Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood are the periods in which a woman deserves utmost care, but how to take care of a woman who is pregnant or has given birth or in the initial stages of motherhood in the time of COVID-19? Let’s address the question to pay attention to expectant mothers, new mothers and newborns.
The expectant mother & COVID-19
If an expectant mother is asymptomatic and uninfected, the first thing she can do to stay safe is to cancel her routine visits to the hospital/clinic/doctor. A pregnant woman is more vulnerable to infection and it’s in her best interest to avoid places where she is likely to be with others. However, there are certain routine checks that are unavoidable. The most important ones among them are the scans to be done at 12 weeks and 19-20 weeks. Every pregnant woman must undergo these procedures. Also, note fetal movements regularly. After the scan at 19 weeks, the next one that requires to be attended is at 32 weeks.
The following rules, known as ‘Do the Five’, are devised to help expectant mothers to stay safe.
Stay home as much as possible. Step out only in the event of infection or pregnancy-related needs. As of now, the Medical Council of India has permitted telephonic consultations. Make use of it. Restrict the number of people who come home including maids and homecare personnel.
Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub to sanitize your hands.
Respiratory hygiene etiquette
Maintain respiratory hygiene by covering the nose with bend elbow, handkerchief or tissue while coughing/ sneezing.
Avoid touching face, eyes, nose and mouth with hands.
Keep a distance of at least 1 metre with the next person whether you’re at home or outside.
As of now, there’s no evidence of mother-to-child transmission when a mother is infected during the third trimester. Samples taken from amniotic fluid, cord blood, vaginal discharge, neonatal throat swabs, or breast milk are negative. One should report immediately to the doctors in case of reduced fetal movements, pain or bleeding.
As far as the mode of birth is concerned, it should be individualized considering the obstetric condition of the person.
In matters of routine antenatal, postpartum or post-abortion care, you’re advised to stick to the normal way of doing things.
After delivery, much care is needed from the mother as well as others around to prevent the newborn from getting infected. The key preventive measures are as follows:
Infants should be breastfed the standard way while applying necessary precautions based on infection prevention and control.
Maintain respiratory hygiene while feeding. Use a medical mask while near / being with the newborn. Wash hands thoroughly before and after breastfeeding or any other contact with the child.
Clean and disinfect surfaces which the symptomatic mother has been in contact with.
As we’ve already stated, pregnancy is a time when a woman needs extra care. Covid-19, against which the entire world is fighting a tough battle, warrants pregnant women and those around to adopt stringent measures in order to stay safe. Let’s stay home, let’s stay optimistic.
Dr. Lavanya Kiran | Senior Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore