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RESIDENT CORNER
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 352-353

Pregnancy through the pandemic: From the diary of a pregnant doctor in the times of COVID-19


Department of Onco-Anaesthesia, Pain and Palliative Medicine, DR. BRAIRCH, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission10-May-2021
Date of Decision18-May-2021
Date of Acceptance23-May-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ruchi Singh
B6/68 Safdarjung Enclave, Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_100_21

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How to cite this article:
Singh R. Pregnancy through the pandemic: From the diary of a pregnant doctor in the times of COVID-19. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:352-3

How to cite this URL:
Singh R. Pregnancy through the pandemic: From the diary of a pregnant doctor in the times of COVID-19. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Sep 17];4:352-3. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2021/4/2/352/320167



What follows here is a short story summed up in two simple sentences - I am a healthcare worker. And I was pregnant through this COVID-19 pandemic.

I say this is a “short” story because, along with all my fellow doctors, I still had the world to save! Then, how important is the story of the life of the little one being nurtured in the womb? Well, if we ponder over it for a while, most of us would agree that this little one's story has its own importance. Even in a world going through a pandemic and it is worth a million efforts to protect the unborn to welcome him/her safely into the world.

On January 30, 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This declaration was WHO's highest level of alert, a rallying cry to all countries to take heed and respond immediately. Practically, the entire country entered a state of “lockdown”! All institutes, schools, and colleges were closed. Most of the offices and organizations were shut. The high-risk population was advised to stay shut inside their homes. This “high-risk population” included pregnant women, according to all the leading healthcare organizations. So what was a pregnant healthcare worker like me supposed to do? Doctors were the only hope to keep this world going, and I mean it literally, this time!

My pregnancy was personal, but this problem for a pregnant healthcare worker during the pandemic was global. Different healthcare organizations addressed this issue in varying ways, with varying related to the pregnant healthcare worker different levels of empathy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists based their directives on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider limiting the exposure of a pregnant healthcare workers to patients confirmed or suspected to be infected with COVID-19, especially during the higher-risk procedures (e.g. aerosol-generating procedures) if feasible based on staff availability, allowing patient-facing roles as preferred or required, However, various other societies had a different take on the matter. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RAnzcog) advised avoidance of patient-facing roles emphasizing that pregnant women were often anxious about their health and were protective of their unborn babies. Appropriate consideration was advised for the reallocation of pregnant healthcare workers to lower-risk duties, working from home, or leave of absence.

On the other hand, our Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advised the allocation of pregnant healthcare workers to “non-COVID areas” of the hospital. I believe that when we were in the community transmission phase of this pandemic, defining the non-COVID areas of the hospitals was quite difficult. The lines between COVID and non-COVID areas were blurring day-by-day with the exponential spread of the disease. Given the sensitivity of the issue, sitting behind closed doors was in no way acceptable to any healthcare worker. More and more people were dying every day-doctors were dying every day. Many of my coworkers were getting affected; their their families were getting affected too. I had to take measures to face the problem, to face the pandemic, and last but not the least, to face the pregnancy!

What could help in such times?

In my opinion, only a careful and personalized approach from one's institution helps in such times. It helped in my case, at least. I work in one of the best oncology setups-in my country. A well-thought through patient-facing role with all the personal protective equipment (PPE) and precautions was assigned to me by the head of my department and the concerned faculty members. While my fellow doctors were fighting battling COVID-19 in the high-risk areas, I continued to contribute to the care of patients with cancer not affected by COVID-19, thus staying at the forefront of this fight to save lives.

Donning the PPE for hours at length and breathing through that N95 respirator would get increasingly more difficult as my pregnancy advanced. But then, what was easy anyway in such challenging times. For the first time in my life, I was a patient and a doctor at the same time. I believe these working conditions provided me better insights into my patients' situations. Now I better understood what it meant when my patients complained of being unable to breathe, eat, or sleep. The only difference was that they were suffering from 'cancer,' one word that drove me to become a palliative care physician, to render my services to allay their pain even when cure was not much of an option. My patients taught me that even when life looks challenging, it must go on. They gave me hope that together, we would be able to conquer COVID-19 someday.

The world is exploring the new 'online' way of living, or rather, surviving now. However, to give this world the hope that it is not the end yet, doctors leave their houses every day and step into a world of PPE and glass chambers. My little article is for all those pregnant doctors who are working through the pandemic, and for all those who will continue doing so, no matter how high the risk may be. Let us contribute as much as we can, with all the necessary precautions. Whether it be through providing telemedicine services, outpatient services, or whatever means, every little step counts when we have the world to save!

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.






 

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