Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Common Questions about being pregnant in the time of Covid:

It's a weird and uncertain time of us all, regardless of location, social economic status, age etc. However, if you're pregnant it can be particularly stressful and even scary. Let's not dwell on that though, and instead - let's look at how you and your baby can get through this time, safely.

I recently did an Instagram LIVE, on COVID and pregnancy, with Dr. Vanshika Gupta Adukia of TherHappy.  To read more about her, click here. She is a certified lactation and birthing expert and a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
The live is also still available on IGTV, click here for part 1. and here (for part 2).

Here are some of the common pregnancy and COVID-19 questions we got, and their answers:

1. What appointments are absolutely necessary to step out for?
There were a number of questions about this one, but unfortunately regardless of which appointment you are up for - it depends on your doctor. They will evaluate your risk profile (of the pregnancy), and the stage you are at, and decide whether it is worth it. Make sure to ask where you have to go (and avoid hospitals if you can), choose a clinic visit instead, or even a home test if feasible.

2. Should I have an elective C section?
Having had 2 natural-ish deliveries (I say naturalish as there's nothing about shoving a cantaloupe size baby out of you that's natural), I would not advocate this unless necessary. Nor am I advocating it now. However, I bring it up because its a commonly asked question and something that you may need to keep in mind depending on how close you are to delivery and how bad things are in your area. If your doctor recommends it, based on availability and safety at the hospitals they work at, keep an open mind. It is something that you should go with your instinct on, or trust your doctor about. You can also ask if induction is an option, however, the success of this depends on several factors like the baby's station, and position, so it will ultimately be your physicians call. Do keep an open mind though.

3. Why is your immunity compromised during pregnancy?
Pregnancy doesn't necessarily weaken the immune system but it does change it. Some responses are stronger but many are different - the body is trained to change so that we do not view the foetus as an invader and attack it. Also, hormone levels do cause changes in our immune system. These do make us more susceptible to infections like Covid. Particularly, respiratory issues, can act up because the lungs tend to be compressed by the diaphragm, given the amount of space the growing child in your uterus is taking up. So those pregnant are considered to be at high risk do need to be even more careful at this time.

4. How do we boost immunity during pregnancy?
Be regular with your prenatal vitamins and add vitamin C (if your doctor allows it - which will depend on your reflux, if any). You can get the needed vitamins and boosters through food though - citrus fruits, bell peppers, ginger, almonds and yoghurt all work well for boosting immunity. Keeping an eye on your gut health also helps here.
Don't forget to capture your baby bump yourself!

5. What happens if I test positive while pregnant?
Well, the good news is that Covid isn't passed down vertically. Which means that your baby cannot catch it from you - while in utero. Your physician and everyone else around you can, and is likely to be more cautious, so do not be alarmed by this. Also, try and stay home and rest as much as you can during the isolation period. While the isolation will be the same as what everyone else goes through - your medications and treatment protocol will be different. Go with what your doctor says, and keep in mind that even something like steaming which is known to help, may not be safe for you (as it raises your body temperature). Your doctor will design your treatment protocol based on your risk, and how far along you are. Keep that in mind.

6. What if I live with someone who cannot stay home (or is an essential personnel)?
I have a close friend in this situation and it is not an easy situation to be in. I also know multiple pregnancy couples where they stayed separately initially so that she is not exposed to anything her husband picks up while going in and out of the house. That being said - this is not a luxury that everyone has, so if you do live with someone who has to get out, make sure they come home, don't touch anything and go straight for a bath - hot water bath. And that their clothes are washed separately, and utensils are kept separate too. They need to keep sanitising, as do you. Observe all necessary and possible precautions, including using a mask and gloves when needed.

7. How do I deliver if I test positive?
You can still deliver, but the doctors will take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and the team, so do not be astounded if you do not see the staff getting too close to you, or doing too many check ups. Keep in mind that if the staff gets sick, they can pass this on to your baby post birth, so it's in the best interest of your child too.

8. What are current hospital policies I should be aware of?
A lot of hospitals are not allowing visitors in, including your spouse, even at the time of delivery. This is really scary to many, however, this is an individual hospital policy, and as lockdown measures start to relax, this will eventually get better too. Do talk to your doctor though to make sure you have all you need, and you can even talk to the nursing staff and make sure they know what you need too (other than your spouse, unfortunately).
bigger and bigger...
9. Can I have family and friends visit the baby?
Whether you're in hospital or back at home - do avoid this. It's not easy, but it's in the best interest of you and your baby, at least right now. Once things start to slow down, and the numbers ease of then yes - people you know who are safe and have observed the lockdown can be welcomed by you. With masks and sanitiser in abundance of course.

10. Can I nurse my baby if I tested positive?
While you can't pass covid on to your baby in utero, you can pass it on to your newborn. So until you have retested and tested negative, it is better to pump and have someone else feed your baby than to feed directly. It can't be easy - having to stay away from your newborn, but it's extremely temporary in the long run of things so please take every precaution to protect your baby first.

11. Is all hospital staff being tested regularly?
No! Testing kits are in short supply and in most places they are only testing people who have symptoms (and majority of cases seem to not have any symptoms), so all hospital staff is not being tested. This did differ initially though based on hospital policy, though currently, due to government regulations only symptomatic cases are being tested.

12. What precautions can we take in the time of Covid-19?
The easiest way to know what to clean is to look at anything and everything that comes from outside as if it could be carrying Covid. Vegetables, fruits, staff, shoes, clothes, people, everything. Leave shoes outside the door, sanitise packages, handle things with gloves and masks, keep wipes and sanitiser at the door of your house, and make sure everything and everyone coming in is cleaned. Packages should be wiped down and left open for 4-5 hours before they are touched. It's not easy to be so vigilant, but when you are pregnant, it is definitely a necessity.

13. Can you order take out at this point?
A lot of people would say not to. I personally, at 9 weeks now, can't do without my one meal out a week - I consider it essential. So I would say this is a personal call, but if you are ordering out please be vigilant about cleaning everything, leaving it out and even reheating food as a precaution.

14. We are all home, is this the right time to conceive, or plan a baby?
After everything I've just written, I don't think it sounds fun to be pregnant right now.  More stressful, I would imagine, with concern about getting to the doctor, deliveries and appointments. I think a lot of us have to write off this year - financially and otherwise. Maybe best to wait, though if you are still keen, talk to your gynaecologist.

15. Is it okay to mourn the things I've lost like baby showers and a maternity photo shoot?
Yes, these are unusual and scary times to say the least. I went in to pre term labor the second time, (with a 2 and a half year old hoovering around), and had to delay and then finally cancel my maternity photo shoot (and a surprise baby shower that I didn't know about, but since I had one the first time around it was the photo shoot with my son and pups that I was upset about). So yes it's okay to mourn what you have lost, but its also great to pick yourself up and make the best of the time you have - do digital photo shoots (there are tons of videos on how you can do this, and also photographers who will work with you on FaceTime!), and you can have a virtual baby shower too. It's not ideal, but it will lift your spirits and in the long run be something that you will look back on (hopefully fondly).


These are unusual and trying times - for everyone, but especially for you. Pregnancy can be nerve wracking without all the added stress of covid. However, this will all be over soon. The nightmare we are living through and your pregnancy too, and you will soon have your arms so full you won't be to think beyond that (for a little while). So take the time at home to plan, to rest to breathe and just to be you for a little while longer.

I hope this helps mamas, good luck to all and do feel free to reach out with questions!
Much love and more to come!

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