Health & Wellness

Pregnancy Amid COVID19 Pandemic: All You Need To Know!  

Expert answers to some of the most pressing questions posed by expecting mothers.

The protocol for pregnant women to protect themselves from the virus remains the same as for the general public. The most important steps being to maintain high hygiene by washing hands for twenty seconds at least frequently, not touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth nose, limiting outdoor exposure, and most importantly social distancing. It is safe to go on walks but remain six feet away from people you don’t live with, or best to walk at the safety of your own homes indoors. 

But apart from this, there are several other questions on the minds of expecting moms. The daily dose of news isn’t exactly helping them calm those jitters. Is it safe to give birth now? Should I be tested for Covid19? What happens if I’m tested positive? How does breastfeeding work then? 

While there’s still a lot of ambiguity that surrounds the impact of the Virus on pregnant women, we reached out to expert Dr. Narmadha Gynecologist and Fertility Consultant to help answer some of the most common questions about Coronavirus and pregnancy.  

Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?

Pregnancy is an immunocompromised state, which means that they have an alternative way of responding to the disease process. But as such pregnant women are not at a higher risk from Covid19. Reported cases of pregnant women with Covid19 are milder and there is a good recovery rate.  

Should all pregnant women be tested for COVID-19?

As of now in our country, we are following the National Protocol. There is no specific recommendation that all pregnancy should be tested for Covid19. Screening for asymptomatic pregnant women is as per national protocol. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has noted that asymptomatic pregnant women should be tested in the health facilities where they were expected to deliver and all arrangements should be made to collect and transfer samples to testing facilities. If there is a confirmed or a suspected case we are asked to immediately inform the local government, or health department. Registers have to be maintained. 

So What Happens If One is Tested Positive! 

Can COVID-19 be passed from a woman to her unborn or new-born baby?

Vertical transmission seems to be possible. For now, only limited studies reporting on a small number of cases are available to answer this question. More study is needed in this particular area, so it is not determined as of yet. 

Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to give birth by cesarean section?    

No, as of now there is no current evidence to favour one mode of delivery over another and should not be altered depending on the presence of Covid19. It is dependent on the general condition of the mother. If the mother is sick, in that case, yes, it requires urgent delivery, and cesarean can be followed. 

Breastfeeding while self-isolating:

Breastmilk contains antibodies and other immunological benefits and is the best source of nutrition for infants. It helps protect the child against respiratory diseases and is key for child’s growth, development, and health, as well as for helping them develop immunity against any non-communicable diseases later in life.

Speaking to JFW on the same Dr. Narmadha says that Covid19 does not spread via breast milk. But however, precautions are being taken. “As of now, there are no recorded cases where breast milk is tested positive for Covid19. So if the mother is Covid positive she must be separated from the baby, and expressed breast milk with the help of breast pumps must be collected from the mother in a sterile manner and should be given to the baby by a healthy caregiver.” She explains. 

All said and done while these are challenging times it’s important to stay calm! Precautions to be taken without panic, be smart when it comes to personal hygiene and contact. Take one day at a time. Eat healthily, limit your exposure to media and news, practice meditation, and stay as happy and optimistic as possible. 

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