The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to an abrupt halt. It has muddled people with unresolved questions that have left them with a vague picture of COVID 19 in terms of its many causes and effects. The one section that seems to be especially ambiguous in these trying times is the ‘pregnant women’. Pregnancy is a phase where a woman can feel multiple emotions. With Coronavirus coming into the picture, a lot of to-be-mothers are left daunted with uncertainties and fairly so! But here is a thing-Optimism is the opium for all those hullabaloos popping up in the mind. In these times of open-ended possibilities, we talked to a Dr. Manisha Singh (MBBS, DGO, DNB – Obstetrics & Gynecology) at Fortis Hospital, to converge and make sense of all that is disjunct with respect to ‘Coronavirus and Pregnancy’.
Precautions! What to do?
Coronavirus is a subject that is still being widely studied by the researchers. This in itself makes it obvious that it is in the best interest of all people, especially pregnant women to stay indoors and maintain isolation because there may not be an immediate and sure shot solution for COVID 19 infected pregnant women. “When pregnant women get even normal fever, it is always recommended to get a detailed consultation.”, says Dr. Manisha Singh, a senior gynecologist at Fortis hospital. Coronavirus has been spreading all over the world like wildfire. In these times, it is imperative to follow the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisations because everyone irrespective of their existing physical conditions is indiscriminately susceptible to the Coronavirus. “So far we have not dealt with a pregnant woman with COVID 19 but with all that is going on, if a woman gets a high temperature, she must without much ado consult a doctor.” However, WHO on their FAQ section does not mention pregnant women in the high-risk category. In addition, Dr. Singh says that pregnant women should keep in mind to be very honest about their partner’s travel history to the doctors besides keeping general precautions.
Can the Coronavirus be transmitted from mother to baby?
With scant availability of data, the recommendations coming in from various reports across the world are contradictory. Dr. Manisha says that while studies are still evolving, so far it does not precisely indicate that newborns can contract the virus from their mothers. However, she continues, it is a good idea to isolate the baby from the mother as soon as they are born. Her advice aligns with a number of worldwide reports including China and the US. According to the WHO, so far no sample of the virus has been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk. It is still a matter of contention if the COVID 19 can be passed on to the babies from the mothers.
Can pregnant women with Coronavirus breastfeed?
The World Health Organisation says, ‘YES’. Since the virus sample has so far not been found in breast milk, women depending on their wish may/may not opt to breastfeed. Dr. Manisha reiterates that coronavirus is still an open-ended subject and we can never be sure what we learn about it tomorrow so it is important for mothers to be mindful at all times. WHO gives a nod to breastfeeding on conditions such as utmost care for respiratory hygiene, washing hands before and after touching the baby and regularly cleaning the surface that may have come in contact with the infected mother.
In addition, if the mothers feel too weak to be able to breastfeed, they can resort to ‘expressing milk’, ‘Relactation’ and ‘Donor milk’ as alternate options.
Delivery of the baby- C-Section or Normal
In the case of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, WHO advises that normal delivery is the best way to go about it. However, the Caesarean section should be considered only if medically necessary or justified. Moreover, the report also states that the “mode of birth should be individualized and based on women’s preferences alongside obstetric indication.”
Has the COVID 19 lockdown affected pregnant women’s visits and timely consultations?
Dr. Manisha says, “We have definitely limited the patient’s visits to the hospital but we are available for them 24*7 over the call. We keep a tab on their health by constantly staying in touch. However, if there ever arises a need to see a doctor even for a mild fever, we are always around and hospitals are always open.” It is advisable to take adequate precautions while visiting a hospital such as masks, sanitizers, etc.
The psychological effect of coronavirus lockdown on pregnant women
The coronavirus lockdown phase is quite a testing time for everyone in general. Therefore it is quite understandable that pregnancy, which is already an emotionally charged phase in a woman’s life may in a lot of ways affect their mental space. Dr. Manisha suggests that during these times of emotional turmoil, women should always keep in touch with their closest confidante and share everything without any fear of judgment. It is important to talk to someone and feel free to be able to speak up. Most importantly, talk to the doctors, they are always listening and they can always be trusted. A wise person once said, “No question is a silly question, especially during pregnancy.” In addition, physical exercises like walking and yoga coupled with a few minutes of meditation every day can release all that oxytocin and make one feel happier and refreshed.
In conclusion, pregnancy is a beautiful time in the lives of all women and no matter what the circumstances are, it can always be made special with people who matter. Love flavored with some excitement and covered by precautions can surely help one get through this phase of pregnancy with ease. On an optimistic note, while you square up to official WHO guidelines, don’t forget to stop and embrace each moment that is going to bring you a lifetime of joy, happiness and uncontained aspirations for the future.