Dear doctor/ Dr Neha Abhijit Pawar, consultant (gynaecology), Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai
Whenever there is a complete shutdown of general health services, women suffer the most. During the initial few months of the lockdown, many women had unplanned pregnancies and came in for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP). We are expecting a baby boom in the coming months in India because of the unplanned pregnancies. We are hoping there will not be too many cases of complications associated with these pregnancies.
Contraception, pregnancy and abortion
If the woman is physically fit, condoms or pills as means of contraception will do and there is no need to visit the doctor. If there are health issues, online consultations should suffice. One must try and avoid visiting hospitals as much as possible. If a woman does get pregnant and does not wish to continue the pregnancy, then she must visit a health care provider at the earliest because the treatment will change as the pregnancy advances. A pregnancy can be terminated up to seven weeks easily with a pill. Beyond that, surgery is required. So, a woman must reach out within two weeks of missing her period, preferably to a certified gynaecologist at a registered MTP centre.
Ensuring zero impact of Covid-19 on foetus
A pregnant woman automatically falls into the moderate risk category. Even if she has slight cold or fever, she must approach her gynaecologist. It is important for expecting mothers to stay away from crowded places, maintain hygiene at all times, have supplements and stay hydrated. There is no proof yet of the spread of Covid-19 from mother to child. But it has been proven that it can cause clotting in the placenta, which can then increase the chances of hypertension during pregnancy.
Covid-positive during pregnancy
Pregnant women who have tested positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic can remain in home quarantine and need not be admitted. If found Covid-positive while in an advanced pregnancy stage, we have to monitor the mother and the growth of the baby at regular intervals.
Issues with breastfeeding
The new mother must prioritise breastfeeding over everything else. Being Covid-positive does not disrupt breastfeeding in any way and the mother can continue nursing her child.
Mental health during lockdown
Lockdown has taken an immense toll on the mental well-being of women, especially those in charge of an entire household. We see a lot of patients with anxiety, insomnia, depression and stress. It is necessary that the woman approaches a therapist and spares time for herself. We have to learn to live with Covid-19 and cannot stay confined inside the four walls of the house any longer. Move outdoors, exercise, meditate and practise yoga.
—As told to Pooja Biraia Jaiswal