeeding equipment. If you choose to breastfeed your baby or feed them through the bottle, ensure you wear a mask.

H. Information for women and their families

New facts are coming up every day on the coronavirus infection. It is vital to stay up to date with information on Coronavirus. Facts will help you know how to protect yourself from the virus and what to do if you are infected. Check out sites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for the latest updates on Coronavirus.

Final Thoughts

As a pregnant lady, you are responsible for both your health and that of your unborn child. With the coronavirus outbreak, it is essential to be informed of how to care for yourself and your child to avoid putting either of you in harm’s way.

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.

More Resources