What are the changes in antenatal care (ANC) visits during the lockdown or restricted travel policy?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, our healthcare systems are under high pressure.

While there is an additional surge of patients with both symptomatic and asymptomatic symptoms of the virus.

There are also those with other general ailments that need attention and care. However, it is the pregnant couples who are under most strain. They are not only concerned about the usual concerns of pregnancy but also troubled over bringing a baby safely into this world during a pandemic. While there have been lockdowns imposed to prevent the rampant spread of the infection, various natal testing and delivery factors are also affected.

Antenatal care during the lockdown due to COVID-19

Essential healthcare services are an essential facet to minimize morbidity and mortality rates, including maternal, reproductive, maternal newborn, and child health. If you visit the hospital for prenatal tests and delivery, you must observe social distancing and wear a respirator. Most medical institutions have banned visitors and additional personnel from the premises. While the baby is most likely not going to contract the mother’s infection before birth, they become vulnerable to the virus after birth when they come in contact with an infected person. You should stay in touch with your gynecologist and keep yourself updated with the latest hospital and antennal care policies.

Guidelines for mothers to be

While pregnant women are generally not any more susceptible than normal individuals, they are at a higher risk of falling for respiratory infections. The infection is unknown to travel through the placenta; however, it is essential not to risk exposure for both yourself and the baby. All expecting mothers should stay home, safe, relaxed, and not stress about the virus and the current scenario. Some important guidelines to stay healthy and safe are:            

  • Eat healthily, perform deep breathing exercises
  • Do not Panic
  • Avoid being exposed to individuals suspected of being exposed to the virus
  • Avoid going outdoors when not necessary
  • Maintain social distancing even at home with individuals who keep stepping out of the house for chores and work
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching foreign objects and surfaces
  • Sanitize any objects delivered at home
  • Wash/sanitize hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face with unclean hands.

Antenatal care (care during pregnancy)

  • Go for checkups less frequently, as advised by your doctor. It may be at 12, 20, 28, and 36 weeks of pregnancy for routine care while minimizing exposure. 
  • If there are symptoms of cough, fever, or shortness of breath, avoid going for a routine checkup for seven days after the resolution of symptoms.
  • If any household member is a suspect of COVID-19, avoid going for a routine checkup for the next 14 days.
  • Many queries can be solved over the telephone, avoiding the trip to the health facility.
  • Do not forget to take your vitamins and iron supplementations. Take plenty of fluids and nutritious food.
  • Avoid unnecessary USGs or any investigations.
  • If you are a confirmed case of COVID-19, first, don’t stress yourself. Locate the COVID dedicated hospital and, if possible, inform in advance for any visit so that you can be received properly.
  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 can be advised X-Ray and CT-Scan, make sure that you ask for proper fetal protection before these investigations.

 To sum it all up, maintaining hygiene, adequate nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle will ensure that you will not need to visit a healthcare center often. The better the precautionary measures you take, the lower are the chances of any harm to both the mother and the baby.  

Special thanks to Dr. Meena Samant (MBBS, MD, DNB, MRCOG) for the expert advice.

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