Docs asked to hold off on C-sections to help fight against Covid-19

Doctors and hospitals will be encouraging women to give birth the old-fashioned way in an effort to conserve protective medical gear.
Doctors and hospitals will be encouraging women to give birth the old-fashioned way in an effort to conserve protective medical gear.
Image: 123RF/Jozef Polc

Doctors and hospitals will be encouraging women to give birth the old-fashioned way in an effort to conserve protective medical gear.

The protective clothing would usually be worn by the team of doctors and nurses during a caesarean delivery — but this gear will be essential in the fight against Covid-19, chairperson of the SA Medical Council Dr Angelique Coetzee said.

But there is a second benefit, she said.

“Natural delivery would also ensure that woman could leave hospital sooner, freeing up beds for other patients,” said Coetzee.

In March a study by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) revealed that 76.9% of births covered by medical aids were via C-section.

Prof Priya Soma-Pillay from the SA Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SASOG) said that the foetus was unlikely to be exposed to Covid-19 during pregnancy and that it was also unlikely that transmission could take place during breastfeeding.

According to SASOG, there had been only one recorded transmission of a mother passing the virus on to her child during vaginal birth and there was not enough evidence that vaginal birth was the cause of the transmission.

But some women will still opt for a C-section.

Last week Disa Jordaan, from Benoni, blacked out at a family dinner. It was her first panic attack and, she believes, the result of worrying about how she will manage her pregnancy through the pandemic.

The 31-year-old is due in August and will be having a caesarean at Arwyp Medical Centre Private Hospital in Kempton Park. But she is concerned over whether there will be space in the hospital come her due date.

The couple have no medical aid and will be paying cash for the procedure.

The sales executive has been self-isolating with her son and daughter, 8 and 6, as a precaution.

Her fiancé, a medical sales rep, has to work through the lockdown.

“Before I blacked out I was thinking about what to do during the three weeks [of lockdown]. Do I take leave — is it paid? My income is fixed but my fiancé is on contract work. If he doesn’t work then there is no pay, but if he works then he risks bringing home the virus. And what if I do get the virus? What will medication do to my baby?”

Delia Laas, 40, from Ballito is due on May 4 and quit her job earlier this year before she knew about the virus and the effect it would have on her finances.

Her partner will have to shut his newly opened home décor store for three weeks.

She will be having a C-section at the Netcare Umhlanga private hospital because her gynaecologist said a natural birth would be too risky for her.

“I am so scared of contracting the virus at hospital. It’s my first child so I am already nervous, and we tried so hard to get pregnant,” she said.

Laas said they hadn’t bought many baby clothes as they were counting on clothing gifts from a now-cancelled baby shower.


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