In the prevailing condition of coronavirus, an increase in the stillbirth is evident from many types of research. Stillbirth refers to the fatality of the infant in the womb during pregnancy.
Many researchers consider lockdown as the fundamental reason for the rise in stillbirths. The implementation of lockdown due to the pandemic resulted in the disruption of health care. Hence, increasing complications in pregnancy and improper looking after the pregnant woman leads to stillbirth.
What Causes Stillbirth?
Jane Warland elaborates that the spike in stillbirths occurs as a result of protecting pregnant women from COVID.
In one study, about 9 hospitals in Nepal analyzed 20,000 pregnant women. The findings enlightened a spike in the stillbirth rate, later published in The Lancet Global Health.
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On account of lockdown, the rate of stillbirths increases by 50%. There has been a rise from 14 per 1,000 births to 21per 1,000 births since the country went into lockdown. The first four weeks of lockdown had the illest effects as the disease spread rapidly, permitting people to leave their homes for food and other essentials of life.
According to Ashish K.C., one of the leading authors, during the pandemics, the rate of stillbirths increased. But there was no change in the overall number of stillbirths. Furthermore, they have no idea about those mothers who were unable to come to hospitals for delivery. Before the pandemics, 1261 births per week occurred. However, it got reduced to half. According to their findings, there were more complications relating to pregnancy during the lockdown.
Ashish explains that the reason for complications and increase stillbirths’ ratio was not COVID-19 infections. Moreover, this is due to repeated cancelation of antenatal appointments and being unable to get accurate health advice along with a suitable environment. Across the globe, COVID-19 is in association with an increase in the rate of death in diabetic and heart patients.
Lockdown Took Many Lives
Nepal has been showing significant progress regarding the health of women and their babies in the last 20 years. However, pandemics negatively affected their efforts.
Asma Khalil is an obstetrician at St George’s Hospital in London. She, along with her colleagues, reported that the number of stillbirths increased during the pandemics. An increase from 2.38 per 1000 births to 9.31 per 1000 births occurs during COVID in St George’s Hospital.
She states that pregnant women being a victim to the fear of COVID-19 avoids hospital and only visits in case of emergency. Moreover, this is due to a lack of consultation and regular checkup complications occurring and hence causing stillbirths.
Incidents of stillbirths have increased in India as well. On account of more births happening in the absence of doctors and health facilities at homes or small clinics. Scotland has also detected an increase in the number of stillbirths during pandemics.
Keeping Tabs On The Future
In usual scenarios, the World Health Organization suggests pregnant women visit a medical professional or gynecologist. At least eight times during the nine months of pregnancy. Ask the medical practitioner before taking any medicine.
Conduct regular checkups even if it’s a low-risk case. Thus, avoiding any complications that can be fatal for a mother, baby, or both. The WHO states the risk of stillbirth can decrease if pregnant women sleep on their side from the 28th week of gestation. Avoid smoking and drinking.
If the baby stops moving on the spur of the moment, inform their midwife or doctor. Pregnant women need regular monitoring for risk factors like high blood pressure throughout pregnancy and restricted fetal growth.
During pandemics, face to face contact with pregnant women was not possible.
To completely understand the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and stillbirth. Further population-based studies are required.