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Conception, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and COVID-19

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Conception, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and COVID-19

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COVID-19 has its own influence on pregnancy. Read this article to know more about the influences.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Chandni Sehgal

Published At July 13, 2020
Reviewed AtDecember 4, 2023

Introduction

Pregnancy is a divine opportunity. Also, it is the time where women need full attention. It is going to be a new journey for women. If a woman is already pregnant, it is time to be more careful or if a couple is planning for a pregnancy, then this would definitely not be the right time. Breast milk is the most nutritious one. It is also a basic necessity for a child. It is the way an unbreakable bond develops between a baby and a mother. When the baby is hungry, the breast milk from the mother starts flowing automatically. It is very important. If a woman who was waiting for an in-vitro fertilization technique, then the bad news is COVID-19 is pushing this procedure far away.

How Is Conception Affected by COVID-19?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has not put everyone in a comfort zone. There is anxiety everywhere. If the couples are planning for a baby during this COVID-19 season, there might be a possibility of reporting to the hospital during their checkups and that increases the risk of contamination. Everything cannot be planned perfectly, though. There can be situations of unplanned and unexpected pregnancies too. Each and every woman deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, irrespective of their health condition to COVID-19. In this way, a person can maintain social distance. Many doctors recommend avoiding ordinary appointments. When it comes to conception and pregnancy, a woman should never miss any appointments. It is advised to get a consultation through telemedicine services like icliniq.com. Telemedicine is one of the emerging and effective ways to get the health care need while practicing social distancing. The patients can consult the doctors through phone calls, video chats, emails, and text messages. Many gynecologists are making consultations through online platforms. In this way, antenatal care is provided to the patients.

What Effect Does Coronavirus Have on Pregnant Women?

There is no additional risk for pregnant ladies for COVID-19. The shortness of breath experienced by the patients during pregnancy might coincide with the symptoms of COVID-19. If a person usually does not have any symptoms such as shortness of breath and they suspect that they have COVID-19, then they should seek help from maternity health care team. Among the reported cases, the highest number of pregnant patients were known to be in the third trimester of pregnancy. This shows the importance of social distancing right from 28 weeks of time. The risk factors among pregnant women are:

  • Pregnant women who are more than 35 years of age.

  • Overweight and obese individuals.

  • Pre-existing medical illnesses, such as elevated blood pressure, and diabetes.

What Effect Will COVID-19 Have on the Baby, If the Mother Is Tested Positive For COVID-19?

Reports have shown the occurrence of COVID-19 in many newborn babies. Even if the fetus is safe in the womb, if the mother is tested positive, then there are high risks of the mother transmitting the infection to the baby. If the virus is present in the mother, it can interrupt the development of the baby. In the few cases that were reported with the mother being negative, one in five babies was born prematurely. It was left to a situation where the babies should be protected in a neonatal care unit. Some babies should have positive tests for COVID-19. Whether the mother is tested positive for COVID-19 or not, it is essential to provide complete care for the newborn. Pregnant women are not more likely to contract the infection but pregnancy itself alters the immune system and the response to the viral infections, and so the symptoms can be severe in the case of COVID-19. Pregnant women of Asian and black origin were found to be more susceptible than others.

Although the overall risks are low, if a woman is pregnant or has recently been pregnant, they are more likely to become very ill due to COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. COVID-19-infected people may require hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), or the use of a ventilator or other breathing equipment. COVID-19 infection that is severe enough can result in death. Furthermore, if a women has COVID-19 while pregnant, they are at a higher risk of complications that could harm their pregnancy and the developing baby. COVID-19, for example, increases the risk of delivering a preterm or stillborn baby.

What to Do If a Woman is Pregnant?

The best precautionary measure is to follow government guidelines. The government will take measures depending on geographic variability. This will be the best suitable advice. The golden rule for COVID-19 is to maintain social distancing. It is necessary to stay away from common gatherings. This is a wise way to avoid anyone who is suffering from the symptoms of COVID-19. It is still considered good for pregnant women to go for a walk. When a woman is in her third trimester, it is the time when they should give more importance to social distancing.

If a woman is pregnant right now and have an additional medical illness, they can consult a doctor online. Speaking to the midwife who crossed their pregnancy period in a healthy way can be really helpful. Talking to the obstetrician can also help. The mental well-being might be affected too. A women can talk to counselors and ask for their help to relieve the anxiety.

Certain countries have the habit of letting the birth partner be with the pregnant mother during delivery. Due to the viral crisis, the entry of birth partners is being restricted in a few countries now. If a woman was expecting her birth partner to be there, then it would be a disappointment for the patient.

Baby shower functions can be conducted by following the guidelines provided by the government, keeping a limited number of guests (making sure they are fully vaccinated), and maintaining social distancing.

What Are the Precautionary Measures to Be Followed in the Labor Ward?

To prevent the spreading of viruses to other patients, babies, and others who are in the ward, it is very necessary that a person do not attend the maternity ward until and unless it is essential. Make sure the pregnant women have no symptoms of COVID-19 recently.

  • If a person who is supporting a mother during labor, it is necessary to be aware of the infection control procedures to prevent the spreading of the virus to other pregnant mothers in the ward. It is good to wash the hands regularly with soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if the water supply is unavailable. Always wear the mask throughout the presence in the ward.

  • If a person happen to cough or sneeze, cover the mouth with a handkerchief or tissue. It is best to dispose of it in a dustbin immediately.

  • It is also essential for the people accompanying the pregnant mother to wear a mask or any personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of delivery.

  • If there is any particular safety concern to be followed, then be aware of it.

How Should Newborns Be Treated?

The newborns need special care and attention during the outbreak. Vaccination should be given at the right time. Postnatal care is as important as prenatal care. Do not take the baby outside. If a breastfeeding mother is found to be positive for COVID-19, then the baby should be kept isolated. If the baby is isolated from the infected mother, there are chances for the mother to reconnect with the baby by expressing their breast milk using breast pumps. It is essential for mothers to maintain proper hygiene by washing their hands thoroughly before expressing breast milk. And after each pumping session, all the parts that come in contact with the breast milk should be thoroughly washed and the entire pump has to be disinfected.The babies can also be substituted with formula milk that is available. However, there are risks everywhere. It is totally the personal choice of the mother to breastfeed or not. If the mother is completely isolated, then there are no possibilities for feeding. In such cases, the possibility of feeding the baby with other products should be considered.

How Are Babies Affected by COVID-19?

Infants who are under the age of one are known to face a higher risk of COVID-19. The immune system of babies would not have developed well by the age of one. In this situation, if any virus attacks the babies, we do not know if they will be able to fight against them. Babies have a smaller airway, which makes them more susceptible to developing breathing problems. Statistical data showed that less than 11 percent of infants were affected by a severe illness in china. These newborn babies get exposure to viruses during childbirth. They might also get exposure from the caregivers. Special care should be given to the newborn. This might include the temporary separation of the mother from the baby. To decrease the risk of infection, the baby should be carefully monitored for signs of infection. It is necessary that caregivers always wear a face mask. The bottles, dresses, and other objects used by the baby should be washed well with hot water. Additionally, the food plates that are used by the babies should be kept separately. If there are any diabetic patients present in the house, then the baby must be kept isolated from them. If there are any people in the house showing partial symptoms, they must stay away from the baby. Follow-up can be done by the caregivers through phone calls or video calls. Do visit our website for virtual assistance.

Can Pregnant Women Take COVID-19 Vaccine?

  • The pregnant lady who meets the criteria will be able to receive any of the three vaccines now approved in India: Covishield (the local version of the AstraZeneca vaccine), Sputnik V (imported from Russia), or Covaxin (India's homegrown vaccine).

  • In the United States, the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) are preferable for main and booster vaccination over the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine due to the risk of major side effects in pregnant and nursing women.

  • Vaccination registration is open to all pregnant women. It is critical to educate and counsel these women about the potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination so that they may make an informed decision about themselves and their baby's health.

What Is the Best Time for a Woman to Get Vaccinated During Pregnancy?

Vaccination is available to expectant moms at any time during their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman wants to have a COVID-19 vaccine during her pregnancy or after her baby is born, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends scheduling it 14 days before or after any other vaccination. An obstetrician should be consulted about the optimal time to have standard immunizations and the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.

When Should a Pregnant Woman Get Vaccinated if She Already Got Infected With COVID-19 Once?

If a woman becomes infected with COVID-19 during her current pregnancy, she should be vaccinated as soon as possible after delivery.

Conclusion:

Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to get seriously ill, which can lead to pregnancy problems such as preterm birth. It is very important to take extra care while being pregnant in COVID-19 times.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Does Breast Milk Have COVID-19 Antibodies?

Milk that is produced by women with Covid 19 have higher anti-RBD IgA and IgG concentrations than normal milk before the pandemic. Transmission of antibodies through milk is rare.

2.

Can COVID Cause Birth Defects?

Functionally, alterations in the early embryonic stages caused by the viral infection may lead to adverse birth defects. Neurodevelopmental complications increase the risk of developing congenital birth defects.

3.

Is It Fine to Conceive When Sick?

It is safe to have sex and get pregnant while sick. Conceiving while sick does not increase the risk in pregnancy.

4.

Does COVID Delay Ovulation?

Any stressful conditions can cause fluctuation in hormones. Getting affected by Covid is one of the stressful conditions, and it affects hormone levels that can lead to irregular menstruation. This occurs in most cases of ovulation delays.

5.

Can COVID Cause Stillbirth?

Yes, Covid is responsible for stillbirth. Many stillbirths and miscarriages have been reported in pregnant ladies diagnosed with COVID 19. The placental investigation has shown SARS-CoV-2, along with markers of intervillositis, fibrin deposition, and necrosis.

6.

Does COVID Mess With Hormones?

Covid is a stressful condition. This can affect a person mentally and physically, which in turn affect the body’s hormone levels.

7.

Does COVID Make Ovulation Early?

Covid  leads to stress that interferes with hormone regulation. These messed-up hormones cause irregular periods and can delay or get ovulation early.

8.

Does COVID Change the Menstrual Cycle?

Covid like a pandemic, does affect the stress levels of an individual. This stress affects the cortisol levels that, in turn, affect the menstruation

9.

Can COVID Lead To Miscarriage?

The women who get pregnant during Covid have an increased risk of miscarriages, but on the contrary, the risk of other pregnancy complications is more than compared to miscarriages.

10.

Can the Immune System Drop When a Woman Gets Pregnant?

Getting pregnant increases the risk of certain infections, as this can lead to many changes in the immune system. During pregnancy, the immune system is well prepared to defend the invasive pathogens cells like NK cells and monocytes respond more strongly to viral infections.

11.

Is It Fine to Get Pregnant After COVID?

Covid 19 infections drain a lot of energy from an individual, it takes time to recover completely. Conceiving immediately after recovering from covid can take a serious toll on the mother’s as well as the newborn’s health. It mostly affects the respiratory system but is proven to infect other parts of the body too.

12.

What Happens if a Woman Gets Pregnant While COVID Positive?

Pregnant women who are covid positive are most likely to deliver the baby before the 37th week of pregnancy. It is termed as premature birth. These women also face increased risk of having more miscarriages and stillbirths.

13.

Can a Breastfeeding Mother Pass-on COVID?

Symptoms of covid usually fade away soon in 95 % of the population without causing any serious harm. Only individuals with underlying medical conditions need to be careful. This also does not spread to babies by a breastfeeding mom, the main source of spreading infectious droplets in the air while coughing, sneezing, or talking.

14.

Is It Safe to Receive the COVID Vaccine While Breastfeeding?

Till date, there is no such evidence that Covid vaccines during breastfeeding are harmful. These vaccines are not prone to cause Covid 19 in the feeding mother or the babies. It is completely safe.

15.

What Should One Avoid When Attempting to Conceive?

Quitting drinking and smoking are important things to avoid when trying to get pregnant. A healthy diet should be taken; mild to moderate physical exercises along with yoga and meditation to manage stress levels may support fertility a lot.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Chandni Sehgal
Dr. Chandni Sehgal

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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