MONTEGO BAY, St James — The global pandemic COVID-19 has heightened fear and anxiety amongst many expectant mothers.
According to health professionals, the uncertainty and fear of being exposed to the new coronavirus can worsen stress or other underlying pre-existing conditions.
“I am inside… the most important thing is to stay inside. My biggest fear is to see people gathering and playing music like nothing is going on,” said a Green Pond, St James, expectant mother who requested anonymity. “I also get some degree of anxiety if I have to join any lines in the banks… but my biggest fear is the delivery stage, because I don’t know what is going on at the hospital.”
She added that being seven months pregnant, she still visits her doctor for regular medical examinations.
She stressed that as her time to give birth approaches, she is “a little anxious” as to how smooth her delivery process will be, and how to minimise her chances of catching the new coronavirus.
Richelle Green, another pregnant mother, says she has been keeping a positive mindset by practising yoga and staying away from the news.
“Mentally, I have trust in God and have been in a state of peace, and protecting that peace has been working through prayer and blocking out negativity,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
“Initially it was scary, but now I keep a positive outlook on the situation. I am healthy and my baby is healthy. God has been in control of my life and has guided me well so far, so I have complete trust in Him and also, I have a great doctor. I eat healthy, read inspiring books and practise yoga,” said Green, who is 26 weeks pregnant.
Obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Judith Neathly-Roberts said the fear of being outdoors is a genuine concern for expectant mothers, noting that their immune systems are lowered during pregnancy.
“In pregnancy, the immune system is lowered and that may increase their risk of getting the virus. Studies have shown that they could get a mild to moderate form of the virus; it may not be as aggressive as a non-pregnant person,” she told the Observer.
“It is important they protect themselves, especially if they have underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell disease, lupus, and so on,” she continued.
Dr Neathly-Roberts said besides eating healthily and taking pre-natal vitamins, expectant mothers should ensure that they follow the guidelines listed by the Government.
“Avoid contact with persons suspected of having fevers, wear masks, practise social distancing, wash and sanitise hands, keep ante-natal appointments as scheduled by nurses and doctors, and be very cautious when taking public transportation,” she outlined.
Chief executive officer of Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay Dr Derek Harvey sought to allay fears about giving birth at the State-run facility.
He explained that his obstetric team has proposed a plan to ensure that mothers and newborns are safe.
“We are still a work in progress. I have received a plan from the members of the Obstetrics Unit to repurpose a section of the new block which was recently opened by Dr [Christopher] Tufton (health and wellness minister), to facilitate expectant mothers. We have identified a location which has four rooms and an operating theatre. We will be using rooms for screening expectant mothers, another for an isolation room if the expectant mother is confirmed to be positive [for COVID-19], and the operating theatre for those mothers who require a C-section,” he explained.
In the meantime, mental health specialist for the St James Public Health Department Georgia Rose said, currently, COVID-19 poses no adverse effects for expectant mothers.
“Preliminary studies demonstrate no significant adverse impact on pregnant women or the foetus by COVID-19. We encourage them to use this time to cater to their health needs, keep in contact with supportive individuals, have a practical plan for delivery and afterwards, seek help if needed,” she urged.
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