There are a number of theories on how COVID-19 affects pregnant women and their babies. Health experts don’t yet have a definitive answer for us either as not enough information is available. It was widely reported in the early days of COVID-19 that the coronavirus does not pose any negative effects in pregnancy. This was according to a Northwestern Medicine study.
With health facilities being overwhelmed and in some cases – overrun by COVID-19 cases – health care workers and an increasing number of women are anxious about accessing medical services, which includes reproductive health services.
Reproductive health is vital at a time like this. The COVID-19 pandemic, for both intentional and unintended pregnancies, makes it even more dangerous for a woman and her unborn child. This heightens the importance of reproductive health and family planning services which must be considered essential health needs.
For women planning to get pregnant, it may be wise to delay pregnancy until the health systems are not as overwhelmed with patients who have critical needs. Many low and middle-income countries will find it difficult to do so due to limited services, providers, and supplies, as well as restricted mobility during lockdowns.
The need for family planning services may be increased, with the usual way of accessing services having to adapt to the changing environment. Services such as the Telemedicine consultation have been implemented to provide a convenient way for women who are unable to visit nearby centres for selected services, but still receive the same care and assurance associated with visiting a clinic.
In some instances, some healthcare workers have been withdrawn from antenatal care and family planning services to focus on the COVID-19 emergency response. This has led to a shortage of reproductive health workers, with some healthcare facilities closing operation to reduce crowds and close gatherings within the facility. Meanwhile the potential for pregnancy has increased now more than ever as couples are in constant close proximity.
Along with the Telemedicine Consultation service, due to the current challenges and restrictions, innovation and creativity to meet the reproductive health needs of women can be done by the following:
- Household visits by community health workers and volunteers
- Promote the use of long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods, such as IUDs or implants
- Provide options and information about family planning methods that don’t require a medical professional or clinical visit
How Marie Stopes can help you
Speak to one of our trained service providers who will guide you through the process of finding the most suitable contraceptive for you. Our Telemedicine service is also available to ensure you get the best reproductive health advice and services available to you.