The global coronavirus pandemic has meant adjusting to a new normal, and for expectant moms, this has meant an increased level of fear for both their health and that of their unborn child.
Pregnancy is already a tough journey, and the additional anxiety may have your mind racing with what-if questions.
With the what-if factor now above and beyond the usual, expectant mothers might find the following resources well placed in easing their fears at this time.
From government-led campaigns to private maternity care providers, here are a number of resources moms-to-be have access to while they wait for their due date.
Mediclinic Baby shared a handy FAQs guide
Mediclinic has provided answers to some of the common questions moms-to-be ask as they wait for their due date, see below:
Am I more likely to get the virus because I'm pregnant?
In general, pregnant women are more susceptible to infections than women who are not pregnant.
While there is still much to learn about this new virus, there is currently no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at higher risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus than the general population.
If you do contract the disease, it is most likely that you will only experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. These include sore throat; fatigue; dry cough and a fever.
However, if you suffer from an underlying condition such as asthma or diabetes, contracting the coronavirus may make you feel more unwell.
What about my unborn baby?
For pregnant women who are infected with the coronavirus, it seems that there is no increased risk of miscarriage or having a baby with abnormalities.
At the moment, there is also no evidence to suggest that a pregnant woman can pass on the virus to her unborn baby.
While there may be a higher risk of your baby being born prematurely, the research on this is not yet conclusive.
How can I protect myself against becoming infected with the virus?
Personal hygiene, especially handwashing, is the most effective way of preventing infection. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol gel where there is no soap and water.
Try to ensure that there is always 1.5m of physical distance between you and the next person to avoid breathing in any respiratory droplets that are expelled through coughing or sneezing.
Try to avoid closed or crowded spaces where there is limited airflow. Drinking enough fluids, eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest will aid your immunity against infection.
What should I do if I think I have been exposed to the virus or may have it?
If you think you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or suspect that you may have it, because you've developed symptoms, it is important that you do not simply visit your doctor's rooms as this may spread the infection.
Rather call your doctor or the Mediclinic COVID-19 hotline on 0860 24 00 24 and discuss your symptoms and concerns.
They will provide advice on whether you should be tested or assessed by your doctor. You should also self-isolate for 14 days or until the results are confirmed.
What if I test positive?
If your symptoms are mild, you will be advised to stay at home to recover. If your symptoms are severe, you may have to be treated in hospital.
What should I do if I am worried about my baby during self-isolation?
To avoid the risk of infecting others, it is not advisable to visit your doctor or health facility unless it is clinically necessary, you should rather call your doctor or health facility for advice.
If you are advised to go to a hospital, then you should inform the hospital prior to admission that you have tested positive for the virus or suspect that you may be infected with the virus.
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How will my confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection affect where I give birth?
Once you have informed your doctor or health facility of your suspected or confirmed infection, you may be advised to give birth in an obstetric unit where your baby can be monitored regularly.
Since these monitors are only available in an obstetric unit in a hospital, homebirths or births where only a midwife is present, are not advised.
How will my confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection affect how I give birth?
Your coronavirus status should not affect how you give birth, so you should stick to your birth plan as far as possible. A caesarean section may be necessary if you develop respiratory complications from the infection.
Options for pain relief will be discussed with you early on during labour. Currently, there is no evidence against using methods such as epidurals or spinal blocks to relieve pain.
What if I go into labour during self-isolation?
You should call your doctor and the Mediclinic hospital where you have booked to inform them that you have a suspected or confirmed case of the coronavirus and have gone into labour. They will provide advice on how to proceed.
What care will I receive once I have recovered?
To ensure that your baby is well, you will most probably have an ultrasound scan two weeks after your recovery. Once you have recovered from the coronavirus infection, when and how you give birth will not be affected by your previous illness.
Will my baby be tested for the coronavirus?
The evidence is changing daily and your paediatrician will discuss this with you at the time.
Will I be able to touch my baby if I have suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
If your baby is well and doesn't require neonatal care, then it is extremely likely that your baby will be handed to you after giving birth and will be able to stay with you while you're in hospital.
Do you have more questions regarding your pregnancy and Covid-19? Let us know. Share your concerns with us.
Further support for pregnant women
The Birthing Team
While the lockdown has left many of us shut-in, antenatal care is set to continue says the Birthing Team, a local healthcare provider making affordable private maternity care available to uninsured women.
“Obstetric and antenatal care are considered essential services, which will continue despite the nationwide lockdown,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and Head of the Birthing Team.
Dr Manyonga says that pregnant women need not fear leaving their home to attend vital antenatal care appointments, as hospitals are putting sanitary measures in place to ensure strict social distancing and limited interpersonal contact.
“Important visits should not be postponed... We need to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well.”
And if ever in doubt or fear that exposure has occurred, Dr Manyonga urges moms-to-be to make use of the Department of Health’s 24-hour emergency line on 0800 029 999.
A healthcare professional will visit their home and screen them for the virus.
The Message for Mothers service
The National Department of Health-led campaign Side by Side has teamed up with several NGOs (including Embrace, Perinatal Mental Health Project, and Grow Great) in launching the Messages for Mothers (M4M) initiative.
The service is free and provides simple messages that answer the frequently asked questions mothers have about COVID-19.
M4M hopes to provide mothers with credible, evidence-based information while also providing them with the kind of support that reminds them that they are not alone.
Follow this link to access the M4M resources: Pmhp.za.org/messages-for-mother
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