The world is fighting against the Covid-19 that has claimed lives of over three million worldwide since cluster of cases were reported in Wuhan, China in December 31, 2019.
Nepal is currently reeling under the second Covid-19 wave with cases setting new records each day. The alarming surge has taken a toll on Nepal’s health system with hospitals running out of beds and patients gasping for oxygen.
With lockdowns clamped, mainly female are facing an increased burden of household chores, having a tough time in accomplishing office works from home and managing online classes for kids amidst the fear of getting infected. Domestic violence, mental stress, and the increased rates of pregnancy leading to septic abortion and pregnancy-related complications are also major concerns.
Record says female are less likely to get infected than men. This may be due to the existing comorbidity in men more than in female. But, females in the age group of 20-29 years are getting more infected and pregnant females in Nepal mostly fall under the age group.
Many of my patients question me about pregnancy during the pandemic. Here I try to answer some of them:
Should I get pregnant during Covid-19 pandemic?
There is no enough evidence to prove the facts about the outcome of the baby but if you get pregnant then you should be extra careful as pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 when compared to non-pregnant women. And some research suggests that pregnant women with Covid-19 are also more likely to have a premature birth and cesarean delivery, and their babies are more likely to be admitted to a neonatal unit.
What if I get pregnant? Should I continue with pregnancy?
There is no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to Covid-19. Covid-19 infection is currently not an indication for medical termination of pregnancy. With extra care you can continue the pregnancy and there is no evidence to suggestion abortions in pregnancy due to Covid-19 infection.
What to do during pregnancy to be safe?
Keeping distance from all including your family members, staying home, wearing mask, using sanitizer and taking your regular medications will help. In pregnancy also if you don’t have comorbidly like diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases then you can continue pregnancy taking precautions. And please do not miss your antenatal visits or consult your health care provider on phone, SMS or chats.
What about my baby if I test Covid-19 positive?
No virus has been found still in the amniotic fluid and breast milk as per studies carried out so far. It has been seen that babies born from Covid positive mothers tested positive only if they are exposed to droplet from the mother.
What about the mode of delivery?
Covid-19 infection is not indication for cesarean section in itself. So delivery will mode will be decided by obstetrician by evaluating other parameters like in normal pregnancy.
Don’t medicate yourself unnecessarily and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
What about postpartum follow-up?
It’s necessary to follow up with your health care provider as postpartum care after childbirth is an ongoing process. In these times you might have more anxiety about your health and the health of your family. Pay attention to your mental health as well as physical.
Should I get vaccinated?
You may opt to be vaccinated if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. While further research is needed, early findings suggest that getting an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy poses no serious risks. The findings are based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ coronavirus vaccine safety monitoring system.
I am infected with Covid-19. Should I breastfeed my baby?
Reports suggest breast milk doesn’t contain the virus but if the mother is Covid positive the danger of the spread of the virus remains there through droplets. So take steps to avoid spreading the virus to your baby. This includes washing your hands before touching your baby, wearing a face mask, or covering the baby with light clothes during breastfeeding. If you’re pumping breast milk, wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning.
At last, I would suggest all women take care of their mental health as well as physical health and consult their health care provider in case of any doubts. Don’t medicate yourself unnecessarily and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Dr. Nisha Adhikari (MBBS, MD) is obstetrician/gynecologist.