The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease 2019    (COVID-19) outbreaks a global pandemic. In India, during the last six months had a tough time for everyone as government had announced the lockdown in the month of March because of day by day increasing in the number of cases of coronavirus. Pregnant women have more stress about the effects of coronavirus on their pregnancy. UNICEF data shows that India will have the largest burden of Covid19 pandemic on baby births in the world.

Coronavirus pandemic creates many hitches for the pregnant women. The pressure on the healthcare system due to the pandemic, lockdown and lack of clear guidelines have caused severe interruptions in access to maternal healthcare and antenatal services.  From the first trimester to the third trimester, pregnant women needs a proper antenatal checkups, appropriate medications, counselling and dietary advices to overcome from undesirable symptoms (like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness and giddiness, etc) of their pregnancy. This is not possible in the present circumstances, and as a result, many pregnant and lactating mothers are left without medical care – which may lead to the increased sufferings and eventual deaths of pregnant women.

According to the reports, after lockdown institutional deliveries declined as unattended on the other hand home deliveries increased. Data collection, reporting and examining have been all strictly impeded by the lockdown, and so that there is an incomplete depiction of the exact extent of the problem which pregnant women have faced. According to the NFHS 2015-16, around 70 percent of all deliveries are institutional deliveries in India. But in the coming months it will be decreased as people are afraid of coronavirus to visit in hospitals on one hand and on the other hand women unable to access antenatal services especially in the rural area. Home deliveries are not a problem but in the case of complications medical interventions are needed. Globally, it is estimated that about 830 women out of every 1,00,000 women die every day due to pregnancy related complications, according to the W.H.O report. It is also estimated that about 4,00,000 maternal deaths occur every year around the world and out of these 1,00,000 deaths occur in India. All the pregnant women are at equal risk, hence need to go hospital for regular check-ups. Some high risk cases delivers a baby.  normally and many normal cases delivers end up with high risk deliveries and this coronavirus infection makes it more worse. It has been observed that covid19 has led higher levels of depression among pregnant women. Pregnant may feel social isolation and fear of infection for themselves as well as for their infants. Lack of medical facilities and increasing number of home deliveries without the assistance of trained workers heighten the distress and depression among them. The lockdown was declared without proper planning and preparation which was clearly evident in the state’s response to the plight of migrant workers who are left without food and shelter. These migrant workers are the worst affected due to loss of employment. Thousands of migrant workers had started walking hundreds of miles to reach their respective homes, exposing the women who are pregnant to even more stress and health risks.

This is my story of lockdown. On 24th March, the government of India had declared lockdown when I was 38 weeks pregnant and I had delivered my baby on 5th April, the time in between it was so difficult for me and my family. Due to the lockdown, OPD was closed and doctors don’t want to meet. I had visited many times at hospital because I was in pain but doctor don’t scan me. They don’t want to admit me due to coronavirus infection. At last my condition became worse and I go through an emergency caesarean. This is not only happens with me but with the many others that will end up with their death for some women.

Our concern is that this isn’t a temporary setback, but one whose consequences will last for years to come. All schemes have suffered that are working for reducing maternal mortality and providing healthcare for pregnant women everywhere. From antenatal care to nutrition, weight monitoring and child health care has taken a hit due to coronavirus infection. Hence there should be provided appropriate information about Covid19 as well as counselling for reducing stress among pregnant women. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure their well being and make the necessary effort to minimize the uncertainty.

Monica Singh, Research Scholar, D/o. Sociology, A.M.U., Aligarh



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