With a greater number of pregnant women testing positive for COVID-19 and developing complications during the ongoing second wave, expecting mothers are burdened with twin burden of the disease and the complications it may cause. Dr Gauri Agarwal, Director and Co-founder, Seeds of Innocence says in the past one month, 60 per cent expecting COVID-positive mothers have shown signs of extreme distress and panic, which can further affect the health of both mother and child.
“The number of pregnant women getting infected in the second wave has risen sharply by about 20 per cent. COVID-positive mothers are worried about whether their children will be born with COVID-19 and whether they should get vaccinated to safeguard themselves. Even those who are not positive are suffering from stress, looking at the very high number of infections in the second wave. Stress during pregnancy is harmful for both mother and child. While prolonged duration of stress can cause high blood pressure in the expecting mother, increasing the risk of fatal outcomes like preeclampsia, it also increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight baby, and developmental delays in the baby," says Dr Gauri Agarwal, Director and Co-founder, Seeds of Innocence.
"Stress can also cause anxiety and depression in expecting mothers and may contribute to the development of postpartum depression (PPD). They must be careful about a sudden increase in heart rate or heart palpitations, headaches, back pain, upset stomach, difficulty in concentrating or sleeping, loss of appetite or overeating, a feeling of frustration, anger or sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in being around other people or excessive need to be around other people, or feeling scared to be alone. Reach out to your gynaecologist without delay as informative counselling helps a lot,” Dr Gauri Agarwal added.
A COVID-positive expecting mother may develop high levels of C-reactive proteins (CRP) that can damage lungs and affect the supply of oxygen to the foetus. Besides, a prolonged or difficult labour may put additional strain on the lungs and affect the oxygen saturation levels. Dr Agarwal allayed fears of pregnant women being more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus or newborns of infected women being nearly three times more at risk of severe medical complications, as found in a latest study by the University of Oxford.
"It is true that some women may experience weakness and tiredness during pregnancy more than others, but that does not mean they are more vulnerable than others, unless she has other medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, asthma, or respiratory problems, categorised as comorbidities. However, at the same time, the body develops mechanisms to protect the baby from any foreign organism with the help of interleukin, a group of naturally occurring proteins that help in stimulating immune responses. For the expecting mothers who get infected, we prescribe treating them in home isolation with symptomatic treatment and maintaining proper hydration. It is advisable to monitor oxygen levels periodically to check oxygen saturation levels – hospitalisation will be required if it is less than 90." Dr Agarwal further said.