“I am tired of having home cooked food and I am craving for pizza, burger, etc. Can I order food?” asked one of the participants during a webinar session conducted by SAKRA World Hospital. The session titled “Keeping pregnant women safe during the pandemic” witnessed more than 100 participants seeking help and information pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth issues during the pandemic and lockdown. The session was hosted by Dr Prabha Ramakrishna, Senior Consultant & Head – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, SAKRA World Hospital and Dr Chitra S, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, SAKRA World Hospital.
The session presented a candid conversation focusing on what a pregnant mum must know about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of the mother, the foetus and the new-born and the various ways both can remain healthy during the crisis time.
Child birth is a beautiful experience, yet can be overwhelming for a pregnant mother. Pregnancy during a crisis like COVID-19 and an enforced lockdown period can result in lots of anxiety, stress and other problems, both for new parents and their family members. Lack of easily available medical support system, restricted movement and visit to the doctors due to lockdown can fuel up the high levels of emotional turmoil.
Numerous news relating to the severity of the virus, numbers of cases increasing day by day and death due to infection being circulated all over various social media have certainly created panic amongst pregnant women. Most of them worry about what might happen if they are exposed to the virus or get infected. Pregnancy is an extremely vulnerable period for women during which they are prone to suffer miscarriages and it is advisable to be careful and maintain a strong immune system. They must watch out for symptoms and not wait for them to decrease or feel better. Hence, taking care of health, following the norms of social distancing and self-quarantine (if expecting mild symptoms) is vital.
According to ICMR guidelines, a pregnant woman is advised to attend routine antenatal care, tailored to minimum, at the discretion of the maternal care provider at 12, 20, 28 and 36 weeks of gestation and at regular intervals as advised for high risk pregnancy cases, unless they meet current self-isolation criteria. Simplifying ICMR guidelines, Dr Prabha Ramakrishna said, “A pregnant woman needs mandatory visits to the hospital during first trimester screening and check-ups which are done at the 12th week of pregnancy. The anomaly scan, done between 18 and 20 weeks or around the fifth month of pregnancy. And check-ups done in the seventh month and during week 36 (ninth month) as she gets closer to her due date.”
Dr Prabha added, “At Sakra World Hospital, our healthcare system is agile enough to ensure women to have a safe pregnancy and childbirth even under the pressures of COVID-19. Most blood tests needed during pregnancy can be done through sample collection from home. The reports can be shared with doctors via email or during a video consultation.”
Pregnancy is a critical time, especially the first trimester. Tackling coronavirus during pregnancy certainly needs extra caution. The session highlighted on how a pregnant woman can maintain personal health and the importance of following the instructions and advisories for safe delivery. It is advisable to take nutritional meals, perform mild exercises, stay hydrated, have adequate sleep, stay healthy, avoid social gatherings and travel to avoid further pregnancy complications and COVID-19 infections.
Commenting on the health complications during pregnancy and the importance of practicing health hygiene, Dr Chitra S said, “Taking up precautionary measures to avoid getting infected and practicing health hygiene such as wearing mask, washing hands frequently, disinfecting the house, etc. are of utmost importance. We have noticed that many pregnant women are complaining of backache or are developing urinary tract infections during this lockdown period. All these minor complications such as swelling of legs, mild headache and flu symptoms are caused due to restricted movement and being less active. Stay hydrated, drink 2-3litres of water every day. Some health issues can be sorted through online consultation. If you need to visit a health centre, take your own vehicle and avoid public transport.”
The session concluded by stating how an individual can help to avoid the spread of infections and have safe childbirth just by following the norms of social distancing and other guidelines issued by the Govt of India.