COVID-19 and Pregnancy: FAQ Part II
Q. Will I be required to get tested if I am pregnant even if I have no symptoms?
Since there is limited availability of tests in the country, you will not be required to be tested for COVID-19 if you do not present any flu like symptoms or don’t have an international travel history to the affected regions. However, if you have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for the disease, you can call the State Helpline Number or Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India’s 24×7 helpline: 011-2397 8046, they will explain the testing protocols of COVID-19 to you. If you do qualify, you will be tested at a Government approved facility.
The test will involve a mouth and nose swab or coughing up of sputum.
Q. What happenswhen I test positive for coronavirus?
There are strict guidelines in place set by the Government of India with respect to home quarantine for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you test positive, you will be kept in isolation until you develop symptoms and are given the treatment as per existing guidelines.
However, if you test negative, you will be monitored for 14 days after you were last in contact with a COVID-19 patient.
Note: There are no recommendations specific to the management or diagnosis of suspected pregnant patients of the disease.
Q. What steps will be taken to ensure my baby’s health after I recover from COVID-19?
An ultrasound scan will be provided to a pregnant patient 14 days after her recovery, to ensure your baby’s health. If you test negative for COVID-19 before you go into labour, the birthing process and your health will remain unaffected by the virus.
Q. If I am suffering from the disease, how will it affect my birthing plan?
Till date, there is no evidence that suggestsany required changes in your birth plan and women who plan to give birth vaginally can continue to do so.
However, if you start to suffer from respiratory distress due to the diseaseand your overall health starts to deteriorate, a caesarean birth may be recommended by your doctor. There is also no evidence that restricts women from opting for an epidural or a spinal block if they are suspected or confirmed patients of COVID-19. Feel free to discuss all your options with your healthcare team.
Q. Can a mother transfer the disease to hernewborn baby?
With negligible research, there is limited knowledge about the steps a mother can take to ensure her baby is protected from the disease once she has tested positive. However, a mother can take the following precautions:
- Refrain from touching the baby without washing her hands
- Clean the breast before and after every feed
- Make sure the baby doesn’t spend time with other members of the family
Q. Cana baby be tested for coronavirus?
If at the time of his/her birth the baby’s mother is a confirmed patient of COVID-19, the baby may be tested as well.
Q. What steps will I be required to take after I give birth if am infected with the disease?
This decision will be up to the mother. If the baby is healthy and doesn’t require special neonatal care, he/she will not be separated from the mother as this can hamper the baby’s feeding habits and mother-baby bonding.
Your doctor can guide you through the safety measures and explain the risks and benefitsof staying with your baby.
Q. Will I be allowed to breastfeed my baby if I am a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient?
Currently, no evidence suggests that breastmilk is a carrier of the virus. Subsequently, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus. If the mother continues to wear a mask and gloves while handling the baby and practices strict hand & breast hygiene, in all likelihood the baby should be fine.
Breastfeeding mothers can take the following precautions to protect their babies:
- Wash hands before touching the baby, breast pump or milk/water bottles
- Cover your mouth or avoid coughing or sneezing when you are holding or feeding your baby
- Always wear a face mask when feeding the baby
- Clean all baby utensils, toys, clothes thoroughly and regularly
- If you are scared for the baby’s health, ask a healthy family member to feed the baby with expressed milk
Q. I am a pregnant healthcare worker, what precautions can I take to ensure the safety of my baby?
This is a difficult time for all pregnant women, especially the ones who work in the healthcare industry. However, pregnant professionals are no more at risk for the disease than their non-pregnant counterparts. But as explained above, deteriorating health of the mother can have an adverse effect on her baby.
Discuss your nature of work and the safety measures with your superiors and your healthcare team.
The Central Helpline Number for corona-virus: +91-11-23978046
Maharashtra Help Line 020-26127394
The Helpline Email ID for corona-virus : firstname.lastname@example.org