Pregnancy can be an anxious time for mums-to-be and the current situation in Ireland is not making it any easier. Growing your little one inside you should be a wonderful experience. We applaud those who are going through what should be such a special time, during these uncertain times.
Pregnant people are considered ‘high-risk’ during this pandemic. This is because your immune system weakens naturally during pregnancy, meaning you can pick up infections more easily. Also, just like the common flu, a fever or high temperature is a symptom of coronavirus. This can increase the risk of complications during the first trimester of pregnancy, so you should contact your GP if you have a fever.
The good news for mums-to-be is that if you contract coronavirus, the HSE has given us a very clear picture of how your experience will look, before, during and after the birth of your baby.
If you have coronavirus, the professionals looking after you should keep you updated on any decisions they are making about your delivery. Your midwife or doctor will inform you of the safest time and way for baby to be born. Along with your doctor and midwife, other experts may be involved in your care, such as an infectious diseases specialist and a neonatologist (someone who specialises in the care of newborns).
During labour, you will be in an isolation room where you may need to stay during your time in the hospital. The most important thing is that you will not be alone. Current guidelines for delivery indicate that you will have a midwife or a doctor with you while giving birth. You can also have one other person - your birthing partner - with you during labour and delivery. This person will be all decked out in protective equipment to stop the spread of infection. You won’t have to wear a facemask during this time but you will need one when you venture outside your delivery room. However, some hospitals are not letting any dads-to-be visit so double check with your own hospital in the weeks before your due date.
Your midwife or doctor will chat to you about the different options after the baby is born. To prevent baby from catching the virus, mums will have the option to arrange for a family member or healthcare worker to care for the baby until the virus has passed. Depending on your symptoms and test results, this could be at home or in the hospital.
New mothers with coronavirus can choose to care for their baby themselves. Your doctor will explain the risks involved in this and you and your little one will be isolated in a single room. Baby will be enclosed in an incubator beside you. An incubator is a see-through plastic cot that keeps baby warm.
According to the HSE, breastfeeding is possible for coronavirus-positive mums, but you must wear protective gear while you feed such as a gown and a facemask. You can also choose to pump so that dad or someone else can feed your baby. Whether you chose to feed baby yourself or express, your midwife will give you guidance on hygiene, such as how to clean your pump etc. As always, you should wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching or interacting with your baby.
Your healthcare team will monitor your baby for any signs of infection. They will also advise you on visitor access while you are in hospital.
If you need any more info on pregnancy and coronavirus, make sure you visit HSE.ie. Keep safe and positive during your pregnancy in the knowledge that you will receive the best advice and care from our hard-working healthcare professionals who are navigating the current pandemic.