COVID-19, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Breastfeeding | Here is all you need to know!
Dr. Sugandh Goel
Senior Medical Content Writer, BDS, MS (Healthcare Management), Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
- Posted On August 25, 2020
Pregnancy is the most memorable time in a woman’s life marked with new beginnings and hope. But it can be stressful too, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
According to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), at present, there is limited data available on the Indian women to establish a clear link between coronavirus, pregnancy and baby’s health.
Here are 12 frequently asked questions with their scientific evidence-based answers on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding by the team of experts at Fitterfly Pregnancy Wellness Program - PregStar.
- Can I come for my regular check-ups and ultrasounds?
Please ask your doctor. Ideally, you should come only for essential appointments and ultrasounds.
- Am I more prone to get COVID -19 compared to same-age non-pregnant women? If yes, why?
Yes, you are more likely to get COVID-19 infection as compared to same-age other non-pregnant women. All pregnant women have lowered immunity so that their body doesn’t treat their developing baby/fetus as foreign material and fight against it. So to make your baby a part of your own body, nature lowers your immunity. It is a step towards a healthy pregnancy.
- If I have tested positive, can I transmit COVID -19 to my baby during pregnancy?
Not much data is available on this. Mother-to-fetal transmission has not been reported so far during pregnancy. As per latest data, all COVID-19 positive mothers have delivered healthy non-infected babies. But, the possibility of transmission at the time of delivery could be through infected droplets/secretions.
- If I am tested positive for COVID-19, how can I protect my baby at the time of delivery?
You can reduce the risk of transmission by temporarily separating yourself from the baby until you recover from the disease. However, with proper hygiene measures in place, you can both be in the same room.
- If I am tested positive for COVID-19, can I breastfeed my baby? If not, can my baby still get my breastmilk?
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby even after you have tested positive with COVID-19. Mother's milk is considered best for the baby because it is rich in antibodies and essential nutrients. Moreover, the transmission of the virus via the mother's milk has not been reported so far. However, an infected mother must observe all the hygiene practices before handling the infant and before expressing the breast milk like sanitising her hands, breasts/nipples etc.
A healthy caregiver can also stay with the mother to ensure adequate rest for the mother in-between the feeds. If the mother is scared of handling the baby by herself, she can still express her breast milk following strict hygiene measures. After that, the caregiver can feed the expressed breast milk to the baby.
- Should I wear a mouth mask at all times even if I am not tested positive?
It is not required to be worn at all times. Research has proved that a mouth mask which covers the nose and mouth reduces the risk of transmission of infection. Hence, it should be worn in public places at all times.
Additionally, it should be worn by people who are tested positive or those who are directly involved in the care of COVID-19 infected patients.
- Should I cancel/postpone all my travel plans even in the second trimester of pregnancy (considered the safest trimester of pregnancy)?
Yes. In this pandemic, all travel plans should be cancelled. If possible, complete lockdown by all family members living in the same household should be followed.
- Are their special foods/dietary supplements I can take to enhance my immunity? pNot really. Instead of taking special supplements to increase immunity, continue eating a regular healthy balanced diet rich in Vit C (immuno-booster). Have your protein, iron, calcium and omega-3 supplements, as prescribed. You can enrol in our PregStar Pregnancy Wellness Program to plan a healthy diet rich in immuno-nutrients.
- Can I go out for routine grocery/ medication purchase in the current scenario?
Try to avoid. If unavoidable, follow social distancing religiously and take all precautions to maintain correct hygiene to prevent any chance of infection.
- What can I do to release the stress of COVID-19 on myself and my developing baby/fetus?
Diet, rest and exercise play a major role which can help you cope up with the stress associated with this pandemic. Engage yourself in mind relaxing activities like pursuing a hobby, light reading or meditating.
Few general tips:
- First of all, don’t panic.
Studies have shown that stress lowers immunity.
- Drink plenty of water/fluids.
It is advised that pregnant women should drink about 10 glasses of water or other beverages each day. (1 glass/cup measuring 8-ounce each)
- Be physically active.
Keep yourself moving by doing some form of ante-natal exercises e.g. prenatal yoga, light walk indoors, stretching and strengthening exercises. It releases a happiness hormone - endorphin that keeps you happy.
- Bid farewell to junk food.
Avoid processed and packaged foods to stay healthy. The latest research shows that a healthy gut promotes a happy mind.
- Close your ears to unnecessary noise.
Keep away from fake news on social media. It aggravates stress thereby lowering your immunity.
- First of all, don’t panic.
- In case of any infection, how do I maintain sufficient breastfeeds for my baby?
The calmer you are, allows you to maintain the right hormonal support to maintain sufficient milk flow. Try expressing milk from both the breasts 4 hourly with a sterilised breast pump with due personal hygiene precautions. Reserve the other portion for the next feed. This will reduce your effort to repeatedly express and transport the expressed breast milk in sterile conditions.
- Please suggest some quick food tips to prevent any chance of getting infected?
You can include a drink or two of following freshly blended foods with high antioxidant value to your daily meal plans. These are easy to prepare, mouth-watering, fulfilling, refreshing and also great for your immunity.
- Vit C rich citrus fruits such as Indian gooseberry, orange, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and lemons.
- Vit E rich wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and peanut butter.
- Vit A-rich carrots, kale, spinach, apricots and mango.
- You may add omega-3-rich flaxseed and walnuts, and Zinc-rich baked beans, cashews, raisin bran, and chickpeas - the much-needed nutrients in pregnancy.
- Using dried/fresh ginger, turmeric, mint (as mentioned in Ayurveda) boosts immunity and also adds flavour to your shots/smoothies.
Apart from these, many unresolved questions are hovering around in the subconscious of a new momma-to-be. Don’t let this deadly pandemic take a toll on your and your developing baby’s health.
With the Fitterfly Pregnancy Wellness Program - PregStar, pass on your worries to us! Let a dedicated Pregnancy Coach give you personalised guidance on nutrition, physical activity, healthy weight management, childbirth, lactation training and much more.
Why does every mommy-to-be need a Pregstar? Click here to watch the video
To know more about this healthy baby & mommy-friendly program, visit Fitterfly Pregnancy Wellness Program - Pregstar or call us at +91-22-4897 1077.
Pregstar is India’s first-ever mommy-friendly Pregnancy Wellness Program for a new momma-to-be. With the help of a dedicated Pregnancy Coach with several years of experience in pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and babycare - we have designed a program that suits your needs. Get personalised guidance on nutrition, physical activity, healthy weight gain, complications management and much more. Get the care you deserve for your baby’s lifelong health with PregStar.
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