DOH tells pregnant women: Don't be afraid to give birth in hospitals

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 9) — The Department of Health on Thursday assured pregnant women it is safe to give birth in hospitals and other health facilities amid the coronavirus crisis.

"Huwag tayong mangamba na manganak sa ospital (Let us not be afraid to deliver in hospitals)," the DOH said in an infographic posted on its Facebook page.

The agency assured expectant mothers that hospitals are following strict infection prevention and control measures to prevent any spread of COVID-19 in their facilities.

"Sa panahon ngayon na may COVID-19, pinakaligtas pa ring manganak sa isang health facility na nagbibigay ng birthing services," the DOH said.

[Translation: Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the safest place to give birth is still in a health facility that provides birthing services.]

It added that they should still undergo pre-natal checkups or consult with their doctors through call, text or e-mail.

The DOH said barangay officials can provide for the pregnant women's transportation since all mass transport systems are suspended amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine and lockdowns in other areas.

If a pregnant woman decides to give birth in a different facility, she should ask for a referral or endorsement from her initial health care provider, the DOH said.

It reminded all pregnant women to always wash their hands and avoid crowded places to prevent infection. It also advised mothers to continue taking iron-folic acid supplements, follow a healthy diet, and exercise proper handwashing especially before touching their newborn babies.

Earlier on Thursday, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III called on the DOH to come up with protocols on childbirth amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Pregnant women are one of the most vulnerable at this time. They worry about COVID and they worry about their pregnancy," Pimentel said in a statement.

He said there should be a game plan for expectant mothers who would test positive for COVID-19.

"The venue for the delivery as well as the team of heroic doctors nurses and other health workers who are willing to work on these cases must be identified, prepared, and properly equipped as early as possible," he said.

The senator, who himself contracted the coronavirus, sparked public outrage in March after accompanying his pregnant wife Kathryna to the Makati Medical Center when he was supposed to be under home quarantine. Pimentel has since apologized for the breach of quarantine protocol, but a complaint has been filed against him before the Department of Justice.

Nationwide, the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 4,076, with 203 deaths and 124 recoveries.