10 things pregnant women might be wondering about about giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic

During this time of uncertainty, many pregnant women, new parents and parents-to-be are feeling a bit in the dark about the coronavirus and the effects it could have on themselves and their babies.

To help answer questions for those expectant families, Obstetrician Dr Will Dooley and midwife Thalia Ramsden have shared advice on how the coronavirus may affect your pregnancy and birth.

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Because coronavirus is relatively new, 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 and follow the government guidelines. To date, there hasn’t been many pregnant women reported as contracting the virus.

Can I infect my baby while pregnant?

It is unlikely that babies can develop the coronavirus whilst you are pregnant as it can’t get through the placenta. Newborns can get it, but, to date, they have dealt with it well and have not been affected too much.

Is there a higher risk of miscarriage?

There is no evidence that Covid-19 increases the risk of miscarriage, but, based on previous viruses, the chance of having more severe symptoms are higher after 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Can I still go to pregnancy scan appointments?

Most hospitals aren’t allowing birthing partners to be present since the outbreak of coronavirus. 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 regular check-up appointments or similar, they may.

This will reduce the number of visits people are making to hospitals, especially as they are so busy during this pandemic. Also, virtual appointment numbers are beginning to rise between midwives and patients, in order to keep hospital attendance to a minimum where they can.

Will my birthing partner be able to be present?

Birthing partners being present at the actual birth has been a big concern for pregnant women, and it is something that they are pushing for, as having your birthing partner present can be extremely beneficial for the well-being of a woman while giving birth.

However, it is recommended that, when planning your birth, you should have a plan B birthing partner, just on the off chance that your chosen birthing partner should contract symptoms of coronavirus, or any sort of illness. Always have a back-up plan.

What about home birthing?

Home birthing has increased since the rise of coronavirus, as people fear that hospitals won’t be able to give them the full attention they need. 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 away from the hospital at the same time.

Also, if there are any complications during the birth and the patient needs to be taken to hospital, it would make sense for them to be there in the first place so that the staff can be on hand for both yourself and other patients needing attention. But again, do check with your trust before you make any decisions.

Do I need to change my birth plans?

Don’t change your birthing plan due to the coronavirus pandemic. Remember, if you were pregnant before the virus took over, then you should keep on as intended, especially for your own well-being, so do speak with your trust.

What do I do if I have Covid-19 symptoms

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 collected at the front door and taken in through a different entrance, rather than the risk of infecting anyone else.

Can I still breastfeed?

People ask a lot if breastfeeding is still permitted, and the answer is yes, of course. Just make sure you keep sanitised and wash your hands more often. Also, avoid coughing or sneezing near your baby whilst breastfeeding.

How can I prepare for giving birth?

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 for the birth of your new baby.

More online tips

To help new and expectant parents feel a little less anxious during this time, the leading and largest baby show has launched The Baby Show Live @ Home - a series of digital events to enable our community to provide advice parents need for the arrival of their little one.

Starting with #WednesdayWellness, each Wednesday evening one of The Baby Show’s renowned experts will be going live on Instagram, offering free advice.

Future Instagram live events from The Baby Show include:

8 April 7.30pm – Charlotte Stirling-Reed - SR Nutrition/ Weaning

15 April 7.30pm  - Siobhan Miller - The Positive Birth Company

22 April 7.30pm - Dr Joanna Helcke - ZestForLife/FitBumpBox