Usually we focus on Post-Natal health at HPNB, we have written about the post-natal immune system before and it’s also been extensively covered in the podcast.
However we have had some questions from women who are currently pregnant who are concerned about Covid-19 and there is a lot of contrasting information out there so I thought we’d try our best to clear things up a little bit.
Let me put in a caveat that the situation with Covid-19 and pregnancy is rather fluid. This is because the virus is, relatively, new and the effects on people, especially pregnant women, are not yet fully understood.
Here’s what we know as of today (12-11-2020)
As you are probably already aware; Different countries have a different approach when it comes to dealing with Covid-19. This reflects the varying opinions on how to best manage/fight the virus. The approach in Korea, Taiwan and Australia, for instance, is completely different from the one in the UK or USA. Even within Europe the medical community can’t come to a consensus as to the most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease, just think of the Swedish approach compared to the rest of Europe. We, at HPNB, have no interest in saying who is right and who is wrong. We are also not pandemic specialists or virologists. This article is only about the potential impact the virus has on pregnant women and the steps you can take to increase your chances of staying safe and healthy.
The current advice in the UK is that “There is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus but they are included in the “clinically vulnerable” list as a precaution.“. That bit taken from the BBC website is the same advice as given on the NHS website. In the US they take a different line as reported in this NY Times article” and this article from science magazine.
I always err on the side of caution, and tend to followthe “this makes sense” approach when it comes to conflicting information so I lean towards finding the second lot more credible. Having spoken to several doctors, who are pregnant or post-natal, on the subject they state that they also lean towards the second lot. This is not to say the NHS is incorrect, it just means we’re not going to be messing about when it comes to your health.
I have written about the pre- and post-natal immune system before, you can find the blogs here. As stated at the time, there is a theory that the immune system is slightly surpressed during the pregnancy. Other research shows that actually the immune system is in a “state of flux” and constantly changing during pregnancy. As I mentioned in the blog however, nobody REALLY knows what’s happening. What we do know is that the pre- and post-natal immune system is not the same as the immune system of someone who is not, or has not recently been, pregnant.
This comprehensive study shows that pregnant women do face increased risks from Covid-19. This is what I mentioned, with regards to post-natal women, in the podcast of 22-03-20 and the Covid-19 podcast I did later in October. This makes perfect sense for most women who have had kids already. How many sniffles and bugs do you pick up? Is that just because you’re around the little germ machines all the time or, especially when you’re “newly” post-natal, is it because you’re a bit more susceptible to the symptoms of what’s doing the rounds?
Catching Covid-19 does not happen because you’re pregnant or recently post-natal. In the same way that you’re not more likely to catch it because you’re black or mixed ethnicity. Catching it happens because you come into contact with somebody who has the virus. And herein lies the solution.
If you do happen to catch Covid-19 you are still most likely to be absolutely fine if you are a healthy woman with no major underlying health issues. It’s important to remember that “an increased chance” of severe symptoms in itself doesn’t mean anything. The study concludes pregnant women are 3x more likely to have severe symptoms but that is still from a fairly low starting point. It just means you want to be a bit more careful, which is always sound advice anyways.
This much we do think we know at the moment. I am putting the caveat of “think we know” in there because there are always new studies coming out but it seems VERY unlikely that you can pass Covid-19 on to your unborn child if you do catch it whilst being pregnant.
First of all, and I can’t emphasise this enough, take this seriously. Not just because you’re pregnant but because Covid-19 is a serious problem. Stick to all the sensible guidelines; Wash your hands, wear a mask and don’t go to busy places where you can’t practice social distancing.
I always tell all my clients this as well but “Dump your crazy friend” (for now). We all have one, that one friend who is soo much fun to be around and who never seems to take anything seriously. The 40 year old acting like they’re still 21. Sure they’re the life of the party but they never wash their hands. This is not the time to start hanging out with the maniacs, hang out with your nice boring friends. It’s not as exciting but they’re less likely to kill you 🙂
Keep exercising. Your health, as always, really…REALLY matters. If you’re fit as a fiddle you have a better chance of a better recovery if you catch Covid. The same goes for your diet, eat your veggies!
I am glad the gyms are open but you have to be out of your mind to go to a gym if you’re pregnant right now. The same goes for those of you who have given birth in the past few months. My gym is currently mainly frequented by 18-29 year old guys and those are, generally speaking, not the most risk averse people out there. There are a tonne of home exercise options available to you, HPNB of course being one of them. If you can pause your gym membership this can pay for a weekly personal training session outside or in the comfort of your own home. You can invest in a pre- or post-natal exercise program with the money you safe by not having a gym-membership.
“Is the Covid vaccine safe?” is a question I get asked a lot. My, absolutely honest, answer is “probably”. I am not a vaccine expert and defer to sensible people/experts on this. If the experts tell me pregnant women should take this in the same way that they get the flu-vaccine and that it’s completely safe then I tend to listen. Having said that I am not particularly keen on getting shots and don’t get a flu vaccine every year so I’ll probably skip this one unless someone comes with a strong reason as to why I should get one. (Answers in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org )
If there’s a question you have after reading this blog then please get in touch. We are always happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
Take care of yourself,
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