Covid, pregnancy, breastfeeding and vaccines: Let's help in breaking myths for new mothers

Written By: Deeksha Teri WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jun 10, 2021, 04:44 PM(IST)

A pregnant woman Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Pregnant women, if infected by coronavirus, are advised to intake a lot of fluids at normal temperature and go on complete bed rest to avoid tiring the body

The coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for everyone around the world, but it has been worse for the people who suffer from chronic diseases or for pregnant women who are concerned about not only getting infected but also about passing on the infection to their newborns.

Here, we answer several questions in the minds of expectant mothers on Covid, and break myths in this regard. 

Risks during pregnancy

Pregnant ladies carry less risk of getting infected by the coronavirus  if they stay indoors and limit their social contact. However, people who do contract COVID-19 during their pregnancy carry a higher risk of developing respiratory complications. Pregnant women also carry a higher risk of being out on a ventilator, in comparison to others.

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The risk is more in the third trimester for pregnant women, all over the world.

One major concern for all expectant mothers and their families is the timely delivery of the baby. However, there are higher chances of premature birth and cesarean delivery, if the mother has been infected by the deadly coronavirus.

Experts advise pregnant people to take extra precautions during and immediately after their pregnancy. Women are advised to identify and quickly act on the symptoms such as common cold, nausea, fever, dry cough, etc.

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Pregnant people, if infected by coronavirus, are advised to intake a lot of fluids at normal temperature and go on complete bed rest to avoid tiring the body. If a pregnant woman, in such a case, experiences fatigue or tiredness, her immune system can weaken further and the virus might more strongly attack the body, thus leading to severe negative effects.

Prepping for delivery

One thing to take care of, a few days before delivering the baby, is that the mother and her support person have to be screened for the deadly virus. Experts advise the new mother and her support person to stay indoors, limit communication and follow a healthy diet a few weeks before the delivery, to make sure they do not get infected in any case.

The mother and her support will be screened for the virus a couple of days before the scheduled delivery and also a few hours before entering the delivery room.

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Postpartum care

While making sure the baby is born healthy, it is also very important to care for the newborn against the coronavirus. There have been reported cases around the world where newborns have been infected by the deadly virus.

After giving birth, mothers should try and schedule virtual appointments with their doctors to avoid contact with the outside world.

Mothers are also advised to take care of their mental health post-pregnancy as there are higher chances of postpartum depression in the current scenario of extended lockdowns.

Another bigger concern for new mothers is the fear of putting the newborn in danger through breastfeeding. Health experts and researchers suggest that breast milk isn’t likely to infect the baby.

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However, there are still no sure answers on whether covid-infected mothers can breastfeed their newborn or not. There are fears of the virus spreading through respiratory droplets while breastfeeding. To avoid this, for now, experts suggest covid-infected mothers wear a face mask at all times when in close vicinity with the baby and regularly wash their hands before and after touching the baby, or anything related to him/her.

Does Covid infection in mothers have an effect on babies?

Researchers believe if a mother is infected with coronavirus, there are fewer chances of the virus being passed to the baby in her stomach, and it is unlikely that it will hinder the baby’s development. It has also been observed that COVID-19 does not increase the chances of miscarriages.

While there have been cases where the newborns have been born with the infection, it is a rare happening and the doctors advise limiting visitation for the newborn to make sure he/she does not catch the infection from any visitor.

Vaccines during pregnancy

There is no evidence that suggests the coronavirus vaccines are unsafe for pregnant people. However, researchers suggest people should opt for Moderna and Pfizer, instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines that do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and has less to no chances of infecting someone with the deadly virus. Experts have also concluded that the mRNA vaccines do not engage with human DNA and, thus, there are no genetic changes.

However, health experts strictly advise pregnant people to stick to bed rest and not exert themselves to avoid contracting coronavirus. They are also advised to strictly limit their contact with outsiders and wear masks if stepping outdoors.

The vaccines are also safe for mothers who are breastfeeding or lactating. Some also believe that the vaccines can develop antibodies that can further protect the babies against the virus. However, the claim has not been proven by medical experts yet.

Normal flu vaccines are also safe and advised for pregnant people. In fact, taking flu vaccines is advised, with or without covid, to avoid getting infected by common cold or any other form of flu.

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