27 September 2021

Navigating pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pregnancy is a special time full of excitement and anticipation. But for many expectant mothers, the COVID-19 pandemic has clouded this time with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.  To help women navigate this time, we spoke to experts about pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines and tips on how to have a safe pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic.  , Pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines, The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step forward in our global effort to end the pandemic and to get back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love. Here are the answers to come commonly asked questions about pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines.  , Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?, Although the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 remains low, pregnancy puts you at a higher risk of severe illness compared to people who are not pregnant. Research is still ongoing to understand the safety and effects of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women, but there is no known reason that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination…, Can COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?, No, you may have seen false claims on social media, but there is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can affect fertility in women or men. If you are currently trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.  , Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?, Researchers are currently studying COVID-19 vaccination in breastfeeding women, but there is still limited information at this time. WHO advises that vaccinations are offered if a lactating woman is part of a priority group for vaccinations, for example, if you are a health worker. Breastfeeding can continue after vaccination and remains one of…, Having a safe pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, To learn more about how women can protect themselves and their little ones, we spoke with Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives. COVID-19 is a new virus and research into it is ongoing. We will update this article as new information becomes available.  , Is it safe to continue prenatal check-ups?, Many expectant mothers are fearful of going to appointments while they are taking precautions, such as staying home and practicing physical distancing when outside. “You do see a lot of adaptation happening at the moment in the world where midwives are doing clinics or certain appointments by phone, so that the actual looking at the baby and the…, 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. “The COVID-19 virus has not been found in vaginal fluid, in cord blood or breastmilk,” says Cadée, although information is still emerging. To date, COVID-19 has also not been detected in amniotic fluid or the placenta. The best thing you can do is to…, I was planning on giving birth in a hospital or healthcare clinic. Is this still a good option?, “Women should ask their midwife [or health care professional] what they feel is the safest place for them and how precautions are being taken from situation to situation,” recommends Cadée. “It depends on the woman, on her situation, and on the healthcare system.”  “You would hope that most healthcare facilities have different facilities where…, Can my partner or family member be nearby when I give birth?, While policies vary by country, Cadée believes women should have someone nearby to support them, as long as the proper precautions are taken, such as wearing a mask while in the delivery room and washing their hands. “We are finding that in certain countries people are not being allowed to be with women, and that is worrying me. I can understand…, I’m feeling incredibly anxious about giving birth. What should I do to cope?, Having a plan in place for your birth can help ease feelings of anxiety by giving you more of a sense of control, but recognizing that the current situation means there may be less predictability depending on where you live. “This should include who to phone when the labour begins, who will provide support during labour, and where. Establish what…, What questions should I be asking my healthcare professional?, Cadée underlines the importance of establishing a trusting relationship with your healthcare provider. “All of those questions that have to do with you and your health, I would ask them freely. If you have an open relationship with your healthcare provider – with your midwife, with your obstetrician – they will discuss these things with you and…, What should women pack to go into hospital during the pandemic?, “I don’t think women need to take anything extra, but they should take precautions well into account,” advises Cadée. She expects some hospitals may ask women to go home more quickly than normal if they’re healthy. “Again, that will be different from area to area, from woman to woman, from hospital to hospital,” she says, recommending expecting…, Once I have given birth, what can I do to protect my newborn from the COVID-19 virus?, The best thing you can do is to keep it simple: stick to just your family and don’t ask for visitors right now.  Although it’s a difficult time, Cadée recommends trying to see the positive side of having this time to bond as a family. “Sometimes it can be very busy for young mothers and fathers to have so many visitors. Enjoy the quietness of your…, I am an expecting mother. What should I be doing to keep myself safe during the COVID-19 virus outbreak?, As far as the research shows, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus than any other group of people. That being said, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women in the last months of pregnancy can by badly affected by some respiratory infections, and so it’s important to take precautions. “…, 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 baby," says Cadée. Transmission of active COVID-19 (the virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date. If you suspect you may have the COVID-19 virus, it is important to seek medical…, What should I do if I live in a crowded space?, Many women around the world live in close proximity to lots of other people, making physical distancing much more challenging. In such places, “I would really ask the whole community to take care of their pregnant women,” urges Cadée. She recommends that people keep their distance from pregnant women as much as possible and that certain toilets be…
23 September 2021

What you need to know about the Delta variant

People around the world are concerned about the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. We’ve gathered the latest expert information to answer some of the most common questions about this new variant.   , What is the Delta variant? , The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO because of its high transmissibility. Where the Delta variant is identified, it quickly and efficiently spreads between people. As of 10 August, the Delta variant has been reported in 142 countries and is expected to continue spreading.    , Is the Delta variant more contagious? , Yes. The Delta variant is highly contagious, about twice as contagious as previous variants. However, the same precautions, such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others, and mask-wearing, still work against the Delta variant.    , Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Delta variant?  , Yes. The WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, including against the Delta variant. When it’s your turn make sure to get vaccinated. If your vaccination involves two doses, it’s important to receive both in order to have maximum protection.   The vaccines protect most people from…, Are children more likely to contract the Delta variant? , The Delta variant does not specifically target children. There are increased rates of infection across all age groups. However, the Delta variant is more contagious than other strains and people who are mixing socially and those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to contracting the Delta variant.  Learn  how to talk to your child about…, How can I protect myself and my family against the Delta variant? , Keep updated on the level of COVID-19 transmission in your community and follow local guidance. In general, the higher the rate of transmission, the higher the risk of potential exposure in public settings. Here are some key ways to protect yourself and your loved ones:  Avoid crowded spaces and keep your distance from others.  Keep all indoor…, What is the Delta Plus variant? , The Delta Plus variant contains a new mutation in the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells. Because it is closely linked to the Delta variant, it’s been called Delta Plus rather than another letter in the Greek alphabet. So far, Delta Plus has been found in relatively low numbers.   
26 August 2021

Back to school

As we prepare to send our children back to school, we all have questions about how best to protect them from COVID-19. The impact of school closures on a child’s wellbeing is significant. Where possible, it’s important that children have an opportunity to socialize with their peers, learn, and develop emotionally. Research to date shows that…, 1. Should I send my child to school this year?, The short answer is, whenever open, yes. School closures have been shown to negatively impact child health and wellbeing, as well as their learning. The risk to children when returning to in-person school – even with new variants – is low when the school, staff and teachers follow COVID-19 recommended precautions and where safety protocols around…, 2. How do I prepare my child for school?, Remind your child about all the fun and exciting things the back-to-school will bring, such as the time with their friends and their teachers, their routine, and activities. Talk about the best ways to stay safe against COVID-19, including by keeping their hands clean, practicing physical distancing and covering their mouths and noses if they…, 3. What if my child is nervous to go back to school?, Children may be experiencing anxiety with the prospect of returning to school. Keep an eye out for signs of stress and encourage your child to talk openly about their concerns. Reassure them that the school is doing its best to protect everyone from COVID-19 and we all can do our part. Remember to be honest and understanding about their feelings.…, 4. What if my child is sick?, If your child is showing any signs of illness, such as a fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, or a cough, it is best not to send them to school. Follow your school policy and seek medical advice if necessary. On the other hand, if your child has had contact with a person infected with COVID-19, make sure to keep him/her at home following local public…, 5. Should I be taking any extra precautions, including when my child is back home from school?, Schools should be prepared to be a safe place for children and their families. Ask your child or the teacher to keep you informed about activities that may put them in close contact with others. In general, if schools are implementing the recommended safety measures, you should not be concerned about their return to home. However, if you or anyone…, 6. What if my child becomes sick at school?, If your child shows COVID-19 symptoms at school, the teacher or school staff must act quickly. Parents should be contacted immediately to evaluate the actions to be taken according to the guidelines of the local health authorities. Get in contact with your child’s doctor to evaluate the need to perform a COVID-19 test and keep the school informed…, 7. What if my child’s classmate or teacher gets sick at school?, If the school informs you that your child’s classmate or teacher tested positive for COVID-19, monitor your child’s symptoms and follow the self-isolation recommendations from your local health authorities. Seek medical care if your child shows COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, or tiredness. Keep in touch with the school to receive…, 8. Can children with asthma, obesity, diabetes and other health conditions go back to school?, The answer depends on the current condition of the child, the situation of COVID-19 in their community, and the safety measures implemented by the school. Make sure the school is implementing safety protocols that include handwashing, distancing, and ventilation. Although in most cases, children are asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms when they…