On Friday last week, my eight-months-pregnant wife woke me up in the middle of the night. She was shocked after watching a viral video on social media featuring a heavily pregnant British woman, sick with COVID-19, pleading with people to stop going out amid the virus outbreak. Like her, she was afraid that other pregnant women could contract the flu-like illness easily and could pass it to the unborn baby.
I consoled her enough to help her get back to sleep, yet to honest, I am also very anxious. Our baby girl, and our first child, is due especially since our baby girl, our first child, will be due in the next few weeks. To us, our child is a gift from God and a strong bond in our marriage, and like other parents, we don’t want anything to happen to her. But worrying isn’t helpful, so I decided to find out the facts and share them with all you other parents-to-be out there.
It is a common belief that pregnant women have weaker immune systems. While this isn’t always true, studies have proven they are more susceptible to colds, the flu, food poisoning and urinary infections.
“The alterations in the immune system result in increased susceptibility to certain viral, bacterial and parasitic infections,” explains Dr James Betoni, a board-certified expert in high-risk maternal foetal medicine and OBGYN,
However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that for now it does not know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the rest of the population. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has claimed there is no evidence that pregnant women will display more severe symptoms than others if they do catch the virus. And while there have been some cases of babies being born with COVID-19, further research shows that they and young children are known to experience only mild symptoms, which is certainly reassuring.
So how should mums-to-be protect themselves from COVID-19? Our doctor suggests following the same precautions as everyone else. These are:
Washing your hands often with soap or sanitiser with a minimum alcohol content of 60 percent.
Avoid touching your face and high traffic surfaces such as door handles and lift buttons. Wash your hands after passing money. Also avoid close contact with others – social distancing – and avoid crowded places such as markets.
Work from home if possible. Pregnant women should start their maternity leave early if they can; something my wife has now done.
If you develop a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, stay at home and call your local health care services for advice. Don’t forget to mention that you are pregnant. If you do have COVID-19, you have to call your midwife or antenatal care provider and inform them and request instructions on how to proceed with antenatal care appointments and delivery plans during the course of your illness.
To get through this anxious time, leading Cambodian psychiatrist Dr Ka Sunbaunat says it’s key for mums-to-be and new mums to take care of their mental wellbeing. Stress, depression and anxiety can harm both mother and baby. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food and relaxing wherever possible will help combat mental-health issues, but if you need to seek professional help, do it. Family members can play their part by offering lots of love and care – all those other super papas out there, take note!