Giving Compass' Take:

• Save the Children details the indirect impacts of COVID-19 in mothers and newborns as healthcare systems are overburdened. 

• How can funders act now to ensure that mothers and newborns get the care they need? 

• Read about the COVID-19 risks for pregnant women

The unintended dangerous effects of pandemics on maternal and newborn health are not new.

During the Ebola crisis of 2015-16, more women and girls died of obstetric complications than the infectious disease itself.

For COVID-19, the situation is no different. While some emerging evidence suggests that COVID-19-infected pregnant women may be at higher risk of pre-term birth and that pregnant women with pre-existing conditions may face complications, it appears that healthy pregnant women face few direct adverse effects of the virus. There is also no evidence of vertical mother-to-newborn transmission during pregnancy or via breastfeeding, and the few infants with confirmed COVID-19 have experienced mild illness.

However, Save the Children’s own experiences responding to disease outbreaks in low- and middle-income countries, modeling data and other evidence point to a number of worrying indirect effects the pandemic may have on mothers and newborns. The myriad complications of the COVID-19 pandemic – from overwhelmed health systems to government lockdowns that may restrict a woman’s access to health care, and to families simply being unable to afford transportation to a distant health post because of lost incomes – are conspiring to disrupt maternal and newborn care and jeopardizing hard-won progress in reducing maternal and newborn mortality.

Read the full article about the impact of COVID-19 on mothers and newborns at Save the Children.