The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has advised pregnant women to stay at home throughout the course of their pregnancy except when visiting the hospital for antenatal care.
The centre said in its guidelines released on Wednesday that while it is not established if pregnant women are more susceptible to COVID-19, “it is known that the bodily changes that occur during pregnancy, may put expectant women at increased risk for some infections.”
The centre asked expectant mothers to strictly adhere to all the stipulated COVID-19 guidelines, adding that it is safer to err on the side of caution.
“It is not currently known if pregnant women are more susceptible to COVID-19 than the general public, nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Based on available information, pregnant women seem to be at equal risk as other adults,” the NCDC said.
“However, it is known that the bodily changes that occur during pregnancy, may put expectant women at increased risk for some infections.
“Pregnant women have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.
“Therefore, pregnant women should take the same precautions as the general public to avoid COVID-19 infection.”
It further advised the women to eat healthy and nutritious meals and ensure they get adequate bed rest.
For pregnant or lactating women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection, the centre advised that they immediately isolate themselves and contact the NCDC.
It advised that it is safer for lactating mothers who have tested positive for the virus to manually pump breast milk to be fed to their babies.
“If you think you may have coronavirus, or you have been exposed, are pregnant and you have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay at home for 14 days. Do not go to the hospital but contact your doctor and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll free number 0800-9700 0010 or state epidemiologist immediately,” the guidelines read.
“You will be assessed in line with current case definition guidelines set out by the NCDC. You should contact your clinic to inform them that you have symptoms suggestive of coronavirus, particularly if you have any routine appointment in the next 7 days.
“They should postpone routine antenatal visits until after the isolation period is over and arrange the right place and time for you to come for your visits. You should not attend a routine clinic. There may be a need for them to reduce the number of antenatal visits you have.
“In limited studies, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk; however, it is not known for sure whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk.
“You, along with your family and healthcare providers, should decide whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding.
“Another good option is to pump or express by hand the breast milk and have someone who is not sick feed it to the baby.”
As of August 25, a total of 52,800 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, out of which 39,964 patients have been discharged, while 1,007 infected persons have died.