COVID-19 is a new strain disease and for the first time exposed to humans. We are still learning how it spreads, severity of it, and to what extent it can spread.
What is the risk to pregnant women of getting exposed to COVID-19? Are pregnant women at higher risk of illness? If they get infected, how serious will be this sickness in comparison to other people?
Currently, there isn't much information available on whether a pregnant woman is at a higher risk of getting infected as well as about the seriousness of illness to pregnant women. pregnant ladies experience a lot of changes in their bodies, so risk of certain infections is higher. They are more exposed to develop a severe illness from a large family viruses like COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections like influenza. Hence, it becomes very important for them to take extra preventive measures.
What measures pregnant woman can take to protect themselves from getting exposed to COVID-19?
Pregnant woman should take similar precautionary measures like general public to avoid infection. The following actions can help them to safeguard their health:
Can COVID-19 viruses cause problems during pregnancy?
Can COVID-19 be transmitted from pregnant women to the fetus or infants?
If a woman is infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy, will it hurt infants?
Interim guidance of COVID-19 and transmission of other viral respiratory infections for breastfeeding mothers who are suspected or test positive for COVID-19.
Much is unknown about spreading COVID-19 through breast milk. The coronaviruses transmit from one person to another in close contact mainly through respiratory droplets produced when infected person sneezes and coughs. Spreading of these viruses is similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. In limited sample studies on breastfeeding mothers with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) was not found in breast milk; however until now there is no testament whether the virus can be transmitted through breastfeeding by an infected mother.
Breast milk is rich in immunity and protects infants against many illness. There are rare exceptions in which breastfeeding or feeding of breast milk is not recommended. Currently, there are no specific guidance for breastfeeding during infection with viruses similar to coronaviruses like SARS-CoV or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Mother should take precautions while breastfeeding so that the virus do not affect the infant.
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants to develop strong immune system. However, much is unknown about COVID-19, how to start breastfeeding and whether to continue it or not should be determined by the mother with guidance of family members and healthcare providers. A mother infected with COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take extra precautions like washing hands before touching baby, wearing mask while having baby to avoid spreading the virus. Mother can pump out milk using manual or electric pump and ask caretaker to feed the baby. She should wash her hands before touching the pump and clean pump properly after using it.