Pregnant During the Omicron Outbreak? Here’s What You Need to Know
Pregnancy is one of the most blissful but equally demanding times in a woman’s life. Each pregnancy is different, and so is its set of uncertainties and challenges that come along with it. But, for a mother-to-be, giving birth to a little baby in the middle of a global pandemic will undoubtedly amp up her anxiety stress levels, as her unborn baby’s health and well-being are her primary focus during the nine months of her pregnancy.
Pregnant women, during this COVID-19 pandemic and with the new Omicron variant in place, will have multiple questions on their minds, which we shall now discuss below.
Are Pregnant Women at a Greater Risk of Contracting COVID-19?
Although the risks are mostly low, pregnant women are at a higher risk for falling ill from the COVID-19 virus. It’s important to note that there are also higher chances of preterm birth, i.e. delivering their baby before 37 weeks, stillbirth, and pregnancy complications in pregnant women affected by COVID-19. This is because the pregnancy changes reduce the immunity in general, called immunosuppression. Thus, shrinking the capability to fight against this dangerous disease.
What Are the Symptoms of the Omicron Variant in Pregnant Women?
As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have listed the following as the main symptoms of the Omicron virus:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
However, it is not compulsory for all symptoms to be present at the same time to determine the chances of infection.
Does COVID-19 Affect the Baby in the Womb?
When the fetus grows in the mother’s womb, the placenta plays the role of a protective barrier between the baby and mother. The placenta blocks the transmission of any disease and helps pass the antibodies to the growing fetus. It may so happen that the COVID-19 virus passes on to the fetus during pregnancy.
Is the COVID-19 Vaccination Necessary for Pregnant Women?
During the early vaccination trials and because of many conflicting thoughts and theories, many pregnant women avoided taking the COVID shots and were exposed to the quickly-spreading Omicron virus. Since the increase in transmission can lead to hospitalisations and even deaths in rare cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that it should not be treated lightly.
According to WHO, as far as the advantages of vaccines are concerned, these vaccines have the ability to protect pregnant women against any potential pregnancy risks. The vaccination helps the mother build antibodies that can protect the fetus.
Therefore, it is recommended to take the vaccines and booster doses to safeguard both the mother and the baby. However, do consult your doctor before going ahead.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Baby From the Omicron Virus?
It’s important to know that though vaccines are COVID-19 resistant, they are not COVID-19 proof. It can take just a single unvaccinated family member to infect everyone else in the family, including a pregnant woman. The following precautions can be taken to protect yourself and your baby if you’re pregnant:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and get a good night’s sleep. Pregnancy can reduce one’s immunity, so be careful as you could suffer from various infections and allergies along with COVID-19.
- Stay active, and do breathing exercises. It is recommended to exercise at home to ward off any risk of contracting COVID-19. Meditation and yoga help alleviate any anxiety and stress due to COVID-19. Breathing exercises help improve the functioning of the lungs.
- Do not allow visitors at home. Also, avoid any crowded places and social gatherings to stay safe.
- Avoid touching your face or mouth after touching potentially contaminated surfaces like door handles, knobs, or furniture.
- Always wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
- If you are pregnant and diagnosed as COVID-positive, then quarantine yourself and follow your doctor’s instructions. Regularly monitor your oxygen levels and temperature.
While Omicron may be the latest COVID-19 variant, it’s definitely not the final one. By being careful and following these simple precautionary tips during pregnancy, you can help prevent a dangerous infection—and drive away those pregnancy fears!