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Coronavirus: Four things every pregnant woman must know

More than 370 infections, six deaths and communities resisting attempts to set up isolation centres in their neighbourhoods. A lockdown in some parts of the country and the government’s water and electricity freebies.  That is the summary of Ghana’s fight against coronavirus, which has left billions of people across the world quarantined while thousands of others battle for their lives on hospital beds that are fast running out.

As Ghanaians have been advised to adhere to some protocols to stay safe, there have been concerns among expectant parents about how the illness could affect their pregnancies and the health of their newborns.

This is because pregnant women are at higher risk for many infections because pregnancy suppresses the immune system. Some illnesses can impact the health of the foetus, but there has not been any research yet, to show how COVID-19 could affect the pregnancy.

Theghanareport.com spoke to a Specialist Gynecologist at the Weija-Gbawe municipal hospital, Dr Jospeh Lawerter, about the likelihood of a utero transmission, the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and some advice to pregnant women during the period of the coronavirus outbreak in Ghana.

1. What do we know about COVID-19 and pregnancy?

This kind of coronavirus as we know is novel. It is new and so there is not enough literature on the disease as at yet. But as we know, it is a respiratory disease and no literature has proven that there is that vertical transmission of a mother-to-child infection, Dr Lawerter said.

His comments corroborate research conducted and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

According to the research, pregnant women do not appear to pass the virus onto their babies.

The research sampled data from 43 pregnant women diagnosed with coronavirus in New York between March 13 and 27.

37 women experienced a mild form of coronavirus.

Four developed more severe forms.

Only two experienced “critical disease.”

  1. Are pregnant women at a higher risk of contracting the virus?

According to Dr Joseph Lawerter, there is no scientific research to suggest pregnant women are at a higher risk of contracting the infection.

But he says because expectant mothers often have low immunity throughout their pregnancy, they are at the risk of succumbing to the disease compared to those who are not pregnant.

He also likens it to persons with severe health underlying conditions.

“If you compare pregnant women to women who are not pregnant, pregnant women have a high chance of succumbing to the coronavirus than those who are not pregnant”, he says.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “due to changes in their (pregnant women) bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections”.

But Dr Lawerter says it important for expectant mothers to eat healthy to boost their immune systems.

“Because pregnant women have low immunity during pregnancy, they must eat healthy meals”.

pregnant woman eating a peach - Top Tips for Eating Right During Pregnancy
File photo
  1. Can COVID-19 be passed to utero, during birth, or through breastfeeding?

It is a fact that some viruses like HIV, Hepatitis, Herpes, just to mention a few can be transmitted from the mother to the fetus in utero.

But when asked whether the situation is the same with the coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr Lawerter says no research has established that yet.

According to the world health regulatory body, the World Health Organization (WHO), it has not been proven if that transmission is possible.

“We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus, or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk,” it said.

4. How can pregnant women and parents of newborns do to protect themselves from COVID-19?

Dr Lawerter advises pregnant women especially to strictly adhere to the safety protocols during the period.

These safety protocols include social distancing, personal hygiene practices like washing hands regularly and use hand sanitizers regularly.

Also, Dr Joseph Lawerter says it is not advisable to continue to breastfeed your baby once you begin to show symptoms of coronavirus.

He advised lactating mothers and pregnant women to immediately report to their Doctors when they experience signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    Hmmm reason why I’m scared anytime my wife is visiting the hospital. May the Almighty Allah guide us

  2. BS says

    The Lord knows his people. He will see us through. God be with us all in Jesus name

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