ZB

Influx of Covid-infected pregnant women worried their baby isn't moving

Author
Emma Russell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Mar 2022, 8:39pm
(Photo / Getty Images)
(Photo / Getty Images)

Influx of Covid-infected pregnant women worried their baby isn't moving

Author
Emma Russell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Mar 2022, 8:39pm

An Auckland obstetrician says she is seeing an influx of Covid-infected pregnant women turning up at hospital because they are worried they can't feel their baby moving. 

Dr Sarah Corbett told the Herald, like any viral illness, if a pregnant woman was unwell there could be times when their baby doesn't move as much. 

"This seems to be happening with Covid also [...] they experience reduced fetal movement for a day or two and then they get better and their babies are fine," Corbett said. 

However, she encouraged any pregnant women who was experiencing a reduction in fetal movement to contact their midwife and be assessed regardless of their Covid status. 

In the Auckland region, there have been thousands of pregnant women with Covid and hundreds giving birth amid the Omicron outbreak. 

Corbett said Omicron had been quite a different illness than Delta. Across New Zealand and Australia hospitals were not seeing the same severity at all. With Delta there were a lot of pregnant women in ICU, back in August. Now, with Omicron we are not seeing that, she said. 

Auckland obstetrician Sarah Corbett. Photo / Supplied 

She said there had also been a "pervasive fear" among pregnant women that if they got Covid they would have to give birth alone but in most cases that wasn't true. 

"It has been difficult for pregnant women in New Zealand as the rules about support people differ from DHB to DHB, and have changed with different outbreaks. 

"Almost all women in New Zealand giving birth with Covid have had a key support person there for their birth," Corbett said. 

She advised pregnant women who were worried about this to talk to their midwife about the guidelines at their District Health Board. 

While most pregnant women were double vaccinated, Corbett said, there was still a fair bit of booster-hesitancy. 

She said boosters were important to reduce hospitalisation and helped to provide antibodies to the baby to further protect them from severe illness. 

"As always, prevention of Covid infection is best, and having your booster in pregnancy is recommended at any stage of pregnancy and is safe and effective. 

Auckland University researcher Dr Michelle Wise, who is also an obstetrician, said while there had been a lot of talk about upper respiratory symptoms – such as tiredness, fever, chest pain and sore throats – there had been little said about other Covid symptoms they were seeing in pregnant women like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. 

"It can be tricky to try to differentiate and I guess the message is still the same that if you are worried and especially if you feel like you are going into pre-term labour to ring the midwife and get an examination," Wise said. 

She also said it wasn't too late to get the booster and wanted them to know it was safe during pregnancy. 

Overseas research, she said, had shown Covid infections increased risks for pre-eclampsia – a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys – and problems with baby growth. 

However, she said all studies were in the early stages and focused on early strains of Covid not Omicron. 

"It will be interesting to see what comes out of the thousands Omicron cases we have seen." 

New Zealand College of Midwifery advisor Claire MacDonald said they had seen some pregnant women with Covid go into pre-term labour and birth their babies early. 

"Our advice to pregnant women and people is that if they experience abdominal pain during pregnancy, they need to contact their midwife to be assessed, rather than assuming it may be due to Covid," MacDonald said. 

- by Emma Russell, NZ Herald