Pregnant women during the on-going pandemic have a whole host of questions about their and their unborn child’s safety. Responding to these questions can go a long way in addressing the misgivings of expecting mothers.
Accordingly, we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions by to-be mothers based on the information available with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Are pregnant women at a higher risk from COVID-19?
Pregnant women who are relatively older, overweight, and have pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension and/or diabetes have been observed to be at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Similarly, pregnant women who develop severe symptoms are also more likely to require intensive care compared to non-pregnant women of the same age.
Owing to the intense bodily and immune system changes that pregnant women undergo, they are also highly prone to developing respiratory infections after contracting the coronavirus.
How to keep the baby and mommy safe during COVID-19?
Protocols for expecting mothers are very much the same as they are for the rest of the population: wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day; wear a mask and avoid social gatherings.
Expecting mothers are also strongly advised to stay in close contact with their health care providers, while at the same time limiting the number of their in-person appointments. Since telemedicine is the new normal, women should keep their consultation sessions online unless there’s an emergency or the doctor advises otherwise.
Can a pregnant mother pass on coronavirus to her unborn child?
To date there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be passed on from the mother to the unborn fetus. However, research in this domain is still underway.
Should a pregnant woman get tested against coronavirus?
An expectant mother should only get tested if she experiences COVID symptoms and/or if she has been exposed to a COVID-positive person. Even then, she should immediately call her doctor and ask for the necessary advice.
If the test result returns positive, as is the protocol, the pregnant woman must immediately isolate herself in a separate room from other family members.
Jeanne Sheffield, M.D., an expert in maternal-fetal medicine at Johns Hopkins, says, “Ideally, all pregnant women should be screened for COVID-19 when they are admitted to deliver their babies, but especially mothers with cough, fever or any respiratory symptoms.”
Should suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients give birth only via c-section?
No. as per usual practice, each case should be evaluated on its own merits and a decision should be based on a mother’s own preference as well as her health indicators.
Can new mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 touch and hold their newborns?
Close bodily contact with the newborn and exclusive breastfeeding are extremely healthy practices that enable the baby to thrive.
However, mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are advised to always wear a medical mask during any form of contact with their child. They must also practice excellent hand hygiene to keep their baby safe.
For more information on how to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic, follow International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) COVID Free Pakistan campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.