It’s normal for parents-to-be to worry about their unborn child’s well-being. During a worldwide pandemic, those anxieties may kick up a notch (or several). Concern about contracting or spreading COVID-19 during pregnancy is common; rest assured you are not alone in feeling this way.

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The recent rapid spread of a new COVID-19 strain called Omicron is quite concerning. As of late 2020, the Delta version of COVID-19 had already spread across the globe from its initial discovery in India. Prior to the rise of Omicron, it had the position of greatest influence.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant is the newest dangerous strain. On November 24, 2021, Omicron was officially reported to the WHO for the first time. On November 11, 2021, the virus was discovered in Botswana, and on November 14, it was found in South Africa.

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The United States SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG) designated Omicron as a Variant of Concern the following week (VOC). The identification of Omicron-attributable cases in several countries and the spread and replacement of the Delta variation in South Africa formed the basis for this categorization. In the United States, the earliest date for a confirmed case of Omicron was December 1, 2021.

Since the discovery of Omicron, the medical community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have learned a great deal more about the variant. In most cases, Omicron will result in milder symptoms and a shorter lifespan for the infected. The BA.5 strain of Omicron has become the most common in the USA as of September 2022. It accounts for over 87% of all occurrences.

Is the Omicron Variant Dangerous?

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Even if a person infected with the Omicron form gets vaccinated or shows no symptoms, experts say they can still transfer it to others.

Data suggests that the Omicron variant produces less severe symptoms than the Delta version. Whether the Omicron form of COVID-19 causes more severe illness in pregnant women is currently unknown. Currently, there is no evidence that the Omicron form is any more dangerous to pregnant women than prior variants.

In what ways do pregnant women put their unborn children in danger?

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Since COVID-19 emerged in late 2019, scientists have studied its influence on diverse groups, including pregnant women.

Getting COVID-19 when pregnant is risky and potentially fatal because of the immunological suppression that occurs during pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to have life-threatening symptoms from the virus than those who are not pregnant. 

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Women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy had an increased risk of both premature delivery (before 37 weeks) and stillbirth, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can also be at a higher risk for additional difficulties during pregnancy.

Stillbirths, gestational diabetes, premature labor, placenta previa, placental abruption, blood clots, respiratory problems, and cesarean sections are all more common in women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy. More study is needed to see if the Omicron variation increases the risk of serious pregnancy problems.

Pregnancy-Related Omicron Symptoms

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Omicron symptoms are similar to those of other COVID-19 variations, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and “flu-like” symptoms like weariness, headache, and muscular aches. Omicron may cause less frequently experienced loss of taste or smell and more frequently experienced upper respiratory symptoms (such as a sore throat).

Those experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms should be evaluated for suspected COVID-19 infection.

Protective Vaccines Against the Omicron Variant

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The time to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine is now if you have been considering it. The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Women’s Health Information Center all agree that women of childbearing age and those planning to become pregnant should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Research confirms the vaccination is safe for use and offers protection to both the mother and the child via the antibodies she produces.

Can the Omicron Variant Be Prevented with Vaccines?

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The time to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine is now if you have been considering it. All reputable women’s healthcare organizations advise that COVID-19 vaccinations be given to women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. Medical research confirms the vaccine is safe and provides immunity to both the mother and the child.

What I can do to shield myself and my unborn child against omicron exposure?

Important first step: get immunized. Also, think about getting a booster shot if you’ve already been immunized. To be vaccinated and free of COVID-19 symptoms, avoid large gatherings or circumstances where masking and social distancing are not possible, and use a face mask if you must be indoors, and in close contact with people you do not know.

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Vaccines are resistant to COVID-19 but not immune to it, so even if everyone in your family has been vaccinated, a single unvaccinated member can transfer the virus to anybody else, including a pregnant woman. Even if everyone in your household has been vaccinated, a single unvaccinated member can spread the virus to anyone, including a pregnant woman.

The CDC’s hygiene recommendations from the beginning of the EV-D19 pandemic remain unchanged. If you don’t have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid putting dirty hands anywhere near your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.

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You can help prevent a potentially dangerous condition and calm your pregnant anxieties by being cautious and adopting these basic lifestyle behaviors. In comparison to earlier COVID-19 versions, the Omicron variant is more easily transmitted from person to person. Its symptoms are similar to other variants, but they aren’t as severe for most people.

Women who are immunocompromised during pregnancy should make special efforts to prevent catching the Omicron form. If you haven’t already, get a booster shot. Discuss your worries about getting the COVID-19 vaccine or booster while pregnant with your doctor.

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