COVID-19 MESSAGES FOR PREGNANT AND POSTNATAL WOMEN

By : www.messagesformothers.co.za

WHAT’S DIFFERENT FOR PREGNANT AND POSTNATAL WOMEN IN THE TIME OF COVID-19?
The symptoms and signs of COVID-19 are the same in pregnant women as the general public. Everyone should take care to avoid infection or infecting others. You can help protect yourself by:
• Wash hands as often as possible with soap for 20 seconds (or use alcohol sanitiser)
• Try to stay more than 2 meters away from others, if you can and avoid crowded
spaces.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Practice respiratory hygiene: cough or sneeze into your bent elbow covering your
mouth and nose, or into a tissue which you must then throw straight away into a
closed container and wash hands with soap for 20 seconds).
• Open windows when possible and keep household surfaces clean with 4 teaspoons
bleach in 1 litre water. Keep bleach out of reach of children.

CAN THE COVID-19 VIRUS AFFECT MY PREGNANCY?

Pregnant women are often worried about how a virus affects their health and that of their unborn baby. There is no proof at the moment that the virus causing COVID-19 can go via the womb to infect the unborn baby. There is also no proof of increased chance ofmiscarriage, early pregnancy loss or newborn abnormality. High fever from any cause can bring on labour early.

ARE PREGNANT WOMAN MORE AT RISK FOR COVID-19?
In general, pregnant women are more likely to catch seasonal “flu”, and to have more severe symptoms from flu-like illnesses. Medical professionals recommend flu injections for pregnant women. But, it is not yet known if COVID-19 is worse in pregnant women.
At this time, there is no vaccination for it. If you have any other illnesses such as TB, heart disease, HIV or diabetes you may be more at risk.

SHOULD I STILL GO TO THE CLINIC DURING PREGNANCY?

Yes, pregnant women should continue attending their planned antenatal visits.
When you arrive at the facility, you will be asked questions about COVID-19, have your temperature checked and asked to use hand sanitiser. Those women with symptoms (fever, dry cough, sore muscles, sore throat, difficulty breathing) will be cared for in a
separate room and tested. If you have severe symptoms e.g. high fever or great difficulty breathing, you may be admitted or referred to a hospital or asked to isolate yourself at home while waiting for the COVID-19 test result.

WHAT MUST I DO IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
Pregnant women with any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, dry cough, sore muscles, sore throat, difficulty breathing) need to be tested.
Please phone the hotline (0800 029999) or your local antenatal clinic to find out where to go for testing or whether you need to call an ambulance to take you to hospital urgently.
As soon as you arrive, tell a health worker that you have these symptoms.

HOW WILL I BE TREATED IF I GET SICK WITH COVID-19?
If you test positive for COVID-19
• In early pregnancy you will be managed at home (self-isolation) or in a place with other people with COVID-19.
• In later pregnancy (after 5 months) you will be managed at home (mild symptoms and not in labour), in a safe place with other people who have the infection, or in your maternity facility if in labour.
• If you have severe symptoms like high fevers and shortness of breath you will be admitted to a specialised hospital with a maternity unit, where you might need to be looked after in an intensive care unit.
• If you have had the baby, you should stay together and breastfeed while wearing a mask. Health care workers that look after you will wear protective clothing and keep you in an area separate from other patients. Don’t worry about this; it is to protect them and other women from getting the coronavirus.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I DON’T FEEL WELL IN PREGNANCY?
If you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or you have other pregnancy symptoms that worry you like bleeding, reduced movements of the baby, breaking of waters; you must attend your facility.
Be sure to first tell the health care worker of your COVID-19 symptoms or other symptoms as soon as you arrive at the clinic.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GO INTO LABOUR?
• Women who may have or have COVID-19 can have normal labour and there is no need for a special type of delivery such as caesarean section. Skin-to-skin care and breastfeeding should start at birth.
• All women arriving at a facility in labour will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
• If you maybe have, or definitely have COVID-19, you will be looked after in a separated area and the health workers will wear protective clothing. You will be asked to wear a mask to prevent infection from spreading to other patients or health workers.
• If you do not have COVID-19, you will be looked after in the normal delivery area with other patients. Although birth companions are very supportive to women in labour, some facilities may not allow them to be with you during this time of the COVID19 pandemic. This is to
prevent the virus spreading from people without symptoms to other patients, newborn babies or health care workers. You will need to ask your facility what their policy is. If you can, try to connect with your support person over the phone as much as possible, while you’re in labour.

WHAT IS NORMAL DURING PREGNANCY – AND WHEN SHOULD I GO TO THE CLINIC?
Many mothers are worried about their pregnancies and COVID-19. Here is some information about what is normal for pregnancy, what could be due to anxiety or a cold, what could be a pregnancy complication and what could be symptoms of COVID-19.
• Heart palpitations: these are usually from a lot of stress and worry or could be due to a fever causing your heart to beat faster. If you do not have a fever, this is probably not COVID-19.
• Shortness of breath: in pregnancy, your womb grows bigger and can make you feel a little short of breath. Sometimes if your red blood cell levels are low, this can also make you breathless. But, if your breathing is very fast and you are struggling to breathe, this could be caused by an infection – and you need to get medical attention urgently.
• Blocked nose, stuffy, heavy feeling in the head: these are signs of a ‘cold’ or hayfever and are not common with COVID-19. You can take paracetamol to relieve symptoms
• Headaches: in pregnancy, many women have headaches. They do not need to go to a clinic if the headache gets better if they drink fluids and take simple painkillers (paracetamol). But, headaches that don’t go away or are severe, can mean there is a serious problem like high blood pressure or COVID 19 (if also have fever and cough).
You should go to the clinic immediately, and inform the nurse when you arrive, if the headache does not go away, is severe or comes with
• swelling of the feet, lights flashing in front of the eyes, painful belly, or
• you know you have a high blood pressure condition, or
• fever
Contact your maternity unit if:
• you have any bleeding from your vagina
• you have pain in your belly
• the baby is not moving as much as usual
None of these is likely to be caused by COVID-19.
When you go to the clinic, go straight away to the person who is organising the screening when you arrive. Difficulty breathing is an emergency, and you or your relative should phone the clinic or hotline to see if you need to call an ambulance to take you to hospital.
If you are not sure what a symptom means, or are unsure how urgent it is, phone your clinic or the hotline for advice. 0800 029 999.

CAN I BREASTFEED IF I HAVE, OR MAY HAVE COVID-19?
Breastfeeding is recommended for all mothers, including mothers who have, or may have COVID-19. So far, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in breastmilk.
• Always wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds before and after you breastfeed.
• Make sure you follow good respiratory hygiene: cough or sneeze into your bent elbow covering your mouth and nose, or into a tissue which you must then throw straight away into a closed container and wash hands with soap for 20 seconds.
• Everyone in the house should wash hands often with soap for 20 seconds (or usealcohol-based hand sanitiser).
• If you have COVID-19, you should wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when breastfeeding. A homemade mask can be a cloth or scarf that is washed after each use. Do not touch the mask while the baby is feeding or when spending time with the baby.