Is the pregnancy in lockdown safe? Am I more vulnerable to Covid-19 complications if I am pregnant? Will I receive timely treatment like before? What if I test covid positive during pregnancy? Will it affect my baby? etc., are the common concerns of women who are experiencing pregnancy in lockdown.
It is natural to have these concerns however, you do not need to panic or overthink about the whole situation. All you need to do is follow some extra precautions and be aware of the possible challenges.
Challenges of pregnancy in lockdown
Visits to the gynecologist
Many gynecologists are attending only a limited number of patients on daily basis. At some private hospitals, they are not taking admissions for new pregnancies. In such situations, it might be challenging to find a good gynecologist who will deal professionally with your pregnancy. Also, your doctor may not call you for frequent check-ups; most of the appointments would be telephonic.
Lockdown has left all of us with very few options for travel. Transport for the general public is closed and only people in essential services are allowed to travel. In this case, finding local transport for a doctor’s visit may be difficult. If you have your own vehicle, you will always have to carry your medical files while traveling.
Shortage of medical manpower
As days are passing by, covid-19 cases are hitting the peak. Hence, the demand for doctors and nurses is rising and nurses are being shifted to different departments. If the surge in covid cases continues at the same pace chances are there will be limited medical staff to look after maternity issues.
Risk at the diagnostic center
Covid19 hospitals and maternity hospitals are different but diagnostic centers are the same for everyone. Covid patients who are unaware of their condition come to the same diagnostic center for blood tests and CT scans where pregnant ladies come for sonography and other tests. This leaves pregnant ladies at high risk of contracting covid -19 at diagnostic centers.
Shortage of resources
Lately, we have seen a shortage of oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, and covid medicines. If the gap between demand and supply is not met it may lead to a shortage of basic supplies such as testing kits, PPE kits, gloves, etc. Such shortage of resources may lead to an adverse effect on maternity care hospitals.
Best tips for pregnant ladies during lockdown
- Do not touch your mask except the straps. In case, you touch it wash your hands thoroughly with soap.
- Maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from one person.
- Consult your doctor online whenever possible. Avoid visiting the doctor for minor problems.
- Follow all the precautions and wash your hands several times a day.
- Be extra cautious while visiting a diagnostic center. Do not touch any surfaces there. Sit at least two chairs away from the other patients.
- Additionally, once you come home, remove your clothes, put them in the laundry, and wear fresh clothes.
- Avoid touching your face repeatedly.
- Get enough sleep. This will help you to maintain a good immune system.
- Go for a 10-15 minutes’ walk in your society’s garden or just walk in your house/balcony.
- Do indoor exercises as suggested by your doctor.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes all essential nutrients.
- Stay hydrated always. Drink enough water, it is important.
- Be aware of covid symptoms in pregnant women such as cold, fever, diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing.
- Remember, if you come in contact with any covid patient keep a track of your temperature and oxygen level at least for the next 10 days.
Guidelines for pregnant ladies in India
There is no evidence in India as yet that proves that covid-19 affects pregnant ladies differently than other covid patients. However, covid-19 does increase the risk of respiratory viruses in pregnant women than non-pregnant women.
Hence, pregnant women are supposed to know certain important information related to this and be extra cautious about the whole situation.
Risk of covid-19 to Mother and baby
It is unlikely to transmit covid infection from mother to the baby during pregnancy. However, it can be passed to the baby after birth if he/she is in close contact with an infected person who may be the mother or any other caretaker.
The number of babies who tested positive after birth is very low in India but there is no proof whether they contracted the infection after birth, during birth, or before birth.
Precautions for prenatal care
a) Before going to the doctor always cross-check about the availability of the doctor and your time slot.
b) Do inquire about the hospital facilities and their precautionary measures for pregnant women.
c) Avoid visiting or staying in close contact with sick people or people/family members showing symptoms of covid.
d) Wash your hands after coming in contact with the outside surface or touching any item delivered to your home.
Precautions for Postpartum care
- Avoid sneezing/coughing while breastfeeding. If possible, wear a mask while breastfeeding.
- Do not touch your or your baby’s face with unwashed hands.
- It is advised to keep your baby away from a family member who travels frequently or who is a part of the medical staff.
- Also, if any of your family members has contracted the virus and later tested negative then it is advised (for u and baby) not to have contact with that family member at least for 28 days since he/she has tested negative.
Other health, nutrition, and lifestyle factors to consider while pregnant during the corona-virus pandemic
- Consume immunity-boosting foods such as ginger, citrus fruits, honey, turmeric, etc.
- Eat fresh seasonal fruits daily and also consume some dry fruits.
- Even at home, follow hand, respiratory, and face hygiene.
- Sanitize your body, clothes, and other products you bring from the market after the outdoor visit.
- Monitor your blood pressure and blood glucose level regularly as many times during pregnancy the BP or sugar levels may rise.
- Practice meditation to keep your mind calm.
- Practice antenatal yoga early in the morning.
- Hormonal imbalances and covid-19 environment outside may lead to anxiety. To control such anxiety, practice pranayama before going to bed.
- Stop watching the news as most of the news channels only show negative news and spread fear.
- Practice positive affirmations, listen to music, read good books and spend ‘me’ time doing what you love.
All you need to know about covid-19 vaccines for pregnant and lactating mothers
For pregnant women:
- The first 12 weeks of pregnancy are vital for a baby’s growth. Hence, if you have any doubts regarding the vaccine, you can take it after 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
- It is advisable to take vaccination before your third trimester as covid-19 can lead to several complications in the third trimester.
- Most of the women suffer only mild symptoms of covid-19 before the third trimester of pregnancy.
- There is no particular brand of vaccine that is preferred for pregnant women. However, both the doses of vaccines should be of the same brand.
- Once you take the vaccine, see to it that you do not take any other vaccine till the next 14 days.
- The covid-19 vaccine does not affect your fertility or fetus in any way.
For lactating mothers:
- There are zero risks involved when it comes to the vaccination of breastfeeding mothers. In fact, the antibodies can pass into a baby’s body through the milk and it will make your baby more immune to the virus.
FAQs related to pregnancy in lockdown
- If I am covid positive, can I breastfeed my baby?
In order to keep the baby safe, social distancing is mandatory. However, we cannot deny that breastfeeding the baby is equally important. Hence, in case you are covid positive, you can breastfeed the baby provided you follow necessary precautions such as wearing a mask, hand gloves, etc.
- If I am covid positive, can I pass the infection to the baby inside me?
To date, there is no study that proves that covid-19 infection passes from mother to fetus.
- Are pregnant women at high risk of covid?
Pregnant or not, immunity plays a major role in the case of virus infection. However, covid-19 can lead to severe complications in pregnancy and even lead to preterm birth.
- What should I do if I am pregnant and experience covid like symptoms?
Firstly, isolate yourself from other family members, talk to your doctor about it and get the covid test done. Remember the sooner the better!