The COVID -19 pandemic has shocked the world with the pace at which it is spreading and has infected millions of people of all age groups. The virus transmission occurs when a person comes in close contact with an infected individual or from contaminated surfaces. The disease is hurting the most vulnerable sections of society and elderly citizens that have co-morbid conditions. Expectant mothers are living in a kind of void, suspended between hope and fear. They have several questions about whether coronavirus poses a threat to them and their babies.
Pregnancy in COVID-19 pandemic
Generally, pregnant women do not appear to be riskier than the healthy adult but the impact on health systems could very well endanger them. Pregnant women are also unwilling to seek care from health services for fear of exposure to the virus. Some even face barriers to health care due to lockdown-related restrictions. However, it is still important to exercise general safety precautions and not get paranoid regarding COVID-19 during pregnancy.
COVID-19 symptoms and precautions for pregnant women
Most pregnant women will only experience mild to moderate cold/flu-like symptoms. Some of other symptoms include throat pain, cough, high grade fever, shortness of breath, headache, and loss of smell. Severe symptoms of COVID 19, involving lungs and marked hypoxia, are more pronounced in older people, the immunosuppressed and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or chronic lung disease. The symptoms for severe infection are no different among pregnant women and early identification of symptoms along with assessment for prompt supportive treatment is the key to avoid complications.
There may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as pre-term birth among pregnant women with COVID-19 infection.
Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the COVID-19. If you are pregnant, as measures to reduce your risk of infection, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms and keep about 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. It is advisable to limit the number of visitors. Make use of voice and video chat to share moments with friends and family.
General tips that must be practiced diligently by all pregnant woman include
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Pregnant women who step out of the house should always wear mask, carry tissues & hand sanitizer and must wash hands with soap after returning
- It is important to ensure healthy diet
- Meditation may help you sleep better
As the world struggles with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak stay positive and think about the joy of bringing a new life into the world. Remember prevention is better than cure, so stay safe and enjoy your journey of nine months.
(The author is Senior Consultant Gynaecologist and Infertility Specialist, GK-1, New Delhi)
MD, DNB, FICOG, MRCOG (UK)