Coronavirus in pregnancy: how dangerous is infection for pregnant women and the baby?

How dangerous is Corona for pregnant women and their babies?? The good news is that it is very rare for the virus to be transmitted to the baby in the womb. Pregnant women, however, are at increased risk for a severe course of Covid 19. Here is all the information about the coronavirus and pregnancy.

Fear and uncertainty: Pregnant in corona times

The joy of childbirth has given way to fear and uncertainty in the corona pandemic: What if I contract the coronavirus during pregnancy?? Does the coronavirus harm the baby? How dangerous is a corona infection for newborns?? Will the hospital where I am having my baby be completely overwhelmed in the face of so many corona cases? And should I vaccinate myself against covid-19 as a pregnant woman? All these questions are on the minds of parents expecting their child during the Corona pandemic.

Here, we’ve compiled the most important facts that researchers know about the effects of coronavirus on pregnancy, birth, and babies, based on what we know so far.

Coronavirus: What pregnant women need to know

Because the study situation is still quite thin – and because it makes sense anyway – we advise: Avoid contacts if possible! Hedge your bets, protect yourself from infection. Because, warns Professor Frank Louwen, vice president of the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG): "If you get pneumonia – from corona or otherwise – your pregnancy is at risk." So in these times, even more than usual: Better safe than sorry.

Coronavirus: Are pregnant women more at risk than other people??

Pregnancy increases not the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

However, the risk of severe disease progression is arguably increased in pregnant women, recent research shows: A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that pregnant women who have contracted coronavirus and are hospitalized are arguably at increased risk for serious complications after all, as well as a higher risk of preterm birth. The study involved just over 400.000 women with symptoms studied, more than 23.000 of them were pregnant.

According to the study, severe courses of covid 19 occur mainly in pregnant women with a previous illness or risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. However, these risk factors also promote complications in non-pregnant women. However, Sascha Ellington, one of the study’s authors, emphasizes that the Overall risk of complications low be.

Higher risk of death among pregnant women

A recent study by the University of Washington School of Medicine and the University of Oxford, in which just over 2.000 pregnant women from 18 countries were studied, shows a risk of death over twenty times higher than non-infected pregnant women.

A study of 400 also shows similar numbers.000 pregnancies in the USA. According to the study, the risk of heart attack in pregnant women infected with Covid-19 is 27 times higher and the risk of death is 28 times higher than in non-pregnant women.

Nevertheless: absolute risk is extremely low

No reason to panic! Women of childbearing age are generally at low risk for a severe course of the disease. This means that the vast majority of pregnant women – just like non-pregnant women of the same age – usually have only mild or moderate symptoms. Many infections pass completely without symptoms even in expectant mothers.

Doctors adviseExpectant mothers with pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease are among those at risk and should take special precautions.

Pneumonia in pregnancy: danger for the baby

Frank Louwen warns of risk of pneumonia in pregnancy. "If you get pneumonia, then you have a serious problem", notes the gynecologist. Because: "Then your pregnancy is at risk." He does not want to unsettle expectant mothers, he says. But pneumonia, whether caused by Corona or otherwise, endangers the oxygen supply to the child in the womb. "Therefore, we strongly advise pregnant women to drastically reduce their social contacts, to work only at home and to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly."

Can babies contract the coronavirus in the womb?? Or directly after the birth?

Studies show that the coronavirus is rarely transmitted from mother to fetus. However, the rate of premature births in pregnant women is increased in connection with a corona infection.

May pregnant women be vaccinated against coronaviruses?

In Germany, the Permanent Vaccination Commission of the Robert Koch Institute does not currently recommend vaccination against the coronavirus. The reason for this is simply the insufficient data available. But initial studies show encouraging results: Corona vaccinations can protect both the mother and her baby. The antibodies that are formed after the vaccination are passed on to the child in the womb and later through the mother’s milk.

The Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) states: "Pregnant women with pre-existing conditions and a resulting high risk of severe covid-19 disease may be offered vaccination in individual cases after a risk-benefit assessment and detailed information."

Those who have close contact with pregnant women in this country may be given priority for vaccination.

Pregnant women in other countries are already being vaccinated against Sars-CoV-2. So it should only be a matter of time before expectant mothers in Germany are also vaccinated against Sars-CoV-2.

Can corona vaccination affect fertility?

There is a claim circulating in social media that the antibodies formed after a Corona vaccination also act against components of the placenta, leading to infertility. There is no evidence for this.

Pregnancy and Corona: questions about childbirth

Does Corona change the birth situation in clinics?

One thing is certain: many delivery rooms are already extremely busy, and there is a shortage of midwives everywhere. Even before Corona, especially in big cities, women in labor were turned away at the gate or had to give birth in the hallways because the delivery rooms were full. Because: Fewer and fewer delivery rooms are facing more and more births. If, in addition, doctors and midwives are absent because of Corona infection or isolation, the situation will worsen.

Many hospitals are already taking precautions, such as restricting visiting hours or banning visits altogether. In many hospitals, no one is allowed in the delivery room except the father or another accompanying person. Some are even stricter: Even the father has to stay out there.

Policies vary from clinic to clinic. Therefore, be sure to check with the clinic where you plan to deliver your baby.

Can pregnant women deliver vaginally if infected?

Based on the evidence to date, there is nothing to prevent vaginal delivery. "It’s usually best, even if the woman is infected", Louwen says. In such cases, however, the man must stay at home: "Otherwise he will infect the entire delivery room." Only if an urgent delivery is necessary due to the respiratory illness can a cesarean section be safer in some cases, he said.

According to the DGGG, there is nothing to be said against peridural anesthesia (PDA); it only advises against nitrous oxide because this can increase the spread of the virus through the air. However, if you are infected, you should refrain from a birth center or home birth and have your baby in a clinic where the baby can be continuously monitored electronically and its oxygen levels checked.

Can the baby stay with the mother after birth if she is infected with Corona?

According to the current status: Yes. If that’s what you want and your baby is doing well – that is, there are no complications. However, the DGGG points out that this recommendation may change if there is further knowledge about the virus. So far, there are no official cases of sick pregnant women or newborns in Germany.

Is the corona virus dangerous for babies?

Children often have more harmless courses than adults. What about babies? So far, it looks like babies usually don’t have to deal with severe symptoms of the disease either. "From everything that has been reported so far, it looks like babies and children are less likely to become infected than adults and also only show mild symptoms", says Louwen. The only downer: "All that has been reported so far", is not much. And especially regarding newborns or even premature births, there is almost no experience.

Increases the risk of premature birth or miscarriage?

According to the DGGG, the premature birth rate is slightly increased in pregnant women with Covid-19 compared to non-infected pregnant women. A recent study from Imperial College London shows that COVID-19 infection in pregnancy can not Is associated with stillbirths or early death of the newborn baby.

Breastfeeding in corona times: Here’s what you should keep in mind

Should mothers breastfeed their babies if they have Covid-19?? Yes! Even if you have been infected with Corona, the DGGG, the Professional Association of Gynecologists and the Stiftung Kindergesundheit unanimously advise breastfeeding the baby. Because: According to current knowledge, coronaviruses do not seem to be transmitted via breast milk. So far, the virus has not been detected in breast milk either.

Because of the close skin contact, however, the infected mother should observe a whole range of hygiene precautions. These measures should be taken even by mothers who are only suspected of being infected.

Hygiene rules for breastfeeding

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly – before and after, for about 20 seconds. "It’s longer than you think", says Professor Berthold Koletzko: "It takes about that long to sing the song ‘Happy birthday’ twice in a row".
  2. If you are infected, you should wear a mouthguard to protect your child – even when breastfeeding. This is how you prevent droplet transmission.
  3. If you cannot breastfeed your baby, you can also pump the milk. However, you should also pay close attention to hygiene – and wash your hands thoroughly every time before you touch the pump. You should also sterilize the pump and bottle after each use.
  4. Seek advice from your midwife, your gynecologist or the attending physicians at the maternity clinic.

For detailed info:

Coronavirus: What to do in case of suspicion?

If you have had direct contact with a person infected with Corona and/or discover symptoms in yourself or your baby that indicate Corona, contact your local public health department, or report to the medical on-call service.

In addition, you should call your gynecologist if you are pregnant and suspect infection. If you are about to give birth, contact the clinic by phone to discuss further procedures.

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