By Dr Sireesha Reddy
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill. Times like these are stressful for everyone as dealing with a pandemic like this, which is unprecedented and has definitely increased anxiety and stress levels among people. The case becomes special if you are pregnant during these times; it is very natural to feel extremely anxious about the situation.
By now, everyone knows that the coronavirus spreads when you are exposed to the droplets released by an infected person while coughing or sneezing. The disease is spreading like wildfire throughout the world. To safeguard yourself from being exposed, social distancing norms must be followed, interactions with other people need to be reduced. Government advisory issues everyone to stay at home as much as possible and stay alert.
However, how feasible is this when you are pregnant? After all it is important that you regularly visit your doctor during pregnancy to ensure the wellbeing of yourself and your baby. How often can you visit? Will it be safe? Are there chances of you being exposed to the virus? These are the questions every expecting mother would naturally have.
Well, for routine checkups, you can obviously opt for telemedicine. Many maternity hospitals are providing that facility so that expectant mothers are not exposed to unnecessary interaction with others. There are several plus points of opting for a virtual consultation. It saves a lot of time, energy and most importantly ensures you get your treatment from the safety of your homes.
But what do you do when visiting the doctor is absolutely necessary and unavoidable, for example your prenatal and antenatal scans?
If you are asking yourself the question whether you should attend your scheduled scan appointments, then the answer is an absolute yes. Your scans are an important part of your maternity care / journey and thus routine scans helps in monitoring/ tracking baby and mother’s wellbeing. They provide your doctor with valuable information like the baby’s growth, any abnormalities that may be present, the position of the placenta, determination of multiple births and it helps them predict your due date as well. You need to have discussions with your doctor and decide on how often you are going to have the scans done.
The number of scans will no doubt vary based on the woman and her pregnancy. But usually a normal pregnancy would include three to five scans, the earliest of which is done around six to eight weeks of pregnancy. The other important scans to be done are as follows:
Nuchal Translucency scan (NT scan): Done around the third month. This scan lets us know the structure of the baby.
Targeted imaging for foetal Anomaly Scan (TIFA): Done around the fifth month of the pregnancy, this is the scan that rules out any congenital anomalies that may be present.
Growth and Doppler Scan: Done around the eighth month, this is a routine scan that ensures that the baby is growing normally.
It is understandable that you may be worried about being exposed to the virus while visiting the hospital, but it is important to know that many hospitals and birthing centers are taking the necessary steps to ensure that your visits are safe. Every member of the staff uses protective gear, there is enough spacing between couples in the waiting area to ensure social distancing, they are disinfecting surfaces (especially beds) frequently and having temperature checks for both staff and the visitors. All hospitals have the necessary infrastructure for the testing and triage of COVID positive patients and they also have isolation rooms for suspected cases.
If you are still concerned about the visits for your scans, you can take certain steps from your end to ensure safe visits. These are basic things we all need to do during this pandemic anyway, as it will be the new way of life. Avoid touching things and then touching your face with unwashed hands, always carry a hand sanitiser with you. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from people you see at the hospital. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds after coming back home.
The best way to deal with all these concerns is having a frank discussion with your doctor. Let them know your worries and apprehensions. They will be able to solve them and provide you with the necessary assurance. Most doctors are advising virtual consultations for routine checkups anyway. They are making sure that only those patients who are in absolute need of physical consultations visit the hospitals. Pregnant women form a part of that group.
But the most important aspect during all of this is the protection of your mental wellbeing. Being pregnant during these times is not going to be a cakewalk to say the least. So, make sure you are communicating your anxieties with your loved ones, who are there to support you. Take the necessary precautions and visit your doctor for necessary scan appointments, because they form the core part of your maternity care.
(The writer is Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospitals, Hebbal, Bangalore)
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