What To Expect When You're Expecting During The Pandemic?

What To Expect When You're Expecting During The Pandemic?
Pregnant and worried about the Coronavirus? Here's everything you need to know:
Pregnancy is a time full of excitement and love - not just for the expecting mother but also for close family and friends. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has cast a rather dark shadow on these otherwise happy times. The lack of friends and family around (due to social distancing) can make the whole process a little difficult and on top of that, the spread of fake news, and the uncertainty of the situation can cause severe anxiety to expecting mothers. But before you start to rethink your birthing plan, we have a few precautions for you to take that will help alleviate that extra stress and pressure. 
We decided to put together some of the more common queries and fears of expecting mothers during this pandemic, and answer them with the help of healthcare professionals. 

Are you extremely anxious about being pregnant during the pandemic?

It is important to remember that it is perfectly normal to be anxious during these uncertain times. However, it is the best time to rest and eat well. Practicing some prenatal yoga might even bring your mind some much needed rest. 

For the good health of you and your baby, it is crucial that you maintain both your physical as well as mental well being. Therefore, it is encouraged that you take out the time to participate in regular activities and hobbies. 

However, if your anxiety is becoming unmanageable, and you wish to speak to some heath care experts, you can seek help on several helplines.  

AKU's dedicated helpline: 021 111 911 911
Umang Helpline:
PU's dedicated helpline: 0313-3535500, 0324-4275111

Does being pregnant automatically put you at a higher risk of contracting the virus? 

Being pregnant does not put you at a higher risk for contracting the virus. Up till now, no new information has come to light that would make you think otherwise. It is difficult time for everyone, especially expecting mothers.

Here are some precautions you can take:

  • Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Keep a distance between yourselves and others, ideally, at least 6 feet of distance. 
  • Since the virus mostly travels from person to person, now would be a good time to get in the habit of touching your eyes, nose and mouth even less. 
  • Practicing respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. You should then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Even after the lockdown is lifted, you should continue to avoid large gathering, and maintaining distance with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID–19 including a high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough.
  • Avoiding going out of your home and using public transport, as far as possible.
  • Try talking to your employer and see if you can come to a "working from home when possible" arrangement.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. This might be difficult at a time when you need your elders around more than ever, but it's best to avoid meeting them. 
  • Using a telephone or online services to contact your doctor or other essential service providers.

Is it safe to continue prenatal check ups? Should you visit your doctor?

It is natural to be fearful of stepping outside the house for appointments. More responsible clinics are limiting how many pregnant women can be in the clinic at the same time by limiting appointments. Moreover, for those that have low risk pregnancies, the doctors are choosing to hold appointments via video call. Only in terms of high risk pregnancies or any complications are doctors entertaining seeing the patients in person for physical examinations due to OPDs being closed at the moment. 

Does becoming ill with COVID-19 increase risk of miscarriage or other complications?

Even though there Coronavirus is still a fairly new virus and the research is still ongoing, but there has not been any documented increase in risk of miscarriage or fetal malformations in pregnant women who have contracted the virus. 

Based on data from other viruses such as SARS and MERS, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that pregnant women who get COVID-19 may have a higher risk for some complications, such as preterm birth. However, this data is extremely limited, and the infection may not be the direct cause of preterm birth.

What are the chances of you passing on the virus to your unborn or newborn child? 

It is important to remember that there are still limited cases that have reported which are not enough to come to a conclusion. However, most of the pregnant women who contracted the virus in the case reports shown below had COVID-19 during the third trimester of pregnancy.

  • study of nine pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19 and had symptoms showed that none of their babies was affected by the virus. The virus was not present in amniotic fluid, the babies’ throats, or in breast milk.
  • Another study of 38 women infected with COVID-19 found that none of the newborns tested positive for the disease.
  • Two case reports of infants born to mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2 demonstrated that the infants had elevated levels of antibodies to the virus but did not demonstrate any clinical evidence of infection with the virus. (See HERE)
  • Another case report analyzing 33 pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 found that three of their newborns were also infected with the virus and had clinical signs of infection, as well as confirmation of COVID-19 infection. It is unclear whether these newborns were infected while in the womb or if these infections were acquired after birth, as the newborns were tested when they were days old. The possibility of vertical transmission (passing the virus from mother to baby) has not been ruled out but the chances of transmission remain low. 

When should I get tested for the virus?

It is advised to only get tested when you have developed symptoms due to the shortage of testing kits. 

What will happen if I test positive for Coronavirus? 

If you test positive for it - you'll have to go into self isolation for 14 days before getting retested. And once you're in the clear, you can come out of isolation. And it is best to maintain direct communication with your obstetrician in the light of any such developments. However, if you feel like your symptoms are worsening, it is best to seek immediate medical help and rush to the nearest hospital while keeping your obstetrician in the loop. 

Will my baby be tested for COVID-19?

Yes, if you have suspected or confirmed COVID–19 at the time your baby is born, your baby will be tested for coronavirus.

Can I breastfeed my baby if I have contracted the virus?

There is no evidence that suggests that you cannot breastfeed your child if you choose to do so, even if you have been tested with COVID-19. However, there are some precautions that you can follow to keep your baby safe: 

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles. Sanitize all surfaces that you touch frequently with a Hand Sanitiser or Sanitising Spray which has more than 60% alcohol in it. (View the Conatural Hand Sanitiser Range HERE)
  • Try to avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while breastfeeding.
  • Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, where available.
  • Consider asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to your baby.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched.

Is C-section prescribed for women who have contracted the virus?

No. According to the WHO, Cesarean sections should only be performed when medically advised. There is no evidence that would suggest that normal births are less safe than c-sections during the pandemic. The two do not have a link at this point. 

Can your husband or family member be nearby when you give birth?

While there is no said limitation, it is advised that only one person accompany you to ensure that not many people are exposed to the virus. 

It might be a difficult time, but remember to still find the little joys in life. Now more than ever is the time to focus on yourself, and do little things that can help you relax; like stretching exercises, breathing exercises and giving your obstetrician a call if you need to. Eat well, drink well, put your hands on your belly, feel your unborn child and enjoy being pregnant.