Pregnant women should attend antenatal appointments as normal despite warnings that they should be shielded from the coronavirus, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have said in a joint statement.
According to the colleges, there is currently no new evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from COVID-19 than other healthy individuals, or that they can pass the infection to their baby while pregnant. They say that the Government’s warning is purely a precautionary measure, to reduce the theoretical risk to the baby's growth and a risk of preterm birth should the mother become unwell.
‘We understand this must be an unsettling time for pregnant women, but we would like to emphasise that attending antenatal and postnatal care when you are pregnant and have a new baby is essential to ensure the wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies, and we would urge all pregnant women who are well to attend their care as normal,’ said Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives.
‘If you are pregnant and have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should call to defer routine visits until after the isolation period is over.’
Pregnant women, along with other at-risk groups including the over-70s and younger people with underlying conditions, roughly equivalent to those offered the annual flu jab by their GP,are being advised to stay at home for 12 weeks.
‘It's right that as we gain a better understanding of this virus, we continually review and update the evidence,’ said Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
‘We know this is a difficult time for many people, not least worried parents. While guidance for pregnant women has been updated, it remains the same for new mums and babies. We don't want to see the mother and baby separated, even when the mother tests positive for coronavirus. Similarly, our advice is that it's fine to breastfeed – any potential risks are outweighed by the benefits. We will continue to review the evidence as it emerges.’