How coronavirus affects pregnancy and birth: an obstetrician and midwife give advice

Your questions answered here

It's a worrying time for us all right now, as we all practice social distancing and stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic. For pregnant women, anxieties may be more heightened over the health of their unborn babies and how birth will go once at hospital. On Wednesday evening, obstetrician Dr Will Dooley of Happy Parents Happy Baby and midwife Thalia Ramsden spoke on this very topic on The Baby Show Live @ Home's first #wednesdaywellness Instagram Live chat. Read their advice below…

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Are pregnant women at risk of contracting coronavirus?

Will says: "Because it’s a relatively new virus, there isn’t much evidence about the effects it can have on pregnant women, so it’s more of a precaution for people to keep a safe distance. People are different and some have stronger immune systems, so it’s best to be careful." He adds: "To date, there is no evidence that COVID-19 increases the risk of miscarriage. Based on previous viruses, the chance of having more severe symptoms are higher after 28 weeks of pregnancy."

Can I have my pregnancy scan during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Will says: "Most hospitals aren’t allowing birthing partners to be present at scans since the outbreak of COVID-19, however, hospitals do vary in their rules so check with them prior to your appointment.

"Another thing that hospitals are trying to do is to consolidate appointments where they can. So, if they can double up scans with check-up appointments or similar, this will reduce the amount of visits people are making to the hospital. Also, virtual appointments are beginning to rise between midwives and patients during the pandemic to keep hospital attendance to a minimum where they can."

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Are birthing partners allowed at the birth?

Will and Thalia explain: "This is something that they are pushing for, as having your birthing partner present can be extremely beneficial for the wellbeing of the women during birth. However, it is recommended that when planning your birth, you have a plan B as to who will be your birthing partner - just on the off chance that your chosen birthing partner should contract symptoms of COVID-19, or any sort of illness, it is recommended that you have a back-up plan.

Should I have a home birth instead?

"Home birthing has increased since the rise of COVID-19, but if you weren’t set on home birth in the first place, then we advise that you don’t change your plans. When giving birth there would normally be two midwives on hand, so having a home birth would mean both of them having to be out of the hospital at a time."

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What about my birth plan?

"Don’t change your birth plan due to COVID-19," says Will. "Remember, if you were pregnant before the virus took over, then you should keep on as intended - especially for your own wellbeing. Have discussions with your trust."

"If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you will still be looked after by your trust just the same as normal, you would just need to call ahead before appointments so that you can be met at the front door and taken in a different entrance, rather than risk infecting anyone else."

How can I relax in my pregnancy during the coronavirus pandemic?

Will suggests: "Get involved with hypnobirthing and mindfulness if you can. Try and go for a walk once a day, but if this isn’t possible, open a window so that you can get some fresh air in. Although we are living in a very strange and uncertain time, you need to keep positive and excited about the birth of your new baby."

Can I still breastfeed during the coronavirus outbreak?

"Yes of course," says Thalia, "Just make sure you keep sanitised and wash your hands more. Also, avoid coughing or sneezing near the baby whilst breastfeeding."

The Baby Show Live @ Home will be taking place every Wednesday at 7:30pm