We understand that our patients may be feeling anxious and worried at this time – and confused about the implications the coronavirus may have on their pregnancy. Please read on to understand how we are managing the risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic and what measures we are employing to prevent the spread of the infection and ensure your pregnancy is unaffected.
What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?
Over the course of the pandemic, lots of information has been gathered on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy. I can now say with confidence that:
- There is no direct effect on a baby’s physical development if his/her mother is infected with COVID-19. By this, I mean, the virus itself does not lead to an increase in fetal abnormalities.
- There are some reports of COVID-19 causing an infection in an unborn baby, but the risk must be quite low.
- There is an increase in premature birth if the mother is infected with COVID-19.
- Pregnant women are not more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than non-pregnant women.
- Pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID-19 infections. Severe infection includes a much higher rate of hospital admission, respiratory distress syndrome, and intensive care unit admission for mechanical ventilation (breathing with a tube). This is the major contributor to the increase in preterm birth; pregnant women can be so unwell that the baby must be delivered, regardless of the gestation, in order to save the mother’s life.
- Pregnant women are more likely to die from COVID-19 infection than non-pregnant women.
However, it is important to note that most pregnant women who have a COVID-19 infection experience a mild infection only and recover fully with no impact on the pregnancy.
If I am diagnosed with COVID-19 during my pregnancy, what effect will it have on my baby?
The major risk to your baby is that premature birth is more likely. It does not increase the chance of abnormalities in your baby.
Can I pass coronavirus on to my baby?
It is possible, but very unlikely.
Should I be vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved and available now for all pregnant women.
It has been approved in Australia because the safety has been very well established in studies overseas, plus there is no plausible way that the vaccine could have a harmful impact on your baby.
Pregnant women are currently being prioritised for vaccination because they are at particular risk for getting severe COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 infection can lead to premature birth of your baby.
If you would like to be vaccinated, book an appointment here. Contact my office and we will email you a letter confirming your eligibility.
I understand that most pregnant women are worried about being vaccinated against COVID-19. We have more resources available to help you with your decision making. If you would like more information, please email [email protected] or discuss COVID-19 vaccination with me at your next appointment.
Do I need to change my birth plan because of COVID-19 risk?
There is no need to change your birth plan, regardless of how you expect the baby to be born. You can still have skin-to-skin contact with your baby and you can still breastfeed.
What should I do if I have had contact with a person with COVID-19?
Firstly, we recommend that you follow all advice from the Department of Health and Human Services. Please also contact my rooms and let us know if you are subject to any restrictions such as mandatory quarantine, so we can plan your pregnancy care accordingly. You can do this by calling (03) 9418 8299 or emailing [email protected].
What happens if I am quarantined during or before my pregnancy?
During your period of quarantine, you will be unable to attend appointments. But don’t worry, we will come up with a plan to ensure your safety, and your baby’s safety.
If you suspect you need to self-quarantine or have been told to undergo quarantine, please contact us by calling (03) 9418 8299.
Our first priority is the safety and care of your pregnancy, and we will make the required adjustments to reduce the spread of coronavirus through our community. It may be necessary to defer certain appointments or communicate by teleconference. We will decide together what’s best for your particular situation.
What happens if I go into labour while quarantined?
I always recommend that patients who think they are in labour CALL DELIVERY SUITE directly on (03) 9418 8302 24 hours a day.
The midwives will assess your symptoms and provide advice in consultation with me when required.
It is most likely that you will be advised to attend the hospital, as usual. The hospital will institute very strict infection controls. Examples could include you being isolated to your room or staff wearing protective equipment such as disposable gowns and masks.
You will not be told to stay at home from the hospital because you are quarantined, or even if you have coronavirus.
Should I still go to work while pregnant?
There is no advice from any official bodies that pregnant women should exclude themselves from work at any stage in the pregnancy. This is because pregnant women generally experience mild symptoms of coronavirus.
If your work advises that you shouldn’t attend, this is usually to reduce the spread of the virus to the community rather than to you as a pregnant woman, and that is a decision to be made by your employer.
What can I do to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on my pregnancy?
The most effective way to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on your pregnancy is to be vaccinated.
What are you doing to reduce the impact of coronavirus on my pregnancy?
The most important step I can take is to encourage you to be vaccinated.
Being a private practice, we have been able to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances, and all pregnancy appointments will proceed as usual.
The following strategies have been instituted:
- Pregnant patients attend as usual in person
- Gaps have been placed in our consulting schedule to avoid a build-up of waiting patients
- Non-pregnant patients where possible are having virtual appointments by video conference and therefore will not be in the waiting room
- All patients disinfect their hands on arrival
- If you have cold and flu symptoms, your appointment will be delayed until you have a negative COVID-19 swab.
- We will not shake your hand. Sorry…
I’m still worried, what can I do?
There are always worries associated with pregnancy. We always encourage patients to seek help from us when needed, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception.
The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult a healthcare professional for medical advice specific to you.