There has been a lot of fear in the community about conceiving doing the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
I am pleased to advise as a specialist obstetrician doctor that I consider it is safe to conceive and embark on that very wanted pregnancy.
Each day there is “only a handful” (to quote the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian) of new COVID-19 cases despite increase testing, which is now over 5000 swabs per day. That means the likelihood of becoming infected is extremely low.
Check out the number of cases in your suburb at the NSW Government ‘heat map’ (1). In Castle Hill, these have been 3 cases with 2 having recovered. In Baulkham Hills, there have been 15 cases with 9 recovered.
The Government is now starting to relax the lockdown measures and restart schools, industries and businesses, socialising, etc in the community. So, if the Government is confident so should you be.
The NSW Health graph below shows the incidence of confirmed cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic.
The tail of the incidence of new cases is likely to continue for many months. Do not be alarmed by this, as the incidence is extremely low. If you defer conceiving until there are absolutely no new cases, you will be waiting a long, long time to have a baby.
The Federal and NSW Governments have done excellent work in containing the spread and will continue to do excellent work to minimise the likelihood of a second wave of new COVID-19 cases.
I hope there is a COVID-19 vaccine developed, but this may not happen. We still do not have a vaccine against the common cold despite scientists hunting for a cure for the common cold since the 1950s. So, if you wait until there is a COVID-19 vaccine you may never have a baby.
RANZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists) advises (2): “pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected that the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms.”
“However, detailed information regarding the impact of COVID-19 infection on pregnant women and their babies is limited by the recency of the disease emergence. Therefore, our pregnancy advice is based on learnings from influenza infection, and also the medical response to the SARS epidemic in 2003. Influenza is a potentially serious disease for pregnant women, the fetus and newborn babies. A number of changes occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy. These changes include reduced lung function, increased cardiac output, increased oxygen consumption, and changes to the immune system. Due to these changes, pregnant women have an increased risk of severe complications from influenza.”
Just as a minority of women are extremely unwell with influenza, a minority of women will be extremely unwell with a COVID-19 infection. As we move into winter, the likelihood of getting influenza is greater than of getting a COVID-19 infection. I strongly advise you should be vaccinated against influenza, to minimise this risk. While the risk of influenza infection is considerably reduced by having a flu vaccination it will not be eliminated. Women will not hesitate to get pregnant during the flu season. So logically you should not hesitate to get pregnant because there are a handful of new COVID-19 cases reported each day.
I am aware of very few (less than a handful) of women in Australia giving birth while COVID-19 positive. In these cases, ‘mothers and babies’ have both done well.
RAZCOG also reports: “For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19.”
and: “There have been a handful of very recent case reports suggesting that the virus may pass from the mother to the baby (vertical transmission). However, this is very early, preliminary data and has not been confirmed. There was no evidence of harm to the babies. Women should remain reassured, given our extensive knowledge of the impact of the effect of other respiratory viruses, that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 will harm your baby or cause abnormalities.’ So, in the very unlikely event, you are infected, the baby should be ok.
So, if you have been deferring getting pregnant, I suggest you start trying. Do not worry about COVID-19. Continue to abide by the Federal Government COVID-19 guidelines.