01 September 2023

Navigating pregnancy and COVID-19

Pregnancy is a special time full of excitement and anticipation, but a positive COVID test can cause fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Read our expert tips on how to keep yourself and your baby safe., Jump to:, Understanding my risk How to protect myself If I have COVID-19 will I pass it to my baby? I have COVID-19. Can I safely breastfeed my baby? Getting the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant Getting the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding COVID-19 vaccines and fertility, I'm pregnant. Am I at higher risk from COVID-19?, Pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. However, you are at higher risk of serious illness if you get COVID-19 while pregnant. You are also at higher risk of delivering your baby prematurely if you get COVID-19. That’s why it’s important that you – and the people around you – take precautions to protect against…, What should I do to protect myself from COVID-19 while pregnant?, Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. To help protect yourself and people around you: Make sure you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster doses, as recommended to you by your health authority. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub., If I have COVID-19 will I pass it to my baby?, Transmission of the virus while your baby is in the womb or during birth is possible, but very rare. Most babies won't develop COVID-19 disease, and those who develop symptoms tend to recover quickly.  The best thing you can do is to take all necessary precautions to prevent yourself from contracting COVID-19. If you’re pregnant or have just given…, I have COVID-19. Can I safely breastfeed my baby?, Yes. Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date, so there is no reason to stop or avoid breastfeeding. The benefits of skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of transmission and illness associated with COVID-19. If…, Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?, Yes, you can get vaccinated if you are pregnant. Although the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 remains low, pregnancy puts you at higher risk of severe illness compared to people who are not pregnant. You are also at higher risk of delivering your baby prematurely if you contract COVID-19.Many people around the world have been…, Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?, Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is very safe and there is no risk to the mother or baby. None of the current COVID-19 vaccines have live virus in them, so there is no risk of you transmitting COVID-19 to your baby through your breastmilk from the vaccine. In fact, the antibodies that you have after vaccination may go through the breast milk and help…, I plan to have a child. 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. You should get vaccinated if you are currently trying to become pregnant.
10 January 2023

What you need to know about stillbirths

One stillbirth happens every 16 seconds. That’s about 2 million babies stillborn every year. What makes these deaths even more tragic is that the majority could have been prevented through quality care during pregnancy and at birth. Stillbirths are happening with alarming frequency in many countries. And while some progress has been made in…, Key facts about stillbirths, Since 2000, an estimated 53 million babies have been stillborn  Stillbirth is a huge burden globally, with 1 in 72 births ending in stillbirth Most stillbirths, about 8 in 10, occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia Over 40 per cent of stillbirths occur during labour The majority of stillbirths can be prevented through quality care during…, What is a stillbirth?, A stillbirth is defined as a baby born with no signs of life after a given threshold, usually related to the gestational age (period of time between conception and birth) or weight of the baby. As stillbirths are reported in different ways across countries, the UN stillbirth estimates in this article refer to “late gestation fetal deaths” as…, What are the main causes of stillbirths?, Commonly reported causes of stillbirth include complications during childbirth, haemorrhage before childbirth (including placental abruption), infections and maternal conditions, and pregnancy complications with fetal growth restriction as a common underlying cause. A mother’s health is also linked to causes of stillbirth. An estimated 10 per cent…, Why do so many women have stillbirths during labour?, Over 40 per cent of stillbirths occur during labour. Common causes of stillbirths that occur during labour are hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), placental obstruction and other delivery and labour related complications. Many of these can be avoided if key interventions, such as assisted vaginal delivery, skilled birth attendants or emergency C-…, Where do most stillbirths happen?, In 2021, about half of all stillbirths occurred in six countries: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, in order of burden (highest to lowest).  On average, the risk of a stillbirth is more than seven times higher in low-income countries (21 stillbirths per 1,000 total births) than in high-income…, Why is there so much stigma around stillbirths?, In some cultures, stillbirths are perceived as the mother’s fault, resulting in public shaming or individual feelings of guilt or shame that prevent public mourning of their loss. The lack of opportunity to publicly grieve can cause stillbirths to be considered “non-events”. Such social taboos, stigmas and misconceptions often silence families or…, What are the psychological impacts of stillbirths on mothers and families?, Women and their partners who experience stillbirth have higher rates of depression, anxiety and other psychological symptoms that may be long lasting. For many women, losing their child and the subsequent care they receive will impact their approach to life and death, self-esteem and even their own identity. Many women who experience a stillbirth…, What needs to be done to reduce stillbirths?, Improved health systems and high-quality antenatal and delivery care are critical to ending preventable stillbirths. This means access to functional health facilities with adequate medicine and equipment, electricity, running water, soap and blankets, and the availability of round-the-clock referral systems every day of the week. Adequate numbers…, What is UNICEF doing to reduce stillbirths?, Every day UNICEF is working around the world to make affordable, quality health care a reality for every mother and baby. In 2019, there were more than 27 million safe births in UNICEF-supported health facilities. UNICEF and partners are calling for a renewed commitment to end preventable stillbirths by 2030 as outlined in the Every Newborn Action…
15 November 2022

Kangaroo mother care is ensuring premature babies thrive in Iraq

Shaneen was just 26 weeks into her pregnancy when she suddenly went into labour. “I had no hope when the baby was arriving so early,” she remembers.   Despite her worries, she delivered a healthy son, Mateen. “When he was born, he started crying. The doctor told me that he is in good health. This planted hope in my heart.”  Mateen was rushed to an…, How kangaroo mother care can help a baby and caregiver bond, Mateen is among the babies who are benefiting from kangaroo mother care. It’s a method that helps infants to adapt to life outside the womb. Skin-to-skin contact is a core component. The baby snuggles on the parent's chest, finding a position that is comfortable, often with a blanket wrapped around them, almost like a kangaroo’s protective pouch…, The transition from incubator to going home, Loujian is another mother who’s thankful for kangaroo mother care. Her daughter Rose was born 12 weeks early. After 45 days on the unit, Loujian was finally able to take her home. Rose is now 6 months old and Loujian has brought her in for a follow up visit.  Loujian holds her daughter while sitting on a chair at the kangaroo mother care unit. “I…, Meet the healthcare hero running the ward, Alwand Rafeeq is the head of the neonatal section. She’s incredibly thankful for the work that she’s a part of every day.   “I love my job very much and I feel a great commitment to these children,” she says. “I feel very proud of myself and the staff that make sure these babies leave here in good health.”  Alwand Rafeeq stands next to an…