Nov 18 , 2020
Pregnancy and Delivery in the Time of COVID-19: What You Need to Know
Being an expectant mother is tough enough, and the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably added anxiety and has encouraged expecting moms like you to take extra precaution when it comes to your health. Whether it be during your pregnancy or care for your newborn, we’ve listed the basic care you need to be prepared for during the pandemic. Staying healthy for two is no easy task and needs thorough research, so taking time to read this is already a first step for No Compromise moms like you.
Are pregnant women more at risk for COVID-19?
Expecting moms have been found to be at an increased early pregnancy COVID risk for severe illness from the virus in comparison to non-pregnant people. For pregnant people with the virus, the risk also increases for adverse outcomes like preterm birth. Pregnancy affects the body and the immune system, and pregnant women can be badly affected by certain respiratory infections. This is why taking extra precaution against the virus is of utmost priority. Take this into perspective: your immune system is managing two people. Even if some quarantine restrictions in the Philippines are gradually easing, we do urge you to stay home and avoid crowded places as much as possible for you and your baby’s safety.
Can the virus move from mother to unborn baby?
It is still unknown if an infected pregnant woman can pass on the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery. However, as of writing, the active virus has not been found in fluid samples in the womb or in breastmilk amongst infected moms.
How can I protect myself and my baby from the virus?
Your first line of defense will always be maintaining good hygiene. Wash your hands often, either with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Wear a mask when breastfeeding your baby and when in public. Keep at least 6 feet of distance with non-members of your household and avoid crowded areas. Observe sneeze and cough etiquette, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a bent elbow.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t put a mask or a face shield on your baby as this can increase the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, and accidental strangulation. As much as possible, it would be better for your newborn babies to stay at home.
1. Be sure to check in with your doctor
Schedules online may not have been updated and doctors’ hours may have changed, so it is important that you call ahead and schedule an appointment. Inform your doctor or your attending facility before visiting the clinic or hospital for your check-ups.
2. Consider teleconsultations
As we keep reiterating, pregnant women are vulnerable during the pandemic. We recommend giving teleconsultations a try to lessen your exposure to other people. We advise you to ask your doctor and pharmacy to give you at least a month’s worth of the medicines you need so you can avoid leaving the house.
3. Companions aren’t allowed during visits to the doctor
Generally, having more people in the health facility is discouraged unless they are essential for care. This type of protocol varies per facility. So take note that your partner, friends, or family might not be allowed with you for checkups and other appointments. But that doesn’t mean they can’t experience it as well! You can ask an attendant to take videos of the ultrasounds, make sure to write down the doctor’s advice, and relay whatever questions or concerns your partner might also have.
4. Monitor yourself often
Get involved in your care. Take your own blood pressure, weigh yourself, and monitor weight gain and immediately eport any unusual occurrences to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. These can ideally be done through teleconsultations too. Again, try to keep hospital visits limited to emergencies only to keep exposure at a minimum.
5. Get vaccinated to protect you and your baby
Vaccinate yourself against influenza (flu). This virus has similar symptoms to COVID-19 but belongs to a different family of virus. Getting vaccinated means reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor for the flu and also the risk for acute respiratory illness in pregnant women by 50%, according to the CDC. In addition to the flu vaccine, you should also get the whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine during pregancy to guard your baby against the disease, as it can also show similar symptoms to COVID-19. Members of your household should also seek vaccination to protect themselves and you.
6. Don’t be afraid to go to the hospital because of the virus
If you are going to your local emergency department, call to inform them that you are pregnant and are in an emergency. Call while you’re on the way if someone else is driving, or call before you start driving if you’re driving yourself.
7. Make a schedule in advance with the birthing facility so your OB-GYN can expect you
Walking in runs the chance of being turned away since most hospitals now are congested. Don’t think that you can do away with getting medical attention entirely: home births without a midwife and a doctor at hand are incredibly risky. Medical care is still absolutely necessary to prevent maternal and natal deaths. The Department of Health (DOH) stresses that giving birth in an accredited birthing facility is still the safest way, so it is important that you talk to your OB-GYN about this.
8. Be prepared for different protocols
Depending on the hospital, doctors might interview you, check your temperature, and look for possible symptoms upon admittance. This information helps them decide in which area of the hospital to allow you to have your delivery. Expect that all hospital personnel will be wearing full PPE for everyone’s safety. Lastly, your partner and other companions might not be allowed inside during the delivery. Inform your doctor beforehand in case you foresee that this will cause you unhealthy distress.
9. Expect that your hospital stay is likely to be short
Assuming no complications occurred, hospitals are likely to discharge you a day or two after giving birth. Going home early means less exposure for you and your newborn baby, and more available space in the hospital.
How you look after yourself during pregnancy and even after is fragile. Understand that protocols such as having to limit exposure, not allowing companions during birth and consultations are all for the benefit of everyone. We acknowledge that some may seem as a hassle or an added step that you’d want to do without but like we keep reiterating, extra precaution is needed due to the pandemic. From the moment of conception, your self-care is immediately for two people and this self-care should always be No Compromise.