Ordinarily, as a pregnant woman, there are some things you shouldn’t do, as far as the health and safety of your baby is concerned. However, with the presence of a pandemic, there is a greater risk involved for both mother and child.
Pregnant women go through immunological and physiological changes during pregnancy. This makes them prone to illness, and may put them at increased risk of developing viral respiratory infections; therefore pregnant women and especially during the second trimester may be at greater risk of suffering severe illness and mortality due to the Coronavirus infection.
Here’s a quick fact on the virus behind this pandemic; Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in humans, is known to cause respiratory diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
It is an infectious disease which spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person sneezes or coughs or contact with contaminated surfaces. The most common symptoms are high fever, tiredness and dry cough.
It is important to note that some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. What this means is that you can’t tell someone who is well from one who’s unwell. Which brings us to the bugging question, “How do you protect yourself and your unborn child?”
There are no scientific studies that clarify the risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy because it is a new strain of virus, but from the SARS and MERS cases, high risk was observed for miscarriage and stillbirth.
However, one of the characteristic symptoms of Covid-19 is high fever, a symptom that if it occurs during the first trimester can increase the risks of some types of birth defects. In addition, the coronavirus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
Therefore, a mother who is infected with the coronavirus won’t infect her baby through childbirth, but only after delivery if she does not follow strict safety measures to minimise the spread of the virus to the baby.
The only measure I can preach is that of Prevention, and to do that here are tips to avoid getting infections during pregnancy.
- Don’t panic, a lot of bad decisions are made when fear creeps in. Instead, arm yourself with the right information and stay positive.
- Ensure your vaccinations are up to date and you are consistent with your antenatal drugs. This helps to boost your immunity to a certain extent.
- Isolate yourself and/or your family, meaning stay at home, limit visitors or your movement around your community. This is better than “social distancing”. Social distancing is standing at least 6 feet away from people, which might not be possible within a confined space, in any case, that brings us to…
- Ensure you have a nose mask when going out. When someone sneezes or coughs they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus and if you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets. Hence, the reason for the mask.
- Avoid touching your face. Hands can pick up the virus through contaminated surfaces, then transfer it to your eyes, nose or mouth and make you extremely sick.
- Frequently clean and disinfect touched surfaces like door knobs, tables, keyboards, taps, chair handles with bleach or antiseptic wipes.
- Wash your hands as many times possible with soap for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water aren’t available. Don’t forget to wash up to the elbows if you are wearing a sleeveless garment, also pay attention to the pieces of jewellery on fingers or hands, as they can harbour germs.
- Cover your cough or sneeze using the elbow technique that is sneezing or coughing into your elbow.
- Avoid people that are sick, which is why you should attend antenatal classes unless you have serious reasons (at least for now).
- Wash your fruits, veggies and cook your meat properly. Avoid raw meat, undercooked eggs and undercooked meals.
- Practice healthy habits around pets and other animals. Wash hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
The outbreak of this disease is stressful for everyone and could be more stressful for you. However, in the midst of it all, eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, meditate, take breaks from watching, reading or listening to News, and lastly stay positive.
In the event you start showing signs or symptoms of the virus, notify your Doctor via a phone call to know what the next call of action is – this will help in preventing the spread of the virus, as the symptoms can be treated from home unless the case has become too severe.
I assure you with this last saying…“This too shall pass away.”