Many maternity wards across Australia are adding precautions to keep expectant mothers safe by restricting the number of people who can enter a maternity ward.

As the numbers of those infected by COVID-19 continue to rise, hospitals are choosing to restrict visitors to one support person per pregnant patient.

The Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria has updated their visitor policy stating that:

  • Visitors will be limited to two essential people per in-patient, per day
  • Only parents/guardians of babies in NICU are permitted to visit
  • Children under the age of 16 will not be allowed to visit
  • Visiting hours remain the same

Please check your local hospital for their visitor policy.

 

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The United States has also implemented similar safety precautions to labour wards.

Dr Iffath Hoskins, an Obstetrician at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, says, “Pregnant women are in a high-risk category because their immune system is lower and there are two patents: the mother and the fetus.”

She urged pregnant women to wash their hands often, not touch their face and practice social distancing when going for prenatal visits, ultrasound and lab testing. Also, try to book medical appointments at less busy times and sit at least six feet away from others in the waiting room.

A baby born recently to a mother in the UK with COVID-19 recently tested positive soon after birth but it’s unsure if it was infected in the womb or after birth. Reports indicate the baby is fine and the mother is being treated.

The World Health Organization’s new guidelines state: There is no evidence pregnant women present with different signs or symptoms or are at a higher risk of severe illness. So far, there is no evidence on mother-to-child transmission when infection manifests in the third trimester. WHO recommends that caesarean section should ideally be undertaken only when medically justified.

Advice for pregnant women
Professor Mark Umstad, Director of Maternity Services at the Royal Women’s Hospital, is giving the following advice to pregnant women at this time.

“While there is limited information on the novel coronavirus currently, we do know that pregnant women especially should be vigilant when it comes to reducing the risk of infections,” said Professor Mark Umstad.

“When a woman is pregnant, her immune system changes, making her more susceptible to respiratory infections – which is why it is also important to vaccinate against whooping cough and influenza.”

“Although very little is known about the effects of this coronavirus, a small study of nine pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, found no evidence that the virus leads to severe adverse outcomes for newborn infants, or that it can be passed to the child while in the womb.

“Among the women, who were all late in their pregnancies giving birth by caesarean section, were two cases of fetal distress but all nine babies were delivered alive and tested negative to COVID-19. But we must remember this study is very small and done over a very short period of time.”