The effects of the COVID-19 virus on the world cannot be overemphasised, but for some groups of people, it hits different. Pregnancy is a life-changing event with symptoms and illnesses that sometimes differ in women, but each illness is as uncomfortable as the next. Postpartum mothers are not left out of it because some mothers tend to suffer from baby blues and even postpartum depression. Imagine then all these combined with the COVID-19 virus. It is a whole lot to handle. That’s why pregnant women are always advised to get tested for COVID-19 testing and get the vaccines as soon as possible.
COVID-19 testing tend to be crowded, especially in populated areas. Pregnant women need to be cared for and attended to with respect. Some pregnant women may have reservations about the COVID-19 tests and vaccination, so health workers should be able to assure them that both are safe and highly recommended.
A pregnant woman is equally prone to contracting the COVID-19 virus as another person. Still, when they do, it is a more severe case than a non-pregnant woman getting the virus because pregnant women are more likely to have severe illnesses. They might even have to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in some cases. It’s usually riskier for older women, women with pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, and overweight women. There’s also the issue of pregnancy complications because of the virus, but on the bright side, it is only in sporadic cases that the virus can infect the foetus. Although, for safety purposes, after birth, the baby should be tested, isolated from other babies, and cared for specially. In truth, these complications can be avoided, if pregnant women get vaccinated. There are questions about whether a pregnant woman with the COVID-19 virus has to give birth by caesarean section, and the answer is no. Caesarean section is only recommended when necessary, and the pregnant woman has the right to choose her preferred mode of birth.
Suppose a symptomatic mother contracts the virus during her postpartum period. In that case, she can still breastfeed her baby, but with all the necessary precautionary steps taken, like washing of hands before and after carrying the baby, wearing a facemask, and disinfecting near surfaces. The baby should be held skin-to-skin while being fed. Alternatively, if the mother cannot handle breastfeeding at that time, the baby should be fed expressed breast milk by a trusted, healthy caregiver until the mother fully recovers. In this case, she has to wash her hands thoroughly and put on a facemask before pumping. It is not yet certain that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted to the baby through breast milk, but it is unlikely.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a study, discovered that breast milk samples from 3 mothers involved contained the COVID-19 virus, while 43 samples tested negative. Also, it is highly recommended that breastfeeding mothers be vaccinated rather than wait till after breastfeeding. The vaccine can induce COVID-19 antibodies in the mother which could seep into the breast milk and serve as a protective agent for the baby.
In conclusion, COVID-19 has its effects on pregnant and postpartum women, and that is why it is best for them to get tested and vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
Pregnant women should have frequent visits to their obstetrician-gynaecologists (ob-gyn) to help with decisions concerning the COVID-19 testing and vaccination and other pregnancy-related issues. They should also be able to do their research and ask questions every step of the way. Pregnant and postpartum women deserve all the care and help they can get, and it is only fitting to take care of them more in cases where they are affected by the COVID-19 virus during these delicate periods.