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Pregnancy during the times of COVID-19

19 Jul 2020

The Ministry of Health continues to provide maternity services in order to monitor the health of pregnant women and neonates amidst the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 70 hospitalised COVID-19 cases of pregnant women admitted to The Royal Hospital so far, nine required to be admitted to the intensive care unit. Three critical cases went into premature labour in order to improve their response to treatment. One of the cases was of a woman with less than 24 weeks of pregnancy and the foetus died, while in other two cases (over 28 weeks of pregnancy) premature newborns were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Dr Moza Abdullah al Sulaimani, director of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at The Royal Hospital, pointed out that the probability of a pregnant woman being infected with the COVID-19 is equal to that of the rest of the community. “The changes, especially on the immune system, that occur in the pregnant woman’s body, may, however, affect her resistance to viral infections, in general. A pregnant woman is immunocompromised due to her body’s attempt to adapt and accept the existence of the foetus inside her.”

She added that most COVID-19 admissions for pregnant women were mild. “Mothers have recovered and no neonatal deaths were recorded till now.” 

Dr Moza pointed out that most COVID-19 admissions at The Royal Hospital were that of high-risk pregnancy where they got infected from the husband or one of the family members. “The increase in cases puts pressure on the hospital and the medical staff,” she said, adding that it led to restructuring of departments and postponement of operations and appointments.

She added that COVID-19 infections among medical staff has caused further burden on the healthcare system. However, work continues and no unit has been closed, as pregnancy services are essential, she affirmed.

Preventive measures for pregnant women             

Little is known about the impact of the virus on the health of a pregnant woman, in particular, and her foetus, in general. Therefore, the ministry has stressed the importance of adhering to the preventive measures in order to reduce the chances of virus exposure and infection. The MoH continues to advise pregnant women to continue regular follow up in the health institutions.

A number of measures have been taken to facilitate and speed up the visit of pregnant women to primary health care institutions. National guidelines have been issued in cooperation with The Royal Hospital to deal with infected pregnant women. ‘If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with COVID-19, a specialised team will follow up and monitor her health in addition to providing her with a number to contact the health institution before going to it. Home or institutional isolation will be determined according to her health and social status,’ said MoH.

‘Any other healthy family member must take care of her children.If she is under home isolation, it is necessary to follow the precautions to avoid transmitting the infection among her family members.’ 

‘In addition, the infected woman must follow up with the clinic and notify the institution prior to receiving her in a way so as to avoid contact with other patients. If she experiences complications (severe headache, blurred vision, swelling in the body, bleeding)or when childbirth pain occurs, she must call before coming to the hospital.

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