The New Coronavirus and Pregnant Women

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With the arrival of 2020, the world was overshadowed by the infamous COVID-19, widely known as the new coronavirus, which has left no continent or country without casting its shadow all over it. All people from all walks of life have been affected by this contagion, which has turned into a pandemic within a few weeks. No one has been excluded from the risk of infection that affects the respiratory system, especially the lungs, and can cause severe shortness and difficulty of breathing.

All of this is a source of anxiety for pregnant women and expecting mothers who are preparing to welcome their babies; several questions come to mind: Are pregnant women more likely to catch COVID-19? What will happen if she does get infected? In that case, what will happen to the newborn?

Scientists and doctors have disagreed to some extent concerning the answers to these questions; some assume there is no current evidence to treat mothers differently, while others tend to be more cautious until the information is confirmed.

Pregnant women undergo many changes, including those that affect the immune system; it weakens so that the mother’s body does not expel or attack the fetus. They, thus, become more susceptible to respiratory infections in general; this, of course, applies to COVID-19, which affects the lungs and bronchi. That is why the Director of the British National Health Service declared that the most vulnerable categories, which are the elderly (70 years old and above), pregnant women, and those with chronic diseases that affect the strength of the immune system, must adhere to house isolation for 12 weeks, as prevention and precaution, until things are clear and the effect of the virus on these categories is clarified.

This was also corroborated by Bradford University lecturers in Northern England; they stated that those with weak immunity, such as pregnant women, catch the infection easily and rapidly, and that they are more vulnerable to have complications such as pneumonia, which may be followed by respiratory distress, which limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the fetus. Proponents of this trend recommend that infected mothers should be separated from newborns until full recovery.

On the other hand, others confirm that there is no difference between the way pregnant women are affected by the virus and other people. The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in his conference on 16 March 2020 that there is no scientific evidence that pregnant women are more likely to catch COVID-19, or have different or multiple symptoms than others. In the United States of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended separating mothers with COVID-19 from their newborn babies, then reversed that decision and began handling each case according to their health conditions, stating that the first measure (i.e. separation) was not necessary.

Between these and those, UNICEF has warned that the measures to contain COVID-19 can reduce life-saving health services, which are provided to many categories of people, including maternal care at and after childbirth, which may expose these women and their children to poor-quality care, which may lead women to seek care from non-specialist at home. Pregnant women are now reluctant to go to hospitals to seek help, for fear of getting infected; instead, they call the doctor and the nurse to come home as an appropriate solution in these circumstances.

With such a difference, we find that it is safe for pregnant women to avoid the crowded places as a kind of precaution, with no panic or tension, as they may contribute to weakening the immunity more than the pregnancy itself. We also recommend spending time at home to enjoy the pregnancy and postpartum period with the baby; this may be a good opportunity to cement the mother-child relationship without the need to go out except for necessity.

References

telegraph.co.uk

time.com

unicef.org

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