Virus transmission low during pregnancy

THE risk of Covid-19 infection is the same for pregnant women. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/JANCO FERLIC

There is little chance that Covid-positive mothers can transmit the virus during pregnancy.

Thus said Dr. Sybil Lizanne Bravo, OB-Gyne and Clinical Associate at the UP College of Medicine, in a recent LagiPublic Briefing facilitated by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“There is a chance but, in our experience, it is very small, only less than 3 percent,” she stressed. “That’s why we say that if the mother (is infected) and she is pregnant, there are complications, such as there will be a higher chance that she will give birth earlier.”

Bravo said there is also a chance the baby may be smaller than those of women who have not had Covid-19. There is also a relatively small chance that they might undergo a caesarean section or C-section compared to pregnant women without Covid-19.

“In my experience, and also in other hospitals, we support rooming-in. Because mothers, after giving birth, prefer to have the baby next to them, even if the mother is Covid-19-positive. We do room-in; have the baby after delivery laid next to the mother to promote continuous bonding. We support breastfeeding as long as she maintains hygienic practices,” Bravo added. “You need to be masked, always wash your hands and, of course, the breast area should be clean.”

Studies suggest that mothers can pass antibodies through breast milk so the baby will be healthy.

“During pregnancy, if the mother has a Covid-19 infection and she will not give birth soon, she will develop antibodies against Covid-19 infection. It can then be transferred through the placenta and through blood to the baby,” she said. “These are what you call protective antibodies. Bonding and, of course, breastfeeding have benefits even for Covid-positive mothers.

Bravo also refutes conjectures about pregnant women being more susceptible to coronavirus infection.

“The risk of Covid infection is the same for pregnant women as in the non-pregnant population, including males and children,” Bravo said.

According to peer analyses and experience, when a pregnant woman has Covid-19 infection, it can be more severe in that there are more complications. Bravo urges pregnant women to be more careful and refrain from making unnecessary runs outside the house or, if it’s unavoidable, always practice hygienic measures.

But what is the current trend in hospitals when a pregnant woman is about to give birth, especially those with emergency cases, such as pre-term labor or C-section?

Bravo said pregnant women need a Covid-19 swab test when they are about to give birth.

“This is really a strict requirement because we know that it is not only a protection for the pregnant woman and her family, but also a protection for the healthcare workers who will assist her in her delivery in the hospital,” she said. “What is happening now — and this is our system — is that, if you are asymptomatic and do not have respiratory syndrome by the time you are in labor, you may be admitted to non-Covid-19 delivery rooms and labor rooms.”

She added: “If your PCR swab test has expired, you can repeat it on admission to the emergency room. There are tests now that come out within less than 12 hours to 24 hours. If, however, you turn out to be positive, you will actually give birth in the ‘Covid Ward’. But it is safe, we are all following strict rules, of course, with regard to Covid prevention and health protocols.”

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