Pregnant women should have priority in receiving the COVID-19 test, and if infected, take precautions when breastfeeding their babies. Experts recommend that they protect themselves, noting that so far there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk or amniotic fluid.
So far, there is no evidence that pregnant women are at greater risk of severe coronavirus disease than the general population, although the transformations their bodies and immune systems undergo are a risk factor for respiratory infections, says the World Health Organization.
For this reason, it considers it important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19 and inform medical personnel of any symptoms.
The organization says there is also no evidence that a woman can transmit the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery, and that so far the microorganism has not been detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
Medical Care in Childbirth and Breastfeeding
All pregnant women, even when they are suspected or confirmed to have VIDOC-19, are entitled to high quality care before, during and after delivery. This includes prenatal, neonatal, postnatal, intrapartum and mental health care.
A safe and positive birth experience is involved:
- Being treated with respect and dignity
- Be accompanied by a person of your choice during delivery
- Clear communication of maternity service staff
- Appropriate pain relief strategies
- Mobility in labour, if possible, and choice of birth position
According to the Organization, if the pregnant woman is suspected or has been confirmed to have the coronavirus, health workers should take all appropriate precautions to reduce their risk of infection and that of others, including hand hygiene and the use of protective clothing such as gloves, gowns and a medical mask.
Even an infected woman can still breastfeed and care for her baby, but she should take the following precautions:
- Have good respiratory hygiene while breastfeeding your baby, using a mask if available
- Wash your hands before and after touching the baby
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched
How to protect yourself from the coronavirus?
– Frequent hand washing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
– Keeping a physical distance from other people, and avoiding crowded places.
– Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
– By having good respiratory hygiene. It means covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. The used handkerchief should be disposed of immediately.
The Organization reminds you that if you have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical assistance, but before coming to the center you should call and follow the instructions of your local medical authority.
Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, including those affected by COVID-19, should keep their routine medical appointments, and not be suspended because of the pandemic.
WHO has asked countries to give priority to pregnant women with symptoms for testing for the virus.
It has also indicated that it will continue to review and update the information and guidance it provides as more data become available.