Pregnancy is usually a period of excitement for couples especially First Time Parents. However the anxiety of living in an uncertain time like the Covid-19 pandemic can cloud the experience. You may wonder, what is coronababy? it certainly does not mean your unborn baby has coronavirus. According to Urban Dictionary, it means babies born twelve to sixteen months after the start of the Covid-19 mandatory quarantine pandemic. Our team had an interview with a Certified Doula (CD, DONA), Esther Kimani on how an expecting mum during Covid-19 can prepare for her baby/babies’ arrival.
What should an expecting mum do to keep herself safe during the COVID-19 virus outbreak?
Follow the guidelines by Nigeria Center For Disease Control, this includes:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser if no water and soap is available
- Use a non-medical face mask/covering for all persons while in public spaces. The NCDC has published an advisory on the use of face cloth masks
- Practice no-touch greetings
- Maintain at least 2 meters physical distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Avoid crowded spaces such as open markets, crowded supermarkets and pharmacies
- Adhere to other national and state directives
Ensure you eat a balanced diet and drink lot of water to keep yourself hydrated as this would help boost your immunity.
What questions should I, as a pregnant woman, be asking my healthcare professional?
Here are the possible questions you should asking your doctor:
- What are the precautions taken by the hospital to protect me and my baby?
- Can I come with birth support?
- What happens if I have Covid-19 but I am in labor?
- Must I do a Covid-19 test before admission when i want to give birth?
- Am I at risk of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in this space? Has someone else been here with the Covid-19 virus?
- Am I allowed to keep my baby with me? If not, why not?
- Am I able to breastfeed my baby? If not, why not?
- Am I allowed to give birth vaginally or do you give Cesarean section sooner? If so, why is that?
Is it safe to continue physical prenatal check-ups?
Prenatal check-ups are very important for your health well being and baby’s growth. Find out from your health care provider if they have physical appointments or plan to go very early so that you are among the first on the queue. You may also speak to your healthcare provider about the safest way to have these appointments, for you and your baby.
If I have coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will I pass it to my baby?
Medically, it is not proven that coronavirus can be passed to babies during pregnancy or at birth. The virus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk so its necessary for a pregnant woman to protect herself and unborn baby with the necessary precautions to avoid contacting the virus.
What can I expect when I arrive at the hospital?
This depends on the hospital, your vitals will be taken and if found within the normal range, you should be able to proceed to the labor ward. If you do have a fever or other symptoms, you may be taken to an isolation room where you will be attended to by the health professionals.
Can my partner or family member be nearby when I give birth?
It is important to have birth support during labor as it improves the birth experience. Most hospitals will allow at least one support person to accompany you.
Can I have visitors at home after birth?
It is safe to avoid visitors at this time because some of them might have coronavirus but are asymptomatic thereby increasing the risk of you, your newborn. Take videos and pictures to share with family and friends instead or have live conversations with them on zoom.
How do I cope emotionally with a new baby during a pandemic?
Prepare your space by having all supplies like groceries, diapers etc set before baby if possible, think through your support system, who will cook for you? And plan on how they can also keep safe, join online support groups that help you stay connected to other mums etc. Think of how to get ‘me’ time, where you can get a break (take a walk, watch a movie etc).
How can I safely breastfeed my baby during pandemic?
Breastfeeding is your baby’s best defence to all infections so it’s important to continue to nurse your baby.
Wash your hands before and after touching your baby.
Wear a mask while nursing if you have Covid-19 or express the breast milk bottles to store.
Wash your hands before touching your breast pump or bottle parts. Clean all parts after each use.
How many postnatal appointments will I have?
First this depends on the procedures of the Hospital where you receive care. However, you may need 1 after 10 days after birth to check both you and baby subject to whether you gave birth vaginally or via Cesarean section. There is also routine check up at 6 weeks after birth. The rest of the visits will be dependent on your baby’s vaccination schedule.
Thank you Esther for sharing insight to questions moms to be at the uncertain time may have. If you have more questions for Esther, you can write them in the comment section. Stay positive, Stay safe.