Let me begin by sending you a warm virtual hug and let’s follow it up with knowing what to do to stay safe through this period.
Two facts about pregnancy and the COVID-19 pandemic
This is what we know so far
- Just because you are pregnant you are NOT more likely to get infection with the virus or suffer more. This is wonderful news because pregnancy typically lowers immunity. However, if you have diabetes, hypertension, lung, heart and kidney diseases the chances of your having more serious disease increase.
- So far there is no evidence of infected mothers passing on the infection to their babies in the womb.
How to avoid getting the COVID-19 disease
- Social Distancing –
Assume that everyone is infected and stay away from everyone.
- Stay at home.
- Work from home
- Maintain a distance of at least one meter when interacting with family members especially those who go out of the house.
- Avoid allowing maids and other staff members into the house.
- Stay in a separate room as much as possible.
- If possible don’t share the toilet.
- Avoid sharing fomites –
- Don’t share soap toothpaste etc.
- Do not share towels, bedsheets and pillows.
- Have a separate spoon, plate and glass
- Wash your hands frequently –
- Do not touch your face –
- Wear a mask –
- Use a triple layered homemade cotton mask
- Don’t keep adjusting the mask.
- Change the mask every 4 hours
- Wash it in soap and water and sun dry.
- Don’t touch the outer surface of the mask.
- Wash your hands after changing.
- Respiratory hygiene –
Cough or sneeze into a tissue and immediately discard it in a covered bin and wash hands.
If you can’t – do the elbow sneeze.
Image source: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/water”>Water photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com</a>
- Disinfect surfaces –
- Use 70% alcohol solution to clean.
- Avoid receiving groceries.
- Eat food cooked at home –
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Do not overdo any food hoping it will protect you from infection.
- Do not take any medicines without asking your doctor –
Do not believe rumors about drugs that can cure/prevent COVID-19 infection. They can be dangerous during pregnancy.
- Avoid religious/social gatherings –
Do the 7th and 9th month ceremony and baby shower online.
- Prefer online consultations –
Ask your doctor if you can consult online. Ultrasound scans and other tests are essential but check with your doctor before getting them done.
- Report contact with COVID-19 cases
According to Govt. of India close/ direct contact is defined as – living in the same house, travelling together by any conveyance, working in the same room.
Extra precautions to be taken before and during delivery
- Ask your hospital if they need you to get tested for COVID-19 before admission. If yes – get the test done a week before due date so that you are not in a difficult spot when you need to be admitted.
- Eat healthy food rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants in the weeks leading up to delivery to build your immunity. Antioxidants are present in a fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Buy locally and eat fresh. Avoid packaged food. Use haldi, jeera, dhania, lahsun to season your food. They build immunity.
- Avoid drinking cold water. Sip warm water. Keep yourself warm and well covered at all times.
- Avoid A/C environments and prefer fresh air and sunlight. Circulating air and UV rays keep you safe from infection.
- Do stretching and walking inside the house. More immune substances are produced in people who are active.
- Do the deep breathing exercises that you have learnt in your prenatal classes. Getting air to enter the deepest areas of the lungs is the only way to keep the lungs healthy. Deep breathing is also very important for you to successfully deliver your baby.
- Chanting is wonderful way of combating stress. Do some chanting during the day.
How to stay safe from the stress of isolation
Image source: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People photo created by yanalya – www.freepik.com</a>
How to stay safe from the stress of isolation
- Connect virtually with friends and family
- Sleep enough
- Do not constantly clean the house
- Order baby clothes and other essentials online. Enjoy stress free shopping.
- Avoid secondhand cigarette smoke if you live in a house with a smoker.
How to prepare for delivery
- Stay calm –
So far there are no recommendations to induce labour or deliver by a certain route in preference to another in case of COVID-19 disease.
- Monitor your baby’s movements
- Attend an online prenatal class to learn the difference between true and false labour pain.
- Pack your hospital bag with enough cleaning products and masks.
Worry will not help. Take action. Stay updated with and follow latest government recommendations and stay safe.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops at schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents and infant care classes for new parents