COVID – 19 and pregnancy related anxiety

20 July 2020

Pregnancy related anxiety has shot up because of COVID and needs to be recognised and addressed.

The number of people with COVID – 19 continues to spike in India. The Hindu (www.thehindu.com) reports that the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus has been nearly 2000 a day for three days straight. The Health Department has confirmed 408 COVID – 19 related deaths so far in the state. Krishna district where Kushal is present has been hit hardest with a 3.17% death rate. Not surprisingly, COVID - 19 anxiety in pregnancy has sky rocketed in Andhra Pradesh.

Communities in Andhra Pradesh are concerned. In ordinary circumstances, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common complications that occur in pregnancy or in the first 12 months after delivery (The American College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians). And these are unprecedented times.

Our beneficiaries are worried, and there is little recourse to advise and comfort because of strict lockdown being enforced.  Antenatal services have been stripped resulting in limited access to information and education. Kushal India is proactively filling the gap by responding to requests with urgency and using digital technologies to surpass these barriers.

Poorer communities are affected the most. All Anganwadi Centres in the state where women from disadvantaged communities generally access government antenatal services have been shut down. We are supporting the local health department to reach out to 700 pregnant women who are linked to urban health centres on their mobile phones with counselling and befriending sessions.

A difficult question colleagues working in the front line are increasingly facing these days is -

“Amma, if I get infected, can I pass the coronavirus to my unborn baby? Will that lead to my child having problems or deformities in the future? My mother-in-law has suggested that I should terminate my pregnancy.”

Difficulty in accessing reliable information and having to take recourse on attention grabbing headlines in the media has spread misinformation and consequently led to fear and panic in communities. Most of our beneficiaries are first time pregnant and young. To have to be under pressure to resort to termination because of myths and misinformation is unfortunate.

We make sure to advise women –

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and each day scientists and researchers are learning more on how to prevent and mitigate the impact of the virus. New information comes out nearly each day and at times can contradict previous knowledge. So, it is important to remain updated on information.
  • However, it is crucial that you seek information from reliable and reputable sources, for e.g. WHO, UNICEF and the National Health Mission.
  • If you come across a piece of information in the media and especially social media such as YouTube that makes you curious or worries you, please verify that information from reliable and authentic sources. Do not act on a single source of information.
  • Do not be hasty in taking actions or decisions. Verify your doubts. Consult your doctor first.

To read more about our activities, please click here.

Can I breastfeed – benefits outweigh potential risks

World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 continue to have skin-to-skin contact and to breastfeed. In all socioeconomic settings, breastfeeding improves survival and provides lifelong health and development advantages to newborns and infants.The novel Coronavirus has not been detected in the breastmilk of any mother with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 and there is no evidence so far that the virus is transmitted through breastfeeding. For more information please visit WHO.

Coronavirus: pregnant women urged to take extra caution by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

A comprehensive, well researched and objective article in The Hindu today outlines the advice given by ICMR to pregnant women.

The main points are –

Emerging evidence suggests that transmission of the novel coronavirus from mother to baby can take place antenataly or intrapartum. There is no evidence as yet of breast milk carrying the virus.

Pregnant women with heart disease are at greater risk of COVID-19 related complications.

Mental health issues in relation to the coronavirus is a concern. Increased anxiety and depression has been reported. Also, the incidence of domestic violence has risen.

For more information on our work in relation to COVID – 19 and pregnancy, please click here.

#coronavirus #pregnancy