Take extra care, mothers-to-be told

PETALING JAYA: Amid a global pandemic that shows no signs of abating, expectant mothers have been advised to take extra precautions and ensure that they attend their antenatal appointments with the doctor.

A government hospital nurse who only wanted to be known as Azura said: “I hope these mothers-to-be will take extra precautions during this risky time.

“They should limit their outings and unless necessary, avoid going out of doors.

“This is especially so for those who are dealing with medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, as they may have a compromised immunity system.”

Azura related instances when some of these pregnant women were unaware that they had been infected with Covid-19.

“As a result, healthcare employees who attended to them had to undergo quarantine, which left us understaffed,” she said.

Gynaecologist Dr Milton Lum estimated that there was a drop of 70% to 75% in those seeking specialist attention at private healthcare facilities during the movement control order (MCO) period.

“Generally, there was some anxiety among patients and their spouses about going to the clinic or hospital but over time, people became more reassured and we could see patients coming back,” he said.

Lum, a former president of the Malaysian Medical Association, advised expectant mothers not to skip their antenatal appointments, as early diagnosis and treatment could be done should any complications arise.

“From reports worldwide, there is no evidence to show that Covid-19 has caused complications to women who are pregnant,” Lum added.

However, Lum urged the Health Ministry to release information on positive Covid-19 cases involving pregnant women, and details on the effects, if any, to their pregnancies.

“This information would certainly be useful for the general public as well as the attending doctors,” he said.

Fertility specialist Dr Agilan Arjunan noted a rise in demand for fertility treatments during the beginning of the MCO.

But he had to turn down requests for appointments due to safety concerns.

“From June onwards, when the Covid-19 situation improved, I noticed a surge in couples seeking fertility treatment as many people may have begun to re-evaluate their priorities in life,” he said.

He encouraged those trying to conceive to be positive, as proper planning was crucial in their fertility journey.

Dr Agilan advised pregnant women to strictly follow standard operating procedure as set out by the health authorities.

For expectant and new mothers, the level of Covid-19 precautions taken at medical facilities in the country have boosted their confidence and allayed fears over seeking treatment.

Senior business consultant Ezila Farhana Kamari, 33, said the situation in Malaysia was much better than in other countries but she would be concerned if cases in the Klang Valley start to rise.

“Although numbers are rising, the situation in Kuala Lumpur is still under control.

“The public and medical services personnel are still continuing to take precautions, so it is reassuring,” she said.

However, Ezila said that she was concerned about being out with infants, as infants have lower resistance and immunity.

“I will definitely be more cautious when in public places,” she said.

Housewife Siti Nur Diyana Zulkepli, 29, who recently delivered her third child in a government hospital in Kuala Lipis, said the services at the district hospital were better compared to those in the city.

“This may be due to the smaller crowd in this area,” she said.

She went for antenatal check-ups at a private clinic as she could not get through to the government health clinic when trying to schedule appointments.

“Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with the overall service and precaution levels at the hospitals I go to,” she said, adding that she took all the necessary preventive measures such as wearing masks and sanitising her hands.
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