Covid-19 causes panic among pregnant women

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By Kefiloe Kajane

Pregnant women and new moms are experiencing fear and anxiety after having to endure Covid-19 protocols that have been put in place by hospitals and health facilities for their own safety.

Expectant mothers who spoke to theReporter said going to doctors’ appointments has been a scary nightmare because clinics are overcrowded, which is not unusual but it is scary to know the risk of being next to someone with Covid-19.

One such woman is Ntoetse Molapo of Ha Mabote on the outskirts of Maseru, who expressed misgivings about falling pregnancy in the midst of the pandemic.

“This is my second pregnancy. I was young during my first pregnancy and did not bother attending pre-natal check-ups.

“I had hoped to do better and be more responsible this time around, but now there is this Covid-19 pandemic everywhere you go, especially at the clinic where it is overcrowded. This is not unusual, but it is scary knowing the risk of sitting next to someone who could be infected with Covid-19.”

Ntoetse said she visits Beatitudes Surgery Clinic, which she commended for upholding safety measures like ensuring everyone wears a mask, hand-sanitizing properly, enforcing social distancing and regularly disinfecting surfaces.

However, this is not enough to eliminate the discomforts associated with pregnancy. 

“I find it difficult to breathe in a mask. I think it is because I’m pregnant and my internal organs are pushed up high to make room for the baby. As it is, it is already difficult for a pregnant woman to breathe, and it is even worse when I have to wear a mask. However, there isn’t much I can do; I have to comply, for the sake of my unborn baby’s safety. Another problem, the smell of these hand sanitisers makes me nauseous, but I have to stick it out if I know what’s good for me.

“My problems as an expecting mother do not end there. It is a big challenge finding essentials for babies. Most items at the shops are out of stock. I am talking about clothes and baby feeding bottles; even nappies for new born babies are hard to find. I suppose other moms panic-bought them,” she further said.

Adding to Ntoetsi’s fears is the prospect of being alone, without emotional support, in hospital after giving birth, because hospitals do not allow visitations.   

A new mother, Itumeleng (not her real name), told theReporter about giving birth during strict Covid19 restrictions. She said even though is a nurse herself and has better knowledge than the average person about the virus, she was still anxious and had fears giving birth to her child.

She gave birth at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital and she said all the safety precautions were followed, but she remembers feeling alone as for the first time as visitors were not allowed.

“Because I gave birth through C-Section, I had to stay a week at the hospital and it was just me, my baby, and the doctors. It gets lonely because you do not have any visitors at all. Even though you know that it is for your own safety, it is no consolation. Every time a new patient comes to a ward that you are in, you wonder if they will not be of any danger to you and the baby,” Itumeleng said.

However, according to a study by Harvard Medical School published on July 2, an increased risk of miscarriage or foetal malformations has not been documented in pregnant women who are infected with covid19.

It further states that a study of nine pregnant women who were infected with Covid-19 and had symptoms showed that none of their babies was affected by the virus. The virus was not present in amniotic fluid, the babies’ throats, or in breast milk. Another study of 38 women infected with covid19 found that none of the newborns tested positive for the disease.

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