Let’s start with positive vibes. You must know that there are no special guidelines for pregnant women in these times that we are going through. The reason is simple, pregnant women are only as susceptible to COVID19 as the other people in the society. No more, no less. Also, there has been no evidence yet that the virus can pass through to the fetus, so let’s not create fear about that as well.
Here is what the Director of the NCRC ( National Clinical Research Center) of Obstetrics and Gynecology Disease in China, Jie Qiao, has stated. He says that according to the current data in China, the clinical performance of pregnant women having been affected by COVID-19 is similar with that of ordinary adults.
It is only if the pregnant woman does not have a good and healthy immune system that she is more at the risk of the virus that is threatening us all.
A related Coronavirus SARS ( Severe Acute Respiratory System) was identified in the year 2003. During its outbreak, it was observed that it was much more catastrophic for pregnant women than the general population. The numbers – fatality rate 25% for the former and about 10% for the latter make this evident.
Yet, you need to take precautions, the same as the general public.
1. Avoid shaking hands with others.
2. Practice social distancing.
3. Maintain good hand hygiene.
4. Do not touch your eyes, mouth, and nose without washing your hands.
5. Control your intake of negative news through TV, papers, or social media.
6. Stay safe at home as much as you can.
7. Keep your nose and mouth always covered.
When washing your hands use water and a good soap. Wash them for at least 20 seconds before drying them off with a dry towel or dryer. If soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based sanitiser is what you need.
If you are coughing or sneezing, make sure to use a tissue paper or use the crook of your elbow. You can recommend the same to others around you who might be coughing or sneezing. Make sure to always throw the tissue in the dustbin after use and wash your hands properly as suggested.
If you see someone else having a respiratory issue, cold, cough, or sneezing. Make sure to keep at least a meter of distance from them.
In case you have to go for routine prenatal visits to your gynaecologist, try to get them done online virtually on phone or through video call apps like Skype, Hangouts, Facetime, etc. Visit the hospital or the OB/GYN’s clinic only in case of labour and delivery.
When it comes to negative news, it is recommended to stop it altogether. Let your friends, relatives, or family members give you filtered news through word of mouth. That’s because, whether or not you get attacked by the virus, you and your baby will have to face the consequences on a psychological level because of the negativity you consume during pregnancy. And there’s a high chance that this negativity and the resulting anxiety might continue with your baby for a lifetime.
So, stay clear from negative news about the pandemic and if that’s not possible, make sure you control it and keep it to the minimum. This can be done by minimising the use of social media, watching of news channels, or reading of the newspaper every morning.
Do cough, fever, and headaches indicate COVID19?
If you do have severe symptoms of myalgias, headaches, fever, sore throat, cough, and cold, the reason behind them might be the COVID19. Yet, there’s a higher chance of these signs representing influenza or any other respiratory virus. So, do not worry, but get yourself checked. If it’s influenza you need to get it treated during pregnancy to keep yourself and the child healthy.
Although, if you have travelled an affected country in the recent past, or someone who has travelled lives nearby, there is a chance of the reason being COVID19. So, make sure you get it checked from an experienced gynaecologist nearby.
If COVID19 is diagnosed, what are the next steps?
First, don’t fret. Keeping calm will make the situation easier if not provide the best solution. Here’s what you need to know.
● Currently, no data suggests an increased risk of early pregnancy loss or miscarriage resulting from COVID19.
● Also, there are no reports of the virus being passed to the baby in the uterus when it was diagnosed in women during their third trimester of pregnancy.
Once the baby is delivered, if you are still under the effect of the coronavirus, make sure to keep a distance from the newborn baby. Whenever you need to touch the baby, make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before that. Also, wear a face mask.
Do not worry about breastfeeding. Whether you are under the effects of the virus or not, breast milk is still the best source of nutrition for the baby. Also, no reports are suggesting that the virus can be carried from the mother to the baby through breast milk.
For maintaining a distance from the baby, you can use a breast pump – manual or electric to express breast milk. A healthy caregiver can make the baby feed to it. Yet, make sure to wash your hands properly before touching the pump and clean it thoroughly after every use.
The most important point to note is not to worry. Because fear and anxiety may do you more harm. Take all precautions like washing hands, covering your mouth and social distancing. And always, keep in touch with your gynaecologist who is skilled, experienced and compassionate for taking the best care of you in these times.
With almost 25 years of experience in the field, I, Dr Sheetal Agarwal will love to help you, whether it is your fight against the COVID19 or anything else as a pregnant woman.
Get in touch if you have any questions. We’re always there for you.