pregnancy and childbirth

Coronavirus Infection & Pregnancy - Guidance & Advice

The world is witnessing a pandemic due to the coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19). The most classic symptoms include fever, persistent cough, and shortness of breath. Since these symptoms are common to many other diseases, the nature of the novel coronavirus is quite uncertain.

While the virus affects individuals of all ages, genders, socio-economic status and geographical boundaries, some groups are more vulnerable to its exposure. People with existing comorbid conditions like respiratory diseases, heart disorders or diabetes, aged individuals and pregnant women have been advised to monitor themselves thoroughly.

Being pregnant during the pandemic

Historically, viral epidemics like influenza, SARS, and MERS have had an impact on pregnant women’s health but the coronavirus seems to act differently. Research on pregnant women, though limited yet reassuring, suggests that pregnant women do not have an increased risk of developing respiratory problems and contracting COVID-19 as compared to any other healthy individual. That is, the novel coronavirus doesn’t treat pregnant women any differently than any other adult. It doesn’t make them overtly vulnerable.

However, pregnant women and those around them have to plan ahead and take the necessary precautions with the utmost sincerity. Here are some of the safety measures one should abide by in support of a healthy pregnancy:

  1. Maintain social distancing
    Keep the outside visits to a minimum. Women, especially in their third trimester i.e. over 28 weeks of pregnancy, must practice strict social distancing to minimize the risk of catching an infection. Therefore, avoid hosting baby showers or participating in communal traditions related to pregnancy and childbirth and opt for online alternatives instead.
  2. Hygiene and general care
    Wash your hands, arms, and face with soap and water frequently. If you do not have access to either of them, use alcohol-based sanitizer instead. Always wear a face mask while meeting someone in your home or otherwise. Avoid touching your face. These practices are especially important after coming in contact with an outsider or foreign object such as receiving an online delivery order at your doorstep.
  3. Hygiene and postnatal care
    There is no evidence suggesting that breastmilk can transfer the coronavirus from an infected mother to her baby. Initial days of breastmilk carry colostrum which is highly essential and nutritive for the infant to gain immunity. Do not refrain from breastfeeding your new-born on account of this virus. You can even opt for breast-pump if you have to. Just ensure that you wear a mask while feeding your baby. Sanitize your hands, arms, and face before and after taking care of the baby.
  4. Communicate and monitor yourself
    Always be on the lookout for symptoms not only of COVID-19 but in general. Communicate about any distress or illness with your doctors, midwives, and loved ones. Do not skip regular prenatal check-ups. Be alert on any warning signs such as abdominal pain, bloody and/or watery discharge, severe chest pain, and headaches. Contact your doctor immediately or visit a nearby medical facility if needed.
  5. Healthy diet
    Do not skip on your prenatal and postpartum nutritional care. According to medical research, women may have low immunity during pregnancy and take time to recover afterward. Consequently, they’re prone to fall sick more than usual. Balance your diet with folic acid, rich vitamins, and ample fiber along with freshly-cooked meals to boost your immunity and strength. Keep your body hydrated to minimize the risk of blood clots.
  6. Keep fit
    Pregnancy could be a tough journey on its own. Being cooped up at home due to frequent lockdowns and fear of catching the infections, pregnant women tend to ignore their physical fitness. Along with eating right, exercise is essential to keep your health in check. Walk in and around your home regularly. Social distancing doesn’t mean being immobile.
  7. Do not panic
    It is well-documented how much stress can negatively impact your health and of your unborn child’s health. This corona virus pandemic is a highly stressful situation for many. Keep tab on your emotional and mental health along with your physical wellbeing.

While scientists across the world are working tirelessly to find a cure to this problem, individuals can help a lot in preventing its spread by altering their social behavior and maintaining personal hygiene. While being pregnant during the pandemic could be a concern for many, following proper precautionary measures would ensure the health and safety of the mothers and their babies.

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