COVID 19 is a new virus of the SARS group of viruses. Any evidence that we have is therefore very recent and our understanding is still evolving.
Unlike H1N1 and some flu viruses which severely affect pregnant women, the SARS group of viruses have not previously been found to do this.
Initial reports from China also suggested that pregnant women with COVID 19 did not represent a particularly at risk group.
More recent evidence collected by the Centre of Disease Control in the United States and from the UK Obstetric surveillance system finds that Obstetric women are at increased risk of admission to intensive care compared to their age matched non pregnant counterparts. They are more likely to be admitted to intensive care and to be ventillated. Pregnant women are most vulnerable in the third trimester. Other population based risk factors such as maternal age, raised BMI, diabetes and hypertension, also apply in pregnant women.
Pregnant woman are understandably concerned about how COVID 19 might affect their pregnancy and whether or not they are in a high risk group.
Babies are at increased risk of prematurity and growth restriction.
With the success of the vaccination program there has been increased focus on immunizing Pregnant women. This has been approached with caution in the UK. In America and Israel vaccinations have been performed and we now have evidence from over 90,000 women who have been vaccinated whilst pregnant. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been shown to be safe, whilst there is far less available evidence for the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Antibodies produced in response to infection or vaccination cross the placenta and are found in breast milk, potentially offering some protection to the newborn baby.
Recent reports have shown that 5-20 days following the Astra Zeneca and the Jansen vaccine, young women, particularly those below the age of thirty, have an increased risk of a very serious but rare type of blood clot. This is caused by autoantibodies which are stimulated by the vaccine which lead to platelet activation and blood clots. These clots are completely different in their aetiology from other blood clots, it is not thought that pregnant women are at increased risk.
Currently it is suggested that when called for vaccination it might be safest for younger pregnant women to opt for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
We continue to monitor the UK and global data as it emerges and will update this website information accordingly.
The next few months are going to continue to pose some difficult challenges for everyone in healthcare and beyond. The vaccine is only part of the solution and reports of new variants of the virus and surging levels in Continental Europe, South America and India, are a great cause for concern so we must remain vigilant.
Currently, as advised by the government, as a precautionary measure, pregnant women should continue to limit social contact where possible.
We recommend staying away from other peoples children and their parents indoors. Avoid going out to very crowded places. Try and adhere to the 2 metre rule and do not interact closely with others outside the family home. Consider working from home if this is possible. If this is not possible then attempt to stay distant from colleagues at work. Avoid unnecessary hospital appointments, particularly in crowded antenatal clinics.
Please be assured that maternity care is prioritised and we are working round the clock to provide cover to support childbirth and to ensure that you and your baby are safe.
If you would like to make an appointment to discuss a private delivery or private Caesarean, we encourage video or telephone consultations for antenatal visits where possible. Some appointments, requiring a scan, blood tests or examination, will still need to be face to face.
Please feel free to get in touch. Stay safe.