If you’re a mother or expecting, it is only natural to have questions about what is safest for you and your baby during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. With the changing world, there are new rules and regulations that you need to follow. Besides maintaining basic hygiene, pregnant women may need to take extra precautions.
Here are some solutions and tips to stay safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth. Along with that, Dr Sushma Tomar, Infertility Specialist and Endoscopic Surgeon at Fortis Hospital Kalyan answers your often-asked questions about pregnancy and the new coronavirus.
1. What does the coronavirus mean for your pregnancy?
“Pregnant women are at no greater risk of becoming seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they get Coronavirus”, says Dr Tomar. Because there are still so many unknowns about how the coronavirus impacts pregnant women, it’s essential to follow social distancing guidelines.
2. How can pregnant women protect themselves from the coronavirus?
Dr Tomar advises that “all pregnant women should give special attention to social distancing norms, hand hygiene practices and consume a healthy diet that is rich in Iron, Calcium, Vitamin B, C, D3, and Folic Acid. Do light exercise to improve blood flow, and deep breathing exercises to improve lung capacity.”
3. How could the coronavirus impact your birth plan?
Many hospitals and birthing centres have been enacting new measures to keep mothers and babies safe. Every hospital is different, but here are a few changes moms might experience:
- Restrictions on visitors and who is allowed in the delivery room
- Your doctors and nurses will be wearing protective gear
- You may be able to be discharged early if you want to be
- You may not be able to walk around the hallways during labour
“Pregnant women over 35 years of age, those who are overweight, those with Diabetes or Hypertension are high-risk patients and need to be extremely vigilant. Speaking to your doctor on a weekly basis about your progress will be beneficial”, says Dr Tomar.
4. What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 just before giving birth?
Dr Tomar clarifies that “prevention from Coronavirus is the same for pregnant and non-pregnant patients. Pregnant women need more preventive care because both the mother and child are at risk. Mothers-to-be should reduce their visits to the hospital, and rather opt for teleconsultation. If any mild symptoms are experienced, it should immediately be reported to your gynaecologist.”
5. If the mother has COVID-19, will she pass it to her baby?
Dr Tomar shares vital information about this subject. “Social distancing, using masks when going out, and washing hands frequently is an absolute must-do. The birth plan cannot change if you are tested positive for COVID19. Special care has to be taken by the doctors and paramedical staff, so as to use PPE kits, double gloves and eye cover. The newborn should be handed over to the Pediatrician for observation. Breastfeeding is allowed if the mother’s general condition is good, because breast milk does not transmit any infection, But before every breastfeeding session, the breast should be cleaned properly before feeding, to get rid of any infection bearing droplets. The baby could be handed over to relatives if the mother is not able to take the appropriate care in the current times.”
6. How to cope with the anxiety of giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic?
Navigating a pregnancy during the coronavirus pandemic can be quite stressful. Here are some tips on handling your anxiety;
- Keep a routine, stay active, and take breaks from watching the news and going on social media
- Ask your prenatal care provider to answer all your questions about your prenatal and postpartum care visits and what you need to do before you take your newborn for regular checkups
- Your provider may be able to help connect you with a social worker, counsellor, or therapist who offers teletherapy or mental health services online
Dr Tomar says, “If the mother-to-be tests positive before delivery, she should get admitted to a COVID care hospital where all facilities are available, to take care of the mother, handle childbirth and postnatal care. There is a scarce amount of literature available about the virus getting transmitted to the child, but, post-delivery, the child must be kept in the Neonatal Dept. for observation. Regarding anxiety, if women are not pregnant, and are planning their pregnancy, then it is always better to wait for some time until the pandemic tides over. If the patient is pregnant, then they may continue or discontinue their pregnancy after consulting with their doctor.”
7. How can COVID-19 impact a newborn?
“The patient opt for pre-counselling if she is planning for pregnancy. She should know that will be the course of pregnancy and the delivery. If she is already pregnant, these counselling sessions will help her understand the care that needs to be taken of the mother herself and the unborn child”, shares Dr Tomar.
Is Breastfeeding Safe During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
Unicef says you should absolutely breastfeed your baby. Breast milk provides antibodies that give babies everywhere a healthy boost and protect them against many infections. Antibodies and bioactive factors in breast milk may fight against COVID-19 infection if a baby is exposed.
Breastfeeding Safely During The COVID-19 Pandemic
3 Vital Questions To Ask Your Doctor If You Are Pregnant During The Pandemic
- Do ask about prenatal vitamins and altering your diet to best suit your needs as well as the current situation
- Ask about the hospital’s policy for labour and delivery as these are most likely changed during the pandemic
- Implore whether you will be able to visit your doctor for prenatal appointments
Many pregnant women express concerns, both for themselves and their babies, about the impact of COVID-19 on their health. The best solution is keeping yourself informed, following healthcare guidelines and being in contact with your doctor. Remember, recommendations and guidelines will continue to change as we learn more about this illness.