Pregnancy in the Time of Covid-19

Dear Patients and Friends,

I know that a lot of you are worried about the wellbeing of the baby you are carrying and yourself at this time. Many of you have reached out to me in the recent weeks with your concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on your pregnancy or on your journey to becoming pregnant: Can your baby (foetus) get Covid-19 if you have it? What are the risks to your baby if you are infected? Should you continue with fertility treat-ment during this pandemic? And so on…

As a doctor, I understand the need for answers. In my profession, I am trained to look at the evidence when dealing with a patient and to in-form my decisions. So, I find knowledge comforting in times of uncer-tainty. The challenge with a newly discovered virus is that it is impossi-ble to obtain credible and conclusive data that is constructive, medically. Preliminary findings that surface while dealing with a contagion in real time are generally considered unreliable because it so often changes from one day to the next.

What we know so far is:

• There is no evidence that pregnant women are at an increased risk of having Covid-19. However, there is concern over changes in the immune system during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.

• Being pregnant doesn’t increase women’s risk of developing se-vere symptoms. Most pregnant women who are infected will ex-perience between mild and moderate symptoms, just like every-one. Some may have more severe symptoms like breathing diffi-culties and therefore, need to be monitored closely.

• While there are reports circulating of risk of pre-term labour and other complications, there is not enough data to confirm this.

• Transmission of the virus from mother to baby, though probable, cannot be determined. There have been cases of newborns in-fected with the virus but it is unclear whether these babies were infected in the womb or during or after birth.

While the lack of verifiable data can be disconcerting, take comfort that we have enough information to fight this virus. If you are concerned about the impact of the virus on your pregnancy, my advice is don’t worry about what may happen. Instead, focus on what you can do to prevent contracting the virus. Do not compromise on taking the follow-ing precautionary measures, however extreme it may seem to you:

Wash Your Hands
Washing with good old soap and water destroys the virus. Sanitisers work too when washing facilities are not available, but it is best to lather up with soap and water as much as possible.

  1. Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face
    This reduces the possibility of transmission if you have unknowingly touched an object or surface covered with the virus.
  2. Stay at Home
    As an added precaution, pregnant women should especially avoid going out at this time. Other than doctor’s appointments, try to stay at home.
  3. Social Distancing
    Maintain a distance of 1 – 2 metres from others as asymptomatic people can unknowingly transmit the virus. Family members in charge of buy-ing groceries or food should wash up and change into clean clothes im-mediately upon reaching home.
  4. Disinfect Your Groceries and Supplies
    Husbands or family members should help to disinfect groceries and supplies once they return from the store. If you are not sure what to do, this video by Dr Jeffrey VanWingen is a good guide to fol-low: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmoBI5m2_uw&list=WL&index=224&t=206s
  5. Wear a Mask
    There has been a lot of debate about whether we should use a mask when we are out. My advice is to wear a mask. It is an added defence against virus transmission. A 3-ply or an N95 mask is preferred; other-wise any face mask is an acceptable alternative.

I know that many of you have had a tough journey to become preg-nant. What is going on now may feel unfair after all the struggles you have gone through. Take comfort in the fact that we have the power to be steps ahead of this if we follow the precautionary measures.

As for fertility treatments, my advice to patients who are in the middle of a fertility cycle is to freeze your eggs or embryo and do the implanta-tion when the dust settles. If you would like to discuss your options at this time, please do get in touch with me and I will walk you through it.

As always, I am here for you throughout your journey to becoming par-ents. Please feel free to contact me with any of your concerns and I will do my best to help guide you in this trying time.

Take care and keep yourself and each other safe.

– Dr Navdeep Singh Pannu

Dr Navdeep Singh Pannu can be contacted at 03-62871209/03-62871000 (Thomson Hospital, Kota Damansara), at 03-8076 7111 (TMC Fertility Puchong) or email ask@drnavdeepfertility.com

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