COVID-19 and Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a challenge even under normal circumstances but now with the pandemic, there are even more questions women have and we’ll try to answer them here.
The most important thing is where and who you get your information from. The top two trusted resources are the World Health Organization and the Canadian Government. We’ll be summarizing their recommendations below. It’s a good idea to check back with these sources as information can change and they will be the most up-to-date.
Right now, the Canadian government says:
“Currently, there is no evidence that suggests pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 or if acquired, having more serious illness. There is also not enough evidence at this time to confirm that a mother can pass COVID-19 to her child during pregnancy.”
So if you are having issues and concerns contact your doctor or head to the emergency room. Currently Canadian emergency rooms are still able to take patients.
For Pregnant Women
Due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that you take precautions to protect yourself against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) to your healthcare provider.
- Stay home as much as possible, except for important medical appointments, and work from home if possible.
- Talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife about the possibility of telephone or videoconference appointments.
- Avoid visitors to your home, unless for medical purposes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Practice physical distancing. Keep a distance of at least two metres from others.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Avoid touching frequently touched surfaces when in public.
- Avoid crowded places and peak-hours. Make limited trips to the store for essentials.
- Avoid travel by public transit.
Pregnant women who are at high risk of complication from COVID-19, including those who have heart or lung disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system, need to take extra precautions, such as:
- Asking family, a neighbour or friend to help with essential errands (e.g., picking up prescriptions, buying groceries).
- Talking with your health care provider about how to protect yourself and ensure you have enough of your prescribed medications and medical supplies.
Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful. It is normal to feel sad, scared, or confused. There is currently not enough evidence to indicate that a mother can pass COVID-19 to her child during childbirth. It is important to talk to your health care provider about how COVID-19 may affect your birth plan and your family after birth:
- If you plan to give birth in a hospital or birth centre, talk to your health care provider about your birth plan, and how it may need to change due to COVID-19.
- Learn about the COVID-19 policies regarding support and visitors.
- If you plan to give birth at home, talk to your midwife about whether homebirths are still an option in your province or territory, and precautions to take to ensure your home environment is safe.
- If you have COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about how this may affect giving birth.
Your healthcare provider may consult other specialists for you or your baby as required.
If possible, you and your baby should not leave home unless medically necessary. Once a baby is born, they can get COVID-19 from other people, so it is important to put in place measures to prevent the spread of the infection. If you have or think you have COVID-19, you must isolate yourself in your home. This includes practicing physical distancing in your home, with the only exception being the baby. You can hold your baby skin-to-skin and stay in the same room as your baby if preferred, especially during the establishment of breastfeeding and for bonding.
If you are symptomatic (even if symptoms are mild) you should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby:
- Wash your hands often, especially before and after touching your baby and other children.
- Practice proper respiratory etiquette
- Wear a non-medical mask or face covering (i.e. constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping, and secured to the head by ties or ear loops) when you are close to your baby (less than 2 metres) and especially during feeding time.
- Ensure the environment around you is clean and disinfected with approved hard-surface disinfectants.
Breastfeeding is recommended, when possible, as it has many health benefits and offers the most protection against infection and illness throughout infancy and childhood. The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in breast milk. Breastfeeding can provide important food security for your baby.
If you have or think you have COVID-19, follow the precautions listed above when feeding your baby. In addition, parents should also consider the following:
- If using a nursing pillow, put a clean towel on the pillow each time you are feeding your baby.
- If using a breast pump, sterilize your equipment carefully before and after each use. Wash the pump/containers after every use with liquid soap (i.e. dishwashing liquid and warm water). Rinse with hot water for 10-15 seconds.
- Do not share bottles or breast pumps.
If you are too ill to breastfeed or provide routine baby care, you are encouraged to ask a healthy adult to feed and care for the baby. As there is COVID-19 in the home, they should wear a non-medical face mask or facial covering and wash their hands frequently when caring for the baby.
Unfortunately, it is strongly recommended that you have no visitors as social distancing is the best way that we currently have to limit the chance of someone catching COVID-19. This is a confusing time and it is important to remember to be kind and avoid judgment. Canada’s health care system is currently coping well with the pandemic
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