The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult and traumatic for people across the world, but there is one group of people in particular who are especially vulnerable to the far-reaching effects of the virus: pregnant women.
From being placed in a vulnerable group in regards to the virus, to having partners banned from antenatal appointments, pregnant women are not only faced with the physical threat of COVID-19, but also its mental and emotional strains. Unfortunately, the effects of the pandemic are so pervasive that women are actually putting off becoming pregnant, according to a new study.
COVID-19 Pregnancy Stress And Anxiety
The research shows that nearly 20% of women say they’re uncertain of their plans to conceive, while 38% are intentionally putting off conceiving during the pandemic due to the anxiety and stress that they believe they are likely to experience, or are already experiencing.
Negative emotions are likely to run high amongst pregnant women or those trying to conceive during this time due to:
- Being placed in a vulnerable category – Almost immediately after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pregnant women were placed in a category of vulnerability and asked to take extra precautions such as avoiding public transport and physical contact with others.
- Fearing ill health for themselves or their child – There is still much that is unknown about the COVID-19 virus, as well as an abundance of misinformation readily available on the internet. With that in mind, many mothers-to-be may fear that they, or their baby, will be physically affected by the virus.
- Being forced to attend antenatal appointments and give birth alone – Fluctuating lockdown rules across the country mean that women have had to attend antenatal appointments alone and, in some circumstances, be without their partners during parts of the birth.
- Lack of resource in hospitals – Those who are planning to have their baby at a hospital, especially a public hospital, may be worried about the lack of space or availability of medical help during the pandemic. They may also worry about the possibility of catching COVID-19 in a hospital environment.
Are Pregnant Women More Vulnerable To COVID-19?
As mentioned above, some women may be too ‘put off’ by the health repercussions of COVID-19 to try to conceive. Unfortunately, due to the novel nature of the virus, there is conflicting evidence about whether COVID-19 is a greater threat to pregnant women. A study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalised and are at increased risk of requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission than non-pregnant women.
However, a report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) states that ‘there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus’ and data collected by the University of Oxford asserts that 1 in 10 pregnant patients required intensive care after contracting COVID-19, suggesting that ‘pregnant women are at no greater risk of severe illness than the non-pregnant population’.
There are factors that are more likely to put women at risk of complications due to COVID-19:
- Being from a black or minority ethnic background
- Having a pre-existing medical condition
- Age (older women have an increased risk of hospitalisation after contracting the virus)
Dr Albert Aka, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Gynae Centre explains: “The fact is that most women have had normal pregnancies and births during the pandemic. As with any pregnancy, it is important to discuss your medical history and general health with your consultant and attend regular check-ups to ensure that you and your baby are as healthy as can be. It is also wise to follow up-to-date Government advice in order to protect yourself against catching the virus.”
How Are Babies Affected By COVID-19?
Throughout the pandemic, children have been placed in a non-vulnerable category. However, that doesn’t stop many pregnant women worrying about their baby’s health.
According to RCOG, evidence suggests that the virus is unlikely to cause developmental problems in children if the mother is infected, nor is there an increased risk of miscarriage. It is also unlikely that transmission from mother to baby occurs during pregnancy or birth, and the institution emphasises that ‘in all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the babies were well.’
Can I Bring My Partner To My Antenatal Appointments During COVID-19?
Government advice is constantly being updated, so it’s important to check and comply with the rules at your hospital or clinic if you are unsure about whether your partner can attend scans and antenatal appointments.
At The Gynae Centre, we advise against bringing a partner or friend to your appointment unless they are acting as your translator. However, you will be well supported by our team while you’re attending your appointment with us, and we can certainly offer video calls if you would prefer your partner to be present when receiving information.
Will I Be Safe When Visiting Hospitals Or Clinics During The Pandemic?
Most hospitals and clinics have new protocols in place to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including thorough cleaning, social distancing measures and limiting visitor numbers. Generally speaking, medical environments are safe during the pandemic. However, you should also ensure that you are following rules and recommendations in order to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus.
You can read more about the COVID-19 protocols in place at The Gynae Centre here.
Book An Appointment With Us Today
If you are pregnant or are trying to conceive, we look forward to supporting you during this very special time in your life. Although it may seem like a difficult time in which to have a child, we can assure you that there are many women around the world who have experienced a normal pregnancy and given birth to a healthy baby during the pandemic.
To book an appointment with one of our renowned consultant gynaecologists, click here.