Apart from the regular stresses faced during pregnancy, the to-be mothers are facing a new challenge before them…how to deal with the COVID outbreak??? In these tough times, when everyone is living with the fear of getting infected by this virus, a pregnant woman holds the dual responsibility of protecting herself and the “little one” in her womb.
With a lot of research going on, and the guidelines being modified on a daily basis, here are some snippets for the to- be mothers:
The one fact that is absolutely soothing is that the novel virus doesn’t seem to affect the pregnant more severely than the rest of the population; in contrast to the SARS virus that had proved to be more fatal in pregnancy. There has been no increase in the miscarriage rate according to a study conducted on COVID infected women in China.
It is still unclear if the virus can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy / childbirth (vertical transmission). Though, expert opinion says that viral transmission to the baby is unlikely; neither is the virus known to cause any developmental defects in the newborn.
So, maybe this virus does not look all that monstrous to the obstetricians and the expecting mothers, but it’s too early to comment on the long term implications the virus may have. So it goes beyond doubt that pregnant women should take extra precaution to protect themselves from being infected. So, let’s go through some practical measures that can be adopted:
Even as much as we all know that being amidst friends and family is a big stress buster in pregnancy, it would be advisable to practice social distancing and connect through phone and internet; especially beyond 28 weeks of pregnancy and in women with underlying heart/lung disease.
The practice of regular hand washing, cough etiquette, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment form the pillars in combating this dreaded infection.
Discuss with your gynecologist to extend your antenatal visits a little further, as it would help to minimize exposure; unless your appointment is scheduled for blood investigations or ultrasound; or if you have been advised frequent check-ups for a high risk pregnancy.
Reduce the number of people accompanying you to hospital, especially children and elderly.
For those working women who can’t avail the ‘work from home’ option, try to chalk out a work plan with your employer to modify the working conditions, and try to switch over to less public-facing roles.
As the COVID virus continues to wage its war against mankind, let us all strive to do our little to limit this contagion.
Al Hilal Hospital Muharraq