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COVID-2019. Overload of health systems threatens pregnant women and newborns

UNICEF urges governments and donors to maintain vital services for pregnant women and newborns.


According to UNICEF, almost 116 million newborns will be born during the coronavirus pandemic. The babies are expected to be born with coronavirus as a contagion in the 40 weeks following the March 11 announcement, a time when health care systems and medical supplies and equipment supply chains are already overloaded.


Newly expectant mothers and newborns face difficult times, including limitations such as self-isolation and curfews. Medical facilities are overloaded with the fight against coronavirus. There is a shortage of equipment and delays in supplies, as well as a shortage of skilled nurses following childbirth, as nurses, including midwives, are equipped to treat those infected with coronavirus.


“Millions of women wanted to become mothers in the world we knew. Now they must be ready to live in a completely different world. A world where pregnant women are reluctant to visit medical facilities for fear of becoming infected or not receiving emergency medical care due to an overcrowded health care system or self-isolation, ”said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “It’s hard to imagine how much the coronavirus has changed motherhood.”


In the run-up to May Family Day, UNICEF warns that coronavirus outbreaks could disrupt health care, such as childbirth, endangering millions of pregnant women and their babies.


India (20.1 million), China (13.5 million), Nigeria (6.4 million), Pakistan (5 million) and Indonesia (4 million) are the countries with the highest birth rates in the nine months following the announcement of pandemic. Most of these countries have had high infant mortality rates even before the pandemic, and that rate could rise due to coronavirus.


Even the richest countries are suffering from this crisis. The United States, the sixth largest country in terms of births, is projected to have more than 3.3 million births between March 11th and December 16th. Authorities in New York are trying to find alternative delivery centers because many pregnant women are afraid to give birth in hospitals.


UNICEF notes that while evidence suggests that pregnant women are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus than others, states should provide prenatal, obstetric and postpartum services. It should be taken into account that unhealthy infants need urgent medical attention because they are at risk of death. New families need support for mothers to start breastfeeding, get proper medication, vaccinations, and proper nutrition to keep their babies healthy.


In particular,

  • Assist pregnant women in prenatal care, provide skilled care during childbirth, as well as postpartum care, and, if necessary, provide medical care for coronavirus.
  • Provide medical personnel with the necessary personal protective equipment, such as pre-testing and vaccinations as soon as the CODIV-19 vaccine becomes available, so that they can provide high-quality care to all pregnant women and newborns during the pandemic.
  • Ensure that all means of infection prevention and control are available in the maternity ward during childbirth and immediately after delivery.
  • Allow medical workers to help pregnant women and new parents through home visits.
  • To provide financial resources for the implementation of vital services, as well as appropriate equipment and equipment for maternal and child health.


Although it is not yet known whether the virus is transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, UNICEF advises pregnant women:


  • Follow the precautionary measures. Take care of their health carefully to detect the symptoms of COVID-19 and contact the nearest appropriate facility if they have any complaints or symptoms.
  • Use all precautions to protect themselves from infection, as well as to keep physical distance, avoid crowded places and, if possible, use online medical advice.
  • Continue to breastfeed their baby, even if they are infected or suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, as the virus has not been found in breast milk samples. Mothers infected with coronavirus should wear a mask when feeding their baby. Wash their hands before touching baby, then clean and disinfect surfaces frequently touched with their hands.
  • Continue to hug the baby and keep the skin-to-skin contact.
  • Check with their midwife or doctor where it is safest to give birth, make a birth plan to avoid unnecessary worries and get there on time.
  • Continue medical procedures, including routine vaccinations, after the baby is born.

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