Motherhood

COVID-19 and Pregnancy: How does the virus impact pregnant women?

Now that I am very close to my estimated date of delivery, I am worried about being exposed to people during clinic visits. Whether it be my obstetrician’s clinic or diagnostic clinic, a closed space where people come and go isn’t something I am comfortable to be staying in during this time. 

Aside from myself, I am worried about when my baby arrives. We will be staying for a while in the hospital, and after discharge, there will be multiple hospital visits for the baby’s check-up with the pediatrician. This was based on our experience with my firstborn.

When I had my regular clinic visit early today, I asked questions pertaining to my concerns. My obstetrician told me its too early to say if there are alternatives for the baby’s hospital visits. But she assured me that in case the crisis gets worse, the hospital will make up something in response to this.

Is There Any Information About COVID-19 And Pregnant Women?

Recent news has always been calling the attention of the elderly, including those with underlying health conditions, to be at high risk. Hence, the need to stay at home and avoid any possibility of contracting the disease.

I have heard during the WHO live conference that children are also susceptible, but just like adults, cases range from mild to severe.

How about pregnant women? You may also wonder. I thought about looking for a pregnant woman and COVID-19 study if there is one. I got to see this medical review. I then immediately wrote this blog post, so I can share the details with other pregnant women out there!

Would a pregnant woman infected with COVID-19 undergo preterm labor?

Are there distinct symptoms from a COVID-19 infected pregnant woman in comparison to non-pregnant adults?

Will the baby inside the womb get infected as well if the mother is positive with COVID-19?

These are just some questions that pregnant women may think of and can make a pregnant woman anxious during this COVID-19 phenomenon.

In the study, the researchers reviewed nine cases of pregnant women infected with COVID-19. All of them were admitted to a hospital located in Wuhan. 

All of the nine pregnant women were in their third trimester and all delivered via cesarean section due to the following reasons:

  1. COVID-19 infection
  2. severely elevated ALT/AST (a sign that the liver is inflamed or damaged)
  3. history of C-Section x2
  4. pre-eclampsia (pregnant woman with high blood pressure and presence of a damaged organ, such as kidney)
  5. history of stillbirth x2
  6. fetal distress
  7. premature rupture of membrane

*The last two items on the list were actually pregnancy complications due to COVID-19 infection.

Seven out of nine patients had a fever but without chills. Respiratory symptoms were also seen, such as cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat. In addition, some presented with muscle pain and general malaise.

Their infection was confirmed by testing throat swab samples, which showed a positive result for COVID-19.

At the time of delivery, amniotic fluid samples from these nine infected women were aspirated via syringe. Cord blood was collected. Throat swab samples were also obtained from the newborn. During the first lactation, a breastmilk sample was also obtained.

Did Any of The Pregnant Women Cases Worsen? 

Fortunately, all of them did not develop severe pneumonia requiring intensive care and monitoring. Also, none of the nine patients died after being diagnosed to have COVID-19.

How Were The Babies Upon Delivery?

It was great to know that no fetal deaths occurred. All the babies delivered were alive. And during the first 1-minute and 5-minute observations, they showed unremarkable conditions.

All the collected samples were run into a CDC recommended kit to check if they have a presence of COVID-19. The tests on the amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swab, and breastmilk resulted in being negative of the highly infectious virus.

Conclusion

Being pregnant comes with physiological changes that are necessary for the growth of the fetus inside you. This also means that we may not be at our best condition to protect ourselves from infections around us. 

We are susceptible to pathogens, and this may also be the same situation for the baby in our womb. In cases of acquiring a disease, pregnant women can also be at an increased risk of having complications.

Through this study that I found, the pertinent findings that I learned from it make me somehow relieved and felt knowledgeable than before.

As mentioned in the paper, the sample size may be small, but the findings are essential to inform the public that the signs and symptoms are similar to non-pregnant infected adult patients. Also, still no evidence of COVID-19 transmission from the mother to the baby – whether inside the uterus or via breastfeeding.

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