COVID-19 and Maternal Health: Tips for Pregnant Women need to do during Lockdown
Jagat Prasad Upadhyay
“Corona” is the most frequently used word in the world nowadays. The number of corona cases are decreasing in worldwide but increasing day by day in Nepal (Currently 2300 cases, 9 deaths). The most effective way to break the chain of infection is to continue lockdown in the country. The Nepal government has decided to extend the lockdown till Jestha 32 to reduce the transmission of disease in the country. On the contrary, the lockdown may bring or have brought many problems in each sector. It will have an extreme effect on the maternal health
Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period (WHO). Each stage should be a positive experience, ensuring women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being.
According to the Kathmandu post (news published) on 27 May, 2020 “at least 24 women have died due to birth related complications in the last two months, according to Family Welfare Division of Department of Health Services. This is an almost 200 percent increase in maternal mortality rate since the lockdown was enforced on Chaitra 11, 2076. A total of 80 women died from birth complications in the last fiscal year.”
Before the pandemic, only 53 per cent of births in Nepal were attended by skilled health personnel, meaning many women faced serious risks if complications arose during childbirth. But today, women are facing even more barriers to accessing maternal health care, including movement restrictions, transport challenges and anxiety over possibly being exposed to the virus.
Only very few pregnant women are visiting health facilities for consultation. Due to the lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, maternity services have been obstructed throughout the country, putting the lives of pregnant women at a great risk.
The institutional delivery rate, which was already low at around 55 percent, has declined further. A complete halt to public transportation has meant that more women are compelled to give birth at home. Numerous health facilities have also stopped providing services due to fears of Covid-19 transmission.
Apart from institutional delivery, antenatal and postnatal services have been hampered by the ongoing lockdown. Pregnant women are unable to reach the health facilities to examine their pregnancies. They are also deprived of iron supplement tablets and tetanus toxoid vaccines, which are to be taken during pregnancies.
According to the Nepal Demographic Health Survey-2016, 239 women per 100,000 live births die during or after childbirth. The country has committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate to 125 per 100,000 births by 2020, which seems impossible in the present context.
Nepal reduced the maternal mortality rate from 539 in 1996 to 239 in 2016 for which the country received the Millennium Development Goal award. The country has to reduce maternal mortality rate to 75 for every 100,000 births by 2030 to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals target.”
Health Ministry needs to ensure that pregnant women and those with serious medical issues have easy access to transportation if more deaths are to be prevented during the lockdown. More people could die of other ailments when government are focused on Covid-19. The government needs to direct all agencies, including the police and the army, to provide emergency transportation to the emergency case.
Here Are Some Tips For Pregnant Women Need To Do During Lockdown
- Nutrition is a key factor for both pregnant women & babies considering the diet of a pregnant woman.
- Fruits & Vegetables: Whichever fruits and vegs they like to eat should be taken on a daily basis
- Milk & milk products are an important part of the pregnancy diet
- Food items that are rich in protein like fish, chicken, egg, soybean, pulses are highly recommended for a pregnant woman
- Have some dry fruits like almond, walnut etc.
- Beside Nutrition, the other important thing is staying at home.it is important to maintain hand, face and respiratory hygiene & ensure social distancing.
- If you are undergoing through 1st and 3rd trimester, you have to undergo various diagnostic tests, scans and vaccines in an alternative week or in a month, so prior come to the hospital make sure about doctor’s availability and facilities going on there.
- Due to hormonal imbalance, there will be huge anxiety, so do some pranayama & meditations before sleep.
- Do some antenatal yoga in the early morning.
- Create positive affirmation cards for yourself by listening to music, watching positive vivid movie & spending quality time with family members.
- Just switch off the news, use social media or phone to connect with your close ones, but disconnect from everything else going on outside.
Jagat Prasad Upadhyay, BPH Graduate, Gandaki Medical College, Tribhuvan University
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