Coronavirus (Covid-19) has been occupying our world for more than a year now and has upended family lives all over. Here are some answers to questions about coronavirus and pregnancy.
Do Pregnant women/expecting mother have a higher chance of getting Coronavirus (Covid-19)?
If pregnant women are more likely to get coronavirus infection than others? There is no literature to corroborate this fact but because of the changes women go through during pregnancy, they might be more susceptible to some infections.
Infected pregnant women are likely to have a more severe illness than non-pregnant women. So, it is important to protect yourself by following all recommended precautions:
• Wear a mask when out in public and around other people.
• Wash their hands well and often or use hand sanitizer
• Try not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay away from sick people.
• Stay at least 6 feet away from strangers.
• Clean and disinfect things that people touch a lot, like phones, doorknobs, and counters.
• Taking COVID 19 vaccine is safe in pregnancy.
How can mothers of infants protect their children?
Breastfeeding is the cornerstone of infant and young child survival, nutrition and development and maternal health. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years and beyond?
At present, data is not sufficient to conclude vertical transmission of Covid-19 through breastfeeding. In Infants, the risk of Covid-19 infection is low, the infection is typically mild or asymptomatic, while the consequences of not breastfeeding and separation between mother and child can be significant.
How to protect infants?
The most important way to protect infant would be to protect your own self. However, if mother is infected with Covid-19 infection, she should follow the precautionary measures from preventing her child to get infected as follows:
1. Stay away from baby when not feeding , let some other care taker handle the baby who are not infected with Covid-19.
2. Wash hands thoroughly when touching the baby for either feeding or changing nappies or bathing if no help is available.
3. Wear mask all the time when close to the baby, within a distance of one meter.
4. No need of making infants wear a mask, it is not advisable.
5. Change your clothes 2-3 times a day.
6. Take your treatment as per the guidance of your attending physician, mention about you breastfeeding your child.
7. Drink plenty of fluids, warm water and healthy food, to keep your nutrition build up.
8. The virus may not pass from mother to baby in womb. But if a pregnant woman gets infected, the COVID antibodies formed can transfer to the baby in the womb and cause POST COVID syndrome.
A feeding mother can vaccinate herself with Covid-19 vaccine and still breastfeed her baby, there is no side effects to the baby, as seen in various studies.
How should parents protect teenagers from getting infected?
Being a teenager is difficult no matter what and social distancing which is the key to prevent COVID infection is the utmost difficult thing for them to do. It becomes especially important to educate and counsel regarding this.
Apart from protecting them from getting the infection which may be asymptomatic or mild, we are faced with lots of teenagers facing social and mental issues due to no social interaction, loss of family members, schools’ closures, event cancellations etc. How can we help them in this?
• Validate their anxiety and listen to them
• Create distractions and enrol them in things they would like to do
• Reduce screen timings and engage in hands on activities
• Make them take responsibilities for household work
• Physical workout and exercises can help in not only building immunity but also in relieving the anxiety
• All teenagers have to be urged to take COVID 19 vaccination if age permits.
It is the will and responsibility of all citizens to fight this infection.