Professional bodies’ response to government advice for pregnant women to self-isolate
Following the new measures outlined by the Prime Minister yesterday, particularly those suggesting that pregnant women self-isolate, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are working to reassure pregnant women and those who care for them.
The three Royal Colleges, who between them care for and support women and their babies throughout pregnancy, birth and childhood, reiterate that there is currently no new evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) than other healthy individuals, or that they can pass the infection to their baby while pregnant. Yesterday's announcement 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.
Mr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
"We welcome this precautionary approach as COVID-19 is a new virus, but would like to reassure pregnant women that, as things stand, no new evidence has come to light suggesting they are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell compared with other healthy individuals. Research and data are key to monitoring the ongoing situation and the UK Obstetric Surveillance System – UKOSS – will monitor all cases of pregnant women who have a diagnosis of coronavirus.
"Pregnant women who can work from home should do so. If you can't work from home, if you work in a public-facing role that can be modified appropriately to minimise your exposure, this should be considered and discussed with your occupational health team. We await more detailed guidance from the Government about what modifications should be made for pregnant women who cannot work from home."
Gill Walton, CEO of the Royal College of Midwives, said:
"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. 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."
Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
"It's right that as we gain a better understanding of this virus, we continually review and update the evidence. 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."
We will update our guidance as soon as possible.
Notes to editors:
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COVID-19 Virus Infection and Pregnancy, Information for Healthcare Professionals - read the guidance and Q&As for pregnant women and their families on the RCOG website – the guidance & Q&As are currently being updated to reflect the policy announcement made by the UK Government on Monday 16 March.
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