The first wave of Covid-19 pandemic last year posed a variety of challenges to medical professionals all over the world. In the beginning of this year, citizens got hope in the form of the vaccine which was supposed to ensure the steady decrease of cases. Amidst problems like vaccine politics and people refusing to take the vaccine, the second wave has initiated and is way more virulent than the first one. With all of these issues, there have been various gynaecological and vaccine related rumors and misconceptions that have scared and discouraged people from taking the vaccine. Dr. Priya Selvaraj, gynaecologist and daughter of famous doctor Kamala Selvaraj, has taken efforts to clarify doubts regarding Covid, pregnancy and other gynaecology related issues.
Dr. Priya took to social media to clarify doubts regarding the vaccine and pregnancy. When asked if women suffering from gynae-related medical conditions can take the vaccine, she said, “Issues like PCOD, endometriosis, etc. are not related to the vaccination at all and they can go ahead with the vaccine dose. Until and unless they come to us with an acute emergency like excessive bleeding or pain in the abdomen, which needs to be taken care of first. Then we treat that problem and then worry about the vaccine. Apart from that there is no relation to these issues and administering the vaccine.” She also added that it is a myth that menstruating women should not take the vaccine because it has no direct effect on the menstrual cycle..
In terms of vaccination for pregnant women she said, “The three regulatory bodies that we abide by are the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India(FOGSI). The first two bodies have specifically asked us not to administer the vaccine to pregnant and lactating women. This is because there is relatively less data on how Covishield and Covaxin affect pregnant women in India. But, FOGSI released a position statement last week that would work as a guideline for the government to consider vaccinating pregnant women. So, as of now pregnant women cannot receive a vaccination.”
“A low risk pregnant woman is no more at risk than a non pregnant individual. However, if the former contracts the virus, depending on her immunity, usually the infection can get more severe than that for a non pregnant individual. That is because of the physiological and functional adaptations that the immune system and lungs undergo during pregnancy,” she said. She also clarified that a Covid positive mother generally does not pass on the virus to the child. While there have been cases of mid-trimester miscarriages, premature births and growth restrictions due to placental involvement, generally the child does not contract the virus from his/her mother. Babies of Covid positive mothers undergo testing once he/she is born, which is performed on the 2nd and 7th day in postnatal life.
In the aspect of breastfeeding, Dr. Priya reassured that a Covid positive mother can breastfeed her child provided she takes the necessary precautions like sanitizing her hands, wearing a mask, ensuring the breast area is clean, etc. “Now, nurses train Covid-positive mothers to ensure that their breastfeeding is done hygienically. Either the mother can choose that or she can pump her breast milk to feed the child. Either way, there is no need to deprive the child of mother’s milk because she is infected as there is no evidence of transmission,” she added.
The doctor said that she advises her patients to ensure that they take all kinds of precautions while they are pregnant. “ Even if their husbands go out for work or for groceries. I ask the women to maintain social distancing. I have also advised them to limit the crowd if they insist on religious ceremonies like ‘Valaikappu – Seemantham’. They must use hand sanitizers generously, ensure that they are wearing their masks properly while they are outside and also take the prescribed medicines without fail,” she added. She reassured that even if a patient contracts Covid, she is definitely treatable if she approaches the doctor on time.