In the midst of the global crisis due to Corona Virus pandemic, pregnant women worldwide are having lots of doubts regarding their ongoing pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding their newborns. As COVID19 is a new virus and research into it is ongoing WHO (World Health Organization) has taken up the queries of expectant mothers and has given tips to be followed by them.
Q- Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19 ?
A- According to WHO there are not enough evidences to prove this. Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID 19 infection on pregnant Women. However WHO says that due to changes in their body and immune systems, pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory Infections. Hence it becomes important that they report possible symptoms including fever,cough or difficulty to their healthcare provider.
Q- I am pregnant. How can I protect myself against COVID19 ?
A- WHO advises pregnant women to take the same precautions to avoid COVID19 infection as other people. You can help protect yourself by:
- Washing your hands frequently with an alcohol based hand rub or soap and water
- Keeping space between yourselves and others and avoiding crowded spaces
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practicing respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue, when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue immediately.
Q- Can COVID19 be passed from a woman to her unborn or newborn baby ?
A- WHO says it still does not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.
Q- What care should be available during pregnancy and childbirth ?
A- All pregnant women, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high quality care before, during and after childbirth. This includes antenatal, newborn, postnatal, intrapartum and mental health care. A safe and positive childbirth experience includes:
- Being treated with respect and dignity;
- Having a companion of choice present during delivery;
- Clear communication by maternity staff;
- Appropriate pain relief strategies:
- Mobility in labour where possible, and birth position of choice.
Q- Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID19 needs to give birth by caesarian section ?
A- WHO advice is that caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. The mode of birth should be individualized and based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
Q- Can women with COVID19 breastfeed ?
A- WHO answers, Yes. Women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so. They should:
- Practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask, where available;
- Wash hands before and after touching the baby;
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched.
Q– Can I touch and hold my newborn baby if I have COVID19 ?
A- WHO says yes you can breastfeed your baby if you have COVID19 infection. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. You should breastfeed safely, with good respiratory hygiene. It advises you to hold your newborn skin-to-skin also you can share a room with your baby. Remember to always wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean.
Q- I have Covid19 and I am too unwell to breastfeed my baby directly. What can I do ?
A- If you are too unwell to breastfeed your baby due to COVID-19 or other complications, you should be supported to safely provide your baby with breastmilk in a way possible, available, and acceptable to you. This could include:
- Expressing milk;
- Donor human milk.