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Last modified: August 5, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading rampantly around the world, as an expecting parent, you may be anxious. It’s normal to feel worried when you’re stuck at home in a lockdown and you have no idea when things are going to get better. You’re probably wondering how the illness can affect your health and what impact the coronavirus virus has on your newborn.

 

It’s important that you’re completely informed about pregnancy and coronavirus and know how to keep yourself well protected at all times.

 

This guide serves to help you take precautionary measures against COVID-19 and as a pregnant woman, what are all the things you can do to ensure that you go through a safe pregnancy.

You are in a state of uncertainty and are probably asking yourself ‘What would happen if I get coronavirus? How will coronavirus affect pregnancy? Will everything be ok?

 

Everything will be okay if you are cautious and take extra care of yourself. However, if you are caught in a situation where you must step out of the house or end up meeting people outside of your immediate family, there is a chance of contracting the infection. If you are feeling uneasy or even slightly feverish, please self-isolate and call a doctor immediately.

 

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and the symptoms may take time to appear even as long as 20 days.

 

 

Here are some of the symptoms of COVID-19:

1. Fever

A high temperature is one of the earliest symptoms of COVID-19. Your back and neck will feel hot and you’ll feel extremely tired. While it’s possible that the fever may be a normal flu, in these times, it’s better to be cautious. Under normal circumstances, people who are not pregnant are asked to self isolate and stay at home even if they have a fever, after which the health authorities will monitor their condition. But viral fever during pregnancy requires extra care, because it may have an impact on your baby. So, don’t hesitate to call your doctor immediately.

2. Dry Cough

You will experience a new type of continuous dry cough if you’ve caught COVID-19. A dry cough is one where no mucus or phlegm is produced. It feels very hoarse and hollow. And dry coughs can last long. One cough session leaves you exhausted and sometimes with even aching ribs and chest pain.

2. Dry Cough

You will experience a new type of continuous dry cough if you’ve caught COVID-19. A dry cough is one where no mucus or phlegm is produced. It feels very hoarse and hollow. And dry coughs can last long. One cough session leaves you exhausted and sometimes with even aching ribs and chest pain.

3. Tiredness

Pregnancy can be very exhausting as it is. But if you’re infected with the coronavirus, you’ll feel even more drained out. You’ll find yourself in a constant state of lethargy and find it difficult to do basic everyday activities like cooking and cleaning. Even reading a book or watching a movie can become exhausting.

4. Breathing difficulties

Most patients who contract COVID-19 develop symptoms of pneumonia. The level of severity varies depending on age and prior health conditions such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes. If you’re a healthy pregnant woman with a strong immunity, you won’t have much breathing issues. But if you have a history of respiratory illness, you are certainly vulnerable to the serious effects of COVID-19.

4. Breathing difficulties

Most patients who contract COVID-19 develop symptoms of pneumonia. The level of severity varies depending on age and prior health conditions such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes. If you’re a healthy pregnant woman with a strong immunity, you won’t have much breathing issues. But if you have a history of respiratory illness, you are certainly vulnerable to the serious effects of COVID-19.

These are the major ways through which COVID-19 affects pregnant women. The symptoms are not any different for pregnant women, but since your body is undergoing physiological and hormonal changes, you must take extra caution to watch out for these symptoms and seek help immediately. It may end up being an ordinary cold, cough or fever, but remember, you’re carrying a life inside you. Better safe than sorry!

According to preliminary research conducted by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) and Harvard Medical School, pregnant women fall under a vulnerable group for contracting COVID-19, but it’s not something to worry about too much. Since pregnant women need extra care and nutrition, it becomes particularly important to protect them.

 

According to another study conducted by the Department of Medicine, University of San Francisco, because pregnant women are generally in a slightly more immunosuppressed state than others, they have a higher risk of contracting COVID -19

How does the immune system behave during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a mother’s immunity is in a constant state of flux. It vacillates between high and low. Your immunity also suffers from mood swings just like you do. A study by Stanford University’s Department of Medicine succinctly explains how immunity functions in pregnant women.

 

Previously, it was assumed that because the foetus is a foreign body, the body must suppress immunity to accept it. In simple terms, your body is your house and the foetus is an outsider who’s come inside all of a sudden. Your body knows the foetus has no option to stay there but your immune system is being a bit cranky. It’s still not accepting the foetus fully so it starts fighting it, asking it to leave. But you can’t fight your own child, so the body automatically becomes immune compressed. The immune system takes a back seat for some time.

But later studies show that pregnancy cannot continue without battling with the mother’s immunity. The struggle is real and necessary. So the mother’s immunity bounces back from low to high, thus enabling implantation of the embryo and thereon a full-term pregnancy. This flux between high and low immunity protects foetal cells from getting destroyed by the body.

 

The mother also transfers precious antibodies (cells which provide immunity to us) to the child. So you can clearly see how important immunity is during pregnancy!

How does COVID -19 affect the immune system of pregnant women?

When you ingest particles containing the novel COVID-19, it enters your body and behaves just like any other viral infection. It seeps into your respiratory tract and reaches your lungs. In normal flu situations, the virus stays inside the lungs for a while and the immune response is triggered immediately. In the case of COVID-19 however, these particles can stay for a long long time before they decide to strike. And once they do, they spread very quickly.

 

If you have a good immune system, your body fights COVID-19 like a warrior. But if you’re pregnant during which you have fluctuating immunity, your body may succumb to the virus fast. Thus, pregnant women’s immune systems are further weakened thanks to COVID-19. So, it becomes all the more important to protect yourself in these vulnerable times.

 

Read on to find out how you can do that.

What is Social Distancing?

It is a practice that public health specialists advocate to prevent the spread of the novel COVID-19 from a sick person to a healthy person. What this essentially means is stay home, stay away from people as much as you can. Social distancing is difficult to practice because it’s not easy being cooped up inside the house all day. But it’s the only way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

 

 

Here is how to stay safe while socially distancing during pregnancy:

1. Attend all doctor appointments:

As a pregnant woman, you’re aware of how important each appointment with your gynaecologist or fertility specialist is. Therefore, do not miss them under any circumstances. Always wear a mask when stepping out. If you don’t have a mask, use a stole or dupatta to cover your face. Wear a pair of gloves and carry soap or hand sanitizer with you. If you’re fortunate enough to own a car, let a healthy family member drive you to the clinic. At the clinic, don’t sit too close to anyone. Maintain a distance of 6 feet at least. Finish your appointment, wash your hands and come home immediately. Take a shower and wash your mask as well. If you are wearing gloves, do not touch your face or even your mobile after you have touched something outside like a door handle or a railing for example.

 

Prior to your appointment, call up your doctor and find out what precautionary measures they are taking to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

2. Run Errands only if necessary:

Even buying a loaf of bread has become difficult these days. Supply is low and queues are long. If you’re in your mid – later stages of pregnancy, or a single mother or do not have family support, running errands puts a toll on your body. Use local food delivery services to deliver essentials to your doorstep. Wear a mask while receiving essentials and wash your hands immediately. Use a wet cloth dipped in Dettol to wipe all packets, fruits and vegetables. Maintain distance even while receiving your groceries. Ideally, if a neighbour or close acquaintance can help you with these chores, that would be great. For women with partners and family members, don’t step out to run errands.

3. Have home cooked meals:

There is no substitute for a good home cooked meal. Outside food is a no-no for your baby. You need to consume hot healthy foods which boost your immunity and keep you active. Outside food during COVID-19 is dangerous because you don’t know the whereabouts of the delivery personnel. This is a risk you should not take at this hour. Advice your family members to contribute towards cooking and healthy eating.

 

4. Practice Social distancing, not virtual distancing:

Talk to your friends on video call! Keep them updated on your pregnancy and whereabouts. In case of any emergency, it’s always useful to have more helping hands. Talking to people virtually helps avoid physical contact and also gives you a breadth of fresh air from the humdrum quarantine life.

3. Have home cooked meals:

There is no substitute for a good home cooked meal. Outside food is a no-no for your baby. You need to consume hot healthy foods which boost your immunity and keep you active. Outside food during COVID-19 is dangerous because you don’t know the whereabouts of the delivery personnel. This is a risk you should not take at this hour. Advice your family members to contribute towards cooking and healthy eating.

 

4. Practice Social distancing, not virtual distancing:

Talk to your friends on video call! Keep them updated on your pregnancy and whereabouts. In case of any emergency, it’s always useful to have more helping hands. Talking to people virtually helps avoid physical contact and also gives you a breadth of fresh air from the humdrum quarantine life.

Follow these guidelines to practice safe social distancing. It is the single most important factor to keep you and your baby safe from the pandemic. Now that you know how social distancing keeps you safe during pregnancy, let’s look in detail, how you can stay safe while attending prenatal and postnatal appointments.

Antenatal care is crucial to ensure optimal health for you and your growing baby. You must constantly go for doctor checkups diligently, without skipping them. Prenatal checkups ensure that at each stage of the pregnancy, all is well. Post natal check ups are necessary after you give birth to your baby. Since your body undergoes several hormonal and physical changes, it’s important for your obstetrician or fertility specialist to make sure you and your baby are good to go back to normal life.

 

Prenatal and postnatal checkups are easy when there’s no pandemic to throw a wet blanket on your plans. But here you are, stuck at home wondering how you’re going to go for check ups regularly. Don’t worry. We’ve got that covered for you.

 

 

Here are ways through which pregnant women can safely attend checkups during COVID-19:

1. Tele appointment:

Many doctors have found creative ways to stay in touch with their patients. One way to do this is by virtual visits. Set up a video call with your gynaecologist or infertility specialist and discuss your issues in detail. However, this only works if there is no immediate need for a physical examination. Discussions about diet, exercise, weight, and blood pressure can be done at home. For postnatal care, your doctor can check up on your baby through video. Make sure you keep a BP machine at home so that you can check your BP from time to time.

2. Practice Social Distancing:

We’re back to social distancing again. Don’t step out of the house for anything other than pre and post natal checkups. At the clinic, sit away from other patients. Don’t talk to people unless necessary and certainly avoid restrooms and coffee machines in the hospital. Carry your own water bottle.For postnatal care, cover up your baby properly before stepping out. Try staying in the car if you can. If not, sit isolated from everyone else. Ask your doctor for as much privacy as possible.

All hospitals and clinics have social distancing protocols in place, anyway. So follow them to the dot and meet your doctor without any worries.

2. Practice Social Distancing:

We’re back to social distancing again. Don’t step out of the house for anything other than pre and post natal checkups. At the clinic, sit away from other patients. Don’t talk to people unless necessary and certainly avoid restrooms and coffee machines in the hospital. Carry your own water bottle.For postnatal care, cover up your baby properly before stepping out. Try staying in the car if you can. If not, sit isolated from everyone else. Ask your doctor for as much privacy as possible.

All hospitals and clinics have social distancing protocols in place, anyway. So follow them to the dot and meet your doctor without any worries.

3. Make hand washing a habit:

If there’s something that can kill the coronavirus, it’s the humble soap. So wash your hands regularly with soap or an alcohol based hand wash for at least a minute. Carry a hand sanitizer with you to your appointments. Use it before you enter and try not to touch any railings or metallic surfaces. If you need support, carry a walking stick to help you walk better. Wash your hands again after leaving the clinic and when you come home as well.

4. Home appointments:

If you have just given birth and are too afraid to take your baby to a hospital for postnatal check ups, you can arrange for your doctor to come home. However, it is absolutely essential that your doctor follows all guidelines and doesn’t bring the infection home. This helps reduce exposure to other people at the hospital. Many hospitals have now arranged for home appointments, so there’s nothing to worry about.

If you stick to these guidelines and take precautionary measures, you will be able to attend all prenatal and postnatal appointments, without fear.

Pregnancy takes a toll on your body in several ways. So, it’s important to stay calm, eat well and engage in activities that make you happy. Read further to see how you can make this happen!

Pandemics are unexpected. They come out of nowhere and disrupt normal life. We understand how stressful that can be for you, as an expectant mother. Pandemic or not, lifestyle changes are critical to ensure that you stay healthy during this strenuous period.

 

 

Here are lifestyle changes pregnant women need to make to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Exercising:

Gyms and pools have shut their doors on you, but that’s not an excuse to not exercise. Exercising during pregnancy has innumerable benefits. Most exercises are safe to do during pregnancy, as long as you are careful and don’t exert yourself too much. You can try the following exercises:

 

Light Aerobics: Because of the lockdown, you can do light indoor aerobic workouts such as low intensity dancing, climbing stairs, treadmill on a low speed, indoor cycling, step aerobics and light on the spot jogging.

Pilates: To improve balance, strength, flexibility and posture. Pilates require no equipment. You just need a simple mat to get started. You can focus on arm strengthening exercises, simple squats, spinal stretches, crunches and postural exercises as well.

Yoga: Yoga is a great way to stay fit during a lockdown. There are several yoga poses such as the butterfly pose, bridge pose and others which do wonders for your pregnant body. Also, yoga helps your mind relax and helps you stay sane during this hormonal roller coaster!

2. Diet changes:

You are what you eat, but when you’re pregnant, your baby is what you eat! Eat well so that your unborn child gets all the nutrients he/she deserves. Here are some things you must include in your diet:

 

Include fruits and vegetables in your diet: They are rich sources of vitamins, fibers and minerals. Vitamin C helps your baby develop healthy gums and also enables absorption of iron. Eat more green vegetables such as methi, palak and coriander which are rich in iron, vitamin A and folate – important minerals during pregnancy.

Consume whole grains and pulses: Even if you are a non-vegetarian, including vegetarian sources of protein such as dals, cereals and pulses will give your strength and immunity. Dals contain folic acid which is a very important mineral for child development. Lack of folic acid consumption has been linked to some serious birth defects.

Dairy products: Milk, paneer and other healthy milk products provide rich proteins, calcium and vitamin B12 which are very important for the development of your newborn baby.

2. Diet changes:

You are what you eat, but when you’re pregnant, your baby is what you eat! Eat well so that your unborn child gets all the nutrients he/she deserves. Here are some things you must include in your diet:

 

Include fruits and vegetables in your diet: They are rich sources of vitamins, fibers and minerals. Vitamin C helps your baby develop healthy gums and also enables absorption of iron. Eat more green vegetables such as methi, palak and coriander which are rich in iron, vitamin A and folate – important minerals during pregnancy.

Consume whole grains and pulses: Even if you are a non-vegetarian, including vegetarian sources of protein such as dals, cereals and pulses will give your strength and immunity. Dals contain folic acid which is a very important mineral for child development. Lack of folic acid consumption has been linked to some serious birth defects.

Dairy products: Milk, paneer and other healthy milk products provide rich proteins, calcium and vitamin B12 which are very important for the development of your newborn baby.

Eat fish, meat and poultry: Eat grilled meat or meat fried in minimal oil. Fish and lean meats are an excellent source of protein for you.

Keep yourself hydrated: The age old advice still holds true. Water is the single most important part of our diet. Keep sipping plain water throughout your day. If you want to improve the taste, you can filter water through a fruit infusion to get a fresh flavour. Avoid sugary and carbonated drinks at all costs. Limit tea and coffee consumption to a minimum.

3. Other changes:

Make sure that you are putting too much stress on your body. Stress can have a negative impact on your pregnancy. While it’s understandable that these are stressful times, it’s important to stay calm and collected. Practice meditation and breathing exercises. Watch movies which make you feel good. Read good books and keep yourself occupied.

 

Making these lifestyle changes will help you stay hale and healthy during this lockdown and ensure that you have a smooth and stress-free delivery.

There have been cases of many pregnant women across the globe who have been affected by the novel coronavirus. Doctors and medical professionals follow clearly defined protocols and procedures to treat pregnant women with the COVID-19.

 

If by chance you get infected, you need to contact a hospital which specialises in treating COVID-19 patients and then follow their advice. You might be asked to get admitted in a hospital, but the good news is that most pregnant women who are affected have reported good outcomes and even the unborn child is rarely harmed.

Conclusion:

Pregnancy during the coronavirus is stressful, but as long as you are careful and disciplined, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, thanks to wonderful obstetricians, gynaecologists, fertility specialists and medical staff, you will be given utmost care and compassion.

Dr. Manish Banker, a leading fertility specialist in Ahmedabad is helping several couples receive infertility treatment during these tough times and has made sure that his clinic is a safe incubator for all his patients. You can book your appointment and be rest assured that your safety receives the highest priority.

So, stay safe, stay stress free, and embrace the joy of parenthood!

General Myths and FAQs

Can I transfer COVID-19 to my baby?

If the mother has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, it is very much possible for the child to also be covid positive.

Should I take extra precautions during COVID-19 if I’m pregnant?

Pregnant women undergo immunological and physiological changes during pregnancy. Therefore, if you are pregnant, you should take extra precautions such as not going out of your house, washing hands, eating nutritious foods and maintaining social distancing. 

How can I visit my doctor for regular checkups?

If you are pregnant and need to visit your gynaecologist frequently, make sure that the hospital is safe. Convert most of your appointments into teleconsultations and meet your doctor in person only if absolutely necessary. Wear a mask and maintain social distancing at the hospital too. 

Are there increased chances of miscarriage due to the coronavirus?

There is no correlation between increased risk of miscarriage and the diseases as of now. You can be rest assured. 

Should I postpone my infertility treatment because of COVID-19?

If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, it is better to consult with your infertility specialist and make sure things are on track. It’s better to visit a stand-alone infertility center where you don’t have to worry about COVID-19 transmission. 

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