The Covid-19 pandemic is dangerous to everyone. Pregnant women are among those who have a higher risk of infection and of having severe outcomes.
The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study showing that the rate of Covid-19 infection in Washington is 70% higher among pregnant women than among other women. As of February 22, there were 71,986 pregnant women with Covid-19 in the country.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that pregnant women have a higher risk of suffering severe symptoms of Covid-19 than other women. This means ICU confinement and the use of a ventilator.
These figures highlight the need for pregnant women to be more vigilant during the pandemic. If you are now pregnant, arm yourself with all the information you can find about your condition.
Covid-19 and Other Infections
By now, you must already know all the precautions against Covid-19. To reiterate, wear a mask outside the house, avoid physical contact with other people, maintain a physical distance from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. Avoid unnecessary trips outside your house, but do not miss any of your prenatal care appointments.
Covid-19 is not the only infection that is dangerous to pregnant women. Many infections cause high fever, as well. Having an untreated fever of higher than 38.5 degrees centigrade in a pregnant woman increases the risk of premature birth and spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.
A miscarriage means the loss of a pregnancy at less than 20 weeks. If a spontaneous abortion occurs, you will need immediate medical attention. Contact your doctor or go to a clinic that provides spontaneous abortion services.
Premature or preterm birth means the baby is born alive before the completion of 37 weeks of gestation. There is a high risk of complications and death among premature babies. Those who survive can have learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.
Do not take any infection for granted, including the common cold or the flu. Apart from causing a high fever, a cold or the flu can lead to pneumonia which can be fatal. Severe pneumonia is also one of the dangerous outcomes of Covid-19.
There are many other infections you can catch while pregnant. Wear impermeable gloves if you must change baby diapers or handle soil, raw meat, eggs, and even unwashed fruits and vegetables. Make sure that you do not come into contact with cat litter or the droppings of pets, especially rodents like hamsters or guinea pigs. Protect yourself against mosquito bites. Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever or signs of any infection.
You can protect yourself against some of these infections through vaccines. CDC advises pregnant women to get the flu vaccine. Ask your doctor about other vaccines you need. There is no conclusive data yet on the effects of the Covid-19 vaccines on pregnant women.
Avoid Causes of Congenital Disabilities
The Journal of Global Health published a study showing that Covid-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of congenital disabilities in the baby. CDC also states that high fever during pregnancy increases the risk of serious neural tube birth defects in the brain and spine of the baby.
Taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day prevents the development of these neural tube defects. Folic acid comes in the form of supplements or as part of multivitamin products. You must also choose food fortified with folic acid.
Take only supplements that your doctor prescribes or approves. Do not take any other medication without your doctor’s prescription. Some medicines and supplements are harmful to your pregnancy. A medicine for severe acne can cause congenital disabilities. Even herbal supplements need your doctor’s approval first.
Nicotine increases the risk of damaging the baby’s brain and lungs, and of the baby having defects of the lip and mouth, such as a cleft lip or cleft palate. This substance is not only in cigarettes but also in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Do not use any of these.
Alcohol can cause abnormal facial features and can affect the baby’s brain development. Do not ingest alcohol at any stage of your pregnancy.
Another factor that increases the risk of congenital disabilities and pregnancy complications is obesity in a pregnant woman. Manage your weight by eating a healthy balanced diet and having an exercise routine specifically for pregnant women.
Power of Knowledge
Being pregnant amid Covid-19 is more challenging than being pregnant before the pandemic. Fear and anxiety come from uncertainty and lack of information. By having enough knowledge about pregnancy and its dangers in these critical times, you are empowering yourself.
Now you know how to manage the things you can prevent or handle. It is also vital that you know when you must consult specialists.
You are now ready to go through this pregnancy with confidence.