With non-essential services, as well as OPDs, being shut down in accordance with the government’s stringent measures to control the spread of the infection, the challenges of dealing with pregnancy and becoming a new parent can only intensify.
Am I at risk of developing COVID-19 infection? What precautions must I take?
Pregnant women and new mothers are as much at risk as anybody else of contracting the infection if necessary precautions such as hand-washing, personal hygiene, social distancing are not followed. Additionally, there is no evidence of a higher risk of developing severe symptoms. If you have fever, cough and breathing difficulty, you must talk to a doctor to assess your risks.
Can having COVID-19 infection lead to preterm labour?
There are no studies done yet to see if having COVID-19 infection can lead to preterm labour. However, studies in the past have shown that having respiratory infections during pregnancy can contribute to preterm labour and low birth weight especially if the symptoms are severe. Hence it is important to adopt preventive measures.
What is the risk of passing the infection to my baby if I have COVID-19 while pregnant?
As of now, evidence suggests that the infection cannot be passed on to the baby while being pregnant. There have been reports of protective antibodies being developed in babies born to COVID-19 positive mothers.
Can I still go for antenatal visits as I am afraid I will catch the infection?
Most hospitals have regular sanitizations and procedures to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. If you are an expectant mother, always talk to your doctor beforehand to fix an appointment. Wear a mask and carry a hand sanitizer when you go for an antenatal visit.
Can I breastfeed my child if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
Current evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus cannot be transmitted to your newborn via breastmilk. However, there can be a higher risk due to close proximity as the infection spreads through nasal droplets while coughing or sneezing. It is important that you wear a mask, wash your hands with soap and water and maintain personal hygiene before breastfeeding your baby. You can also express your milk and get your baby fed by someone else as it is a safer option if you have tested positive.
If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 infection such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, it is important that you isolate yourself and speak to a doctor online to ensure your safety as well as that of the others.
If you are practising lockdown measures as well as social distancing and regular hand washing, you are considerably reducing your chances of exposure to the virus. The situation can be overwhelming for expectant mothers whose due dates are approaching amidst the global pandemic.
Here are a few tips for pregnant women
- Not all symptoms are emergencies. Some common symptoms noticed by women in their third trimester approaching due date include:
- Protrusion of belly button
- Feeling of the baby ‘dropping’ or moving lower in your abdomen
- Swelling of feet
- Watch out for symptoms such as frequent contractions gradually increasing in duration and intensity, decreased movements of the baby, any signs of increased blood pressure such as continuous headache, blurred vision as well as indications of abnormal vaginal discharge like leaking/ bleeding- these require evaluation on an emergency basis. Talk to a doctor and inform in such cases so that the hospital is prepared for the emergency rather than an unannounced visit.
- If you are instructed to undergo an antenatal visit, make sure you are wearing a mask and carrying a hand sanitizer from the moment you step outside the house. Do not touch the mask or your eyes or face during the visit. Remove the mask from the back of the head, dispose it in a closed bin and wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water afterwards.
- Experiencing stress with an approaching due date is quite normal. Practise meditation, deep breathing exercises and talk to mental health professionals if you are facing acute anxiety or panic.
It is vital that you continue staying at home. Depending on the mode of delivery, if you undergo a normal delivery, you may be discharged within 2-3 days and if you undergo a caesarian section, the hospital stay might extend. Additional measures need to be taken to reduce the number of people coming in contact with the baby. Continue to isolate yourself and the baby after delivery to ensure that you are both safe.
Here are some tips for new mothers who have just given birth
- After delivery, the vaginal discharge changes from red to brown and then to white, which is normal. It may take up to 6 weeks for your womb to return to the pre-pregnant state.
- The breastmilk at the beginning might seem little or absent, but it is not the case. Colostrum milk produced in the first week after birth is very essential for establishing good immunity in the newborn. Speak to your doctor to understand the correct breastfeeding techniques.
- Watch out for symptoms like high fever, excessive pain/discharge around surgical scars as well as excessive/ prolonged bleeding from the vagina beyond 3-4 weeks post-delivery which may need evaluation at the earliest.
- Watch out for symptoms in your baby such as excessive crying, decreased responsiveness, refusal of feeds, yellowish discolouration of eyes/skin, bluish discolouration of lips or face as these need emergency attention.
- Wash your hands regularly, maintain personal hygiene for the safety of your newborn too. Isolate yourself, choose a healthy diet, minimalise contact with other people and provide as much love and attention as possible to your baby.
If you are facing any symptoms as an expectant or new mother, make sure you consult a doctor online rather than self-medicating. Healthcare professionals are here to help you through this precious phase of your life.
You can now take the free COVID-19 self-assessment to know your risk of contracting coronavirus infection. In case you’re experiencing symptoms like sore throat, cough, fever, or breathing difficulty, get your symptoms assessed by top doctors on your phone on the MFine app.