COVID-19 FAQs related to Pregnancy and Childbirth

What is COVID 19 or coronavirus?

COVID 19 is a novel strain of coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) which is responsible for the worldwide pandemic. It causes flu-like symptoms and respiratory complications in infected individuals.

How does the coronavirus infection spread?

The COVID 19 strain of coronavirus is transmitted spread mainly through droplets and fomites (objects likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture).

Who are at high risk of catching coronavirus infection?

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

How can pregnant women prevent themselves from getting coronavirus?

Pregnant women are advised to follow the following suggest to prevent themselves from COVID 19 strain infection.  The suggestions are as per foll

  1. Home
  • Stay at home until and unless there is any medical emergency.
  • Prefer telephonic consultations especially for routine hospital visits, minor queries, which can be consulted over calls.
  • Avoid/ Restrict home visitors including housekeeping staff, maids, cooks, etc. to only essential conditions, if possible.

2. Hands

  • Frequent hand wash for minimum 20 seconds, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.(AVOID ALCOHOL BASED HAND RUB IN KITCHEN)

3. Elbow 

Cover mouth and nose with bent elbow, or tissue whenever you cough or sneeze and dispose the tissue immediately.

4. Face

Avoid unnecessary touching of face, eyes, nose and mouth with hands.

5. Space

Maintain social distance of at least 2 meters with person inside or outside the house.

Other general measures:

  • Work from home, when possible.
  • Maintain at least two metre distance with other people
  • Avoid crowded places- malls/ markets, crowded lift etc.
  • Travelling should be avoided; if needed then prefer using private vehicle but if public transport is used, maintain distance.
  • Avoid gatherings and functions for any kind of celebrations.
  • Minimize visitors coming to meet the mother and new-born after delivery.

Do pregnant women have higher risk of getting coronavirus infection?

  • As per the current data available, pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk or more unwell than other healthy adults if they are infected with COVID-19.
  • If it occurs also, then most of the pregnant women might experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.

Is coronavirus worse in pregnant women?

  • Usually healthy pregnant women have no particularly higher risks of coronavirus compared to other healthy adults.
  • Most of the otherwise healthy pregnant women, if get infected by coronavirus, may experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
  • But if there are any co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, respiratory disease, etc. the symptoms could be severe especially respiratory symptoms due to weakened and compromised immune state. For example, in case of other viral infections, she is more likely to have a severe form of respiratory disease.

Does coronavirus affect the developing baby?

  • Most of the studies suggest that the infection is not transmitted from the mother to child.
  • The risk of passing the infection from mother to the baby seems to be very low.
  • There have been recent studies showing that babies born to infected mothers were not found to be positive for corona virus after birth. However, a few case reports mention about the born babies to be infected but the source of infection couldn’t be confirmed whether they acquired infection after birth or in the womb, as the new-borns were tested when they were days old.
  • Currently, there is no evidence of any adverse effects on baby’s development if the mother is infected COVID-19.

What are the ways to prevent the spread or transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy?

  • The preventive measures for pregnant women and other adults are the same.
  • Pregnant women are advised to follow all the suggestions mentioned above as well as take the general preventive measures to prevent themselves from coronavirus infection.

During pregnancy what care should we take while visiting hospital?

  • Asymptomatic and uninfected woman – Advised to defer routine visits.
  • For minor ailments and questions – Prefer telephonic or video calling.
  • For the essential milestone visits
  1. The 12- and 19-week scans – Mothers advised to keep a check on fetal movements.
  2. 32 weeks – next visit for scan.
  3. For any further essential visits, your doctor and healthcare team will let you know as per your health and condition.
  • Recommended to always follow the general preventive measures, social distancing and suggestions mentioned above.

What care should we take at home while pregnant during COVID 19 pandemic?

  • The preventive measures remain the same for all and everywhere, whether at home or going outside/travelling.
  • Social distancing, using face masks, frequent hand wash, including the general measures and suggestion mentioned above.

Is there any special diet recommended to prevent from coronavirus infection?

Currently, there are no specific diet recommendations or guidelines to prevent against coronavirus infection.

Diet modifications could be, however, beneficial for pregnant women who are at risk such as diabetic, obese or other metabolic diseases to especially lower the risk.  But during pregnancy, any diet modifications should always be consulted first with your doctor and then followed as per your body’s needs.

What we should know when travelling while pregnant during COVID 19 pandemic?

  • During this COVID 19 pandemic, it is advised to avoid any kind of non-essential travel, especially if you are pregnant.
  • But if travel is undertaken, it is preferable to use a private vehicle.
  • If public transport is used, distance should be maintained.\
  • Along with maintaining social distance, keep your face & mouth covered.
  • Avoid unnecessary touching of face, eyes and mouth.
  • Do not touch mask in front, wash your hands & remove from strings. Discard mask & again wash hands.

What are the symptoms of COVID 19 infection and are they different in pregnant women?

Usually healthy pregnant women have no particularly higher risks of coronavirus compared to other healthy adults.

  • Most of the otherwise healthy pregnant women, if get infected, may have only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms but co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, respiratory disease, etc., can worsen symptoms due to weakened and compromised immune state.
  • The symptoms could be:
  1. Flu-like symptoms – cough, sore throat, fever, difficulty in breathing, etc.
  2. Pneumonia, hypoxia (reduced oxygen levels) – In case of already existing medical problems like diabetes, asthma.
  3. Fatigue, uneasiness, body ache nausea, and diarrhea – Especially in immune-compromised and elderly pregnant women.

If  get sick from COVID 19 during pregnancy, what steps should I follow?

  • First thing you should do when you feel sick from COVID 19, is self-monitor and report if symptoms arise.
  • After you report to the hospital, you will be tested, isolated in the hospital and further kept under observation and treated as per your symptoms by the healthcare team.

Is it safe to deliver in hospital during COVID 19 pandemic?

  • Yes, it is. In all circumstances, your maternity care providers may continue to provide you required care and support and the procedure goes as usual with special sterilization and hygiene measures.
  • However, birth attendants should be limited to only one person.

Is it fine to let visitors meet my newborn baby at home?
It is advised to minimize visitors (and only 1 attendant with patient) from coming to meet the mother and newborn after delivery.

Are there any effects of breastfeeding during COVID 19 infection?

  • As per the currently available data, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is secreted in breast milk and can be transmitted (spread) to the newborn from infected mother.
  • The main risk for infants of breastfeeding is coming in close contact with the mother, who is also likely to share infective airborne droplets.
  • Therefore, the mother should take few precautions to limit the infection spread:
  1. Hand-wash before touching the baby, breast or bottles.
  2. Use face-mask whenever coming in contact with the baby.

Is there a treatment for a novel coronavirus?

  • Since COVID 19 is a new coronavirus strain, the treatment is symptomatic and based on patient’s clinical condition.
  • Whenever required, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

Are antibiotics effective in treating the coronavirus disease?

  • COVID 19 coronavirus is a virus and the antibiotics are not effective against viruses.
  • Therefore, antibiotics should not be used for either prevention or treatment of coronavirus infection.

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