You may have seen in the media the reports that Black, Asian and other ethnic minority (BAME) women who are pregnant are more likely to end up in hospital due to severe infection from COVID-19 compared to white women.
Dr Christine Ekechi, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and media spokesperson on racial equality for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists explains more:
'These findings were based on a large study that looked at the outcomes of more than 400 pregnant women admitted to hospital in the UK. They found that not only BAME women were at greater risk of hospitalisation, but also pregnant women over the age of 35, pregnant women with obesity, and pregnant women with other medical conditions such as hypertension.
'Reassuringly however, the study found that if you are pregnant, you are not at greater risk of getting severe infection with COVID-19 compared to the rest of the population,' says Christine. 'However, it is important for us to note, that over half of the women admitted were from BAME backgrounds.'
So what can we do about this?
'Healthcare professionals have been told to tell women who may be at greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19 of this risk,' exlpains Christine. 'For BAME women this may mean extra appointments with a midwife or specialist obstetrician to make sure that you and your baby continue to be safe during your pregnancy, and this also applies for all women, particularly those who fall into the high risk categories.
'For BAME women I advise you that if you do get COVID-19 and if you do think that your symptoms are not improving quickly or that you’re feeling unwell, or indeed if you have any concerns, to seek help from your midwife or obstetrician as soon as possible.
The NHS wants to ensure that all women are supported and cared for safely throughout their pregnancy
The RCOG vice president and consultant obstetrician, Dr Jo Mountfield adds, 'I would like to stress that it continues to be important that you still attend your antenatal appointments. These appointments are essential to keep you and your baby safe.
'If you think you may have coronavirus, please follow the usual advice of isolate and let your maternity team know. Please do not miss your appointments without talking to your midwife first and let him/her know if you have any concerns. Maternity units are reducing non-essential visits and increasing virtual appointments to avoid women coming into maternity units or going to a community clinic unnecessarily.
'The NHS is making arrangements to ensure that all women are supported and cared for safely throughout pregnancy, birth and the period afterwards during the pandemic, while there is extra pressure on the health service.
'If you are displaying any symptoms when you go into labour, be reassured that your maternity team have been advised on ways to ensure that you and your baby receive safe, quality care, respecting your birth choices as closely as possible.'