There is no evidence at this stage of the impact of COVID-19 on fertility treatment and little is known about the effect of COVID-19 in pregnancy.
However, the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists statement on this topic is the best authoritative resource. The full statement can be found at RANZCOG. An outline of their statement is contained below in italics:
1. Are pregnant women at increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19? Pregnant women should be considered a vulnerable or at-risk group.
2. Are pregnant women at increased risk of developing severe disease/complications from COVID-19? Currently, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected that most 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 the medical response to the SARS epidemic in 2003. Influenza is a potentially serious disease for pregnant women, the fetus and newborn babies. Several 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.
3. Is there an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19? 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.
4. Can I transmit the virus to my baby while I am pregnant? There is no evidence that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (this is called vertical transmission) or that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.
5. Can I still give birth in a hospital if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection? It is difficult to say if there will be access to hospitals for birthing, depending upon what is happening with COVID-19. It is important to emphasise that a woman’s experience of labour and vaginal birth, or caesarean section, should not be significantly impacted and women should be encouraged, and supported, to approach this extraordinary time of their lives without fear or apprehension. Medical intervention, other than that specifically related to infection control, should not differ significantly from usual practice. Active mobilisation, use of water immersion in labour, nitrous oxide and epidural analgesia are not affected.
6. Do I need to have a caesarean section or interventional birth to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to my baby? There is no evidence that caesarean section or induction of labour is necessary to reduce the risk of vertical transmission. If a woman has COVID-19 infection, or has had significant exposure,unless there are immediate risks to her health, or other obstetric indications, elective caesarean section or induction of labour should be delayed, if possible.
7. What are the risks to my baby if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection? Some babies born to women with symptoms of COVID-19 in China have been born prematurely. It is unclear whether coronavirus was the causative factor, or the doctors made the decision for the baby to be born early because the woman was unwell. Newborn babies and infants do not appear to be at increased risk of complications from the infection. It is not possible however, to predict if there will be short, medium- or long-term implications from exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
8. Can I still go for my routine antenatal check-ups and tests, and receive antenatal vaccinations if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection? Routine antenatal investigations, ultrasounds, maternal and fetal assessments should continue as before, allowing for the modifications suggested below.
While it will not influence response to COVID-19 infection, routine whooping cough and influenza vaccination should continue to be administered in pregnancy.
The FSA has also provided an FAQ for patients who are concerned about having a pregnancy at this time. Read their FAQs.