Novel Coronavirus & Pregnancy - Common Symptoms & Precautions
If you're a pregnant woman, it's quite natural to feel concerned about the new global pandemic, called the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. While experts are still not sure how the virus affects pregnant women and her fetus, it would be great for you to know what Coronavirus is, its symptoms, and what precautions you can take to protect yourself from this lethal virus.
What is Novel Coronavirus?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are seven different types of Coronavirus. While many of them cause mild cold symptoms such as sore throat and runny nose, other more dangerous forms of the virus such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV may cause more severe disease, including pneumonia and multi-organ failure, and even death.
The new type of Coronavirus that has spread globally is SARS-CoV-2, which is also known as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19. Similar to MERS and SARS, this Coronavirus also causes cold-like symptoms and can lead to severe respiratory problems. The new Coronavirus has not been previously identified in humans, and it appears to be more dangerous than SARS and MERS at the moment as there is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment available to prevent or treat COVID-19.
What Are the Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus?
COVID-19 typically spread from an infected person to another via respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing of the infected person. You’re most at risk:
- If you’re in close contact (within about six feet) with an infected person, like touching, hugging, or shaking hands.
- If you touch something that has been contaminated with the COVID-19, and then you touch anywhere on the face before you wash your hands.
Different people who have had confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus got different symptoms. However, according to the NHS and the WHO, there are three flu-like symptoms that are common in the majority of people who contract Coronavirus:
- Fever (a high temperature)
- Cough - can be any kind of, not just dry
- Shortness of breath
Other less common symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and fatigue.
The likelihood of different symptoms with coronavirus. Picture: LBC / PA
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after a person has been exposed.
Novel Coronavirus and Pregnancy
In February 2020, the world's leading independent general medical journal, The Lancet, published a small study related to the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants. Here are the key findings of the study:
- Nine pregnant women who were exposed to COVID-19 were studied.
- All of the women delivered in Wuhan, China - the origin of the epidemic
- None of the mothers experienced severe illness or pneumonia
- None of the mothers died
- COVID-19 was not presented in the cord blood, amniotic fluid, or breastmilk
- The newborn babies were not born infected with the virus.
Another report from the World Health Organization (WHO) found similar results. Here’s what the WHO report found:
- The report investigated 147 pregnant women, out of which 64 tested positive for COVID-19, 82 were suspected, and 1 had no symptoms.
- 8% of those women had severe disease, and 1% were critical.
- The WHO concluded that pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk of severe disease.
In general, pregnant women are more prone to COVID-19 as pregnancy decreases the immune system response, and the lung capacity decreases as the pregnancy progresses. Though this doesn't necessarily mean that pregnant women will get exposed to COVID-19 very quickly. Again, there is limited information available as of now about the impact of Novel Coronavirus on pregnant women.
Novel Coronavirus Precautions to Take During Pregnancy
For Novel Coronavirus, prevention is better than cure. Here are what precautions you need to take to protect yourself from Novel Coronavirus in pregnancy:
- Wear a Face Mask: It will not only prevent you from inhaling any respiratory droplets from the air but also it will prevent you from touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Also, in case you're infected, it will also protect the other people around you.
- Maintain Social Distancing: Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap (or hand wash liquid) and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when hand washing is not possible.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid being around people who are sick.
- Avoid touching frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette.
- Get enough sleep and keep a healthy pregnancy diet to strengthen your immune system.
- Travel less and stay indoors.
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical help immediately.
- Stay updated and follow the advice given by your doctor
- Wash/sanitize your hands properly before and after touching your little one or any breastfeeding equipment like pumps or bottles.
- Always wear a face mask when near your newborn, including during breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
- Maintain good respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette.