Message from Dr Onika Scott, Maternal and Child Health Officer
Guyana has in excess of 15000 births annually and so there are many of you women, I am sure, who are wondering how your pregnancies can be affected by COVID-19.
1) You may wonder, am I at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19 because I am pregnant?
According to the World Health Organization to date as far as the research shows, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus than the general population .
That being said, due to changes in your bodies and immune systems, you can in the last months of pregnancy be gravely affected by some respiratory infections, and so it’s important to take all necessary precautions.
Another question you may be thinking of is;
I am an expecting mother. What should I be doing to keep myself safe during this pandemic outbreak?
Well you are advised to:
• Avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
• Avoid public transport when possible.
• Work from home, where possible.
• Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, particularly in closed or confined spaces.
• Avoid physical gatherings with friends and family.
• Eat healthy, practice moderate physical exercise if recommended by your physician and get lots of rest.
• Practice regular hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and water
• Practice regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces with the recommended detergents.
• Conduct self-monitoring of any signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and seek early care from a health care provider
3) Is it safe to continue my check-ups at the clinics?
Yes, it is very safe to visit the care centers. No Clinics have been terminated and antenatal services continue uninterrupted.
Currently in Guyana all the clinics are adhering to physical distancing guidelines. So, you may receive a call from your provider to reschedule your appointment to a specified time and date. The Ministry urges you to keep those appointment times as it prevents overcrowding at the facilities. We also encourage that upon visiting the health facility, you adhere to the seating arrangements, respiratory hygiene and any other measures adopted by your facility to stop the spread of COVID -19.
I also encourage pregnant women in care, to call their health facilities for a tele – consultation if they have any other concerns.
4) Is the hospital safe for me to give birth?
Yes, all birthing facilities are safe for delivery. In addition, there have been some adjustments and changes at birthing sites to prevent the spread of COVID -19.
All health care providers will be wearing a mask and other protective equipment. You will also be requested to wear a mask when accessing the services.
5) If I have COVID-19 can I have my baby in a safe environment?
Yes! All birthing facilities have made provisions to ensure safe delivery of any pregnant mother diagnosed with COVID-19.
At the GPHC, there is a special location identified for delivery and if needed a C- section. After the baby is born the mother will also be cared for in a specially assigned space.
6) If I have (COVID-19) will I pass it to my baby?
We still do not know if the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. However, during delivery the health care provider will take all the necessary precautions to keep your baby safe .
7) If I have COVID -19 can I safely breastfeed my baby?
As far as we know, it is perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding. It’s the best thing a mother can do for her newborn bearing in mind that you will have to protect your baby from transmission of infections.
To conclude ,I want to encourage you to disclose any symptoms you may have when you visit the hospital for care. It is in keeping with the objective of providing the safest care for you and your baby.
You may contact the Maternal and Child Health Department at your neighborhood health facility or on the Ministry’s Facebook page if you have any questions or comments.
Do remember that your health and that of your baby are of paramount importance in this time and you do have an significant role to play in preventing the spread of COVID -19 .