Does covid-19 lockdown have any impact on premature birth?
Covid-19 took the world by surprise where the impact it has had has been devastating the anticipated. The first cases were discovered as early as the end of December 2019. This was the first of many cases that would spread across the globe. China was the first country to be affected by the covid-19 as the first cases were noted in Wuhan, China. By the end of January 2020, thousands had contracted Covid-19, and many had died. This forced the hands of the World Health Organization (WHO). With Covid-19 being declared as a pandemic and thousands contracting the disease and causing many deaths, restrictive measures were implemented across the globe. Some of the measures include movement sensation, curfew and lockdown. Covid-19 lockdown caused a devastating impact across the globe where it had social and economic impact resulting from the restrictions. With lockdown having a negative impact on the community in general, are there any positive impact? Is there any light behind the tunnel?
Premature birth has always been of concern across the globe, where these births are causing health complications in the infants and also the mothers. The WHO has estimated that approximately 15 million infants have been born prematurely each year, which is quite a high number (2018). The WHO has estimated the number of premature babies born out of the number of babies born is 1 out of 10 babies. The WHO has also estimated that one million premature babies die yearly which is due to the various complications that come about. It has been identified that children that survive may have a disability or have health complications. With covid-19 lockdown being implemented across the globe, it has been noted that premature births have declined. This begs the question, Does covid-19 lockdown have any impact on the rate of premature births?
With many countries implementing measures to mitigate the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, Denmark is one of the many countries that enacted lockdown (Kearney & George, 2020). This lockdown led to the closure of workplaces, schools, eateries and other public places. With lockdown in place, it has led to people spending more time at home than pregnant women where they don't have to go to work, restaurant, or other public places. Pregnant women spending more time at home has allowed them to rest more as there are fewer physical activities. Covid-19 has caused fear and stress across the globe ad with lockdown implemented, stress and anxiety have increased, especially due to the minimized social connections. According to research, fear, stress, and anxiety are triggers that influence premature birth, but this has not been the case during the lockdown as pregnant women seem to be at ease as they receive support and care from their loved ones (Hedermann, et.al, 2020) With increase support, care and minimum physical activity, minimize premature births can these factors be implemented without relying on covid-19 lockdown. The theoretical framework will help explain how support, care and minimum physical activity prevents premature birth.
To better understand premature birth, the transactional model of stress and coping helps explain how premature births come about. This model was developed by Richard Folksman and Susanna Lazarus (Lowenkron, 1999). The model identified that stress is brought about by the environment an individual is in. The transactional model stipulates that stress is a cognitive judgment, which triggers a certain behaviour or response. The model also identifies that surrounding or activity triggers stress since it is regarded to be threatening or harmful. Stress is a major factor that causes premature birth, and in regards to the transactional model of stress and coping, the environment or situation the pregnant woman is in causes stress to the pregnant woman. When a pregnant woman is at work or being involved in physical activity, it is a source of stress as a pregnant woman requires less work and less physical demands. In relation to Folkman and Lazarus' transactional model, fewer physical demands will minimize stress, preventing premature birth. With a pregnant woman is at home receiving support and care, it relieves stress which is suitable for pregnancy, and this minimizes the chances of premature birth.
The covid-19 lockdown has minimized movements and allowed pregnant women to stay much at home, and this allowed them to rest more and also have less physical demands required. Stressful environment and physical demands have been a major source of stress leading to premature birth. Lockdown has helped women experience less stress, which has led to fewer premature births. To help minimize cases of premature births even after covid-19 lockdown, a policy on compulsory three to four months maternity leave should be enforced in all companies. The leave should also be a paid leave. The policy on leave would help pregnant women from incurring premature births as they would be freed from high physical demands. The work environment can also be stressful due to job pressure, and being at home will help ease the stress, which will help prevent premature birth. The other recommendation is that pregnant women should be prescribed eight hours of sleep daily. Sleeping these recommendable hours will allow the pregnant woman to sleep more, and this will provide for them to rest, which will relieve them to rest.
Premature babies include following issues
- Breathing problems and its called Respiratory Distress Syndrome
- Heart problems and its called Patent Ductus Arteriosus
- Problems in their digestive tract
Despite the adverse effects of the covid-19 lockdown, there has been light behind the light where it has helped reduce premature births cases, which is a positive impact. The lockdown has minimized movements and made pregnant women stay home. This has allowed them to rest and also made them be involved in less physical demands. Proper rest and minimum stress will help minimize premature births as stress triggers premature birth.