COVID-19 was truly an unprecedented event for all of us. It was the first time life hit an actual pause button, and people got the opportunity to step back and evaluate their life. While the experiences everyone felt were varied, the general consensus was that people realised how precious life is.
The COVID-19 shutdown initially seemed to hit pause on pregnancy and birth rates, new research from one major hospital system suggests, but that trend is quickly reversing.”Birth rates declined early on in the pandemic, but we expect a dramatic rebound soon. In order to understand this trend, we at TC46 spoke to Dr Neha Bothara, Consultant-Obstetrics & Gynecology, Hiranandani Hospital, Fortis Network Hospital to gain insight.
1. How has Covid-19 affected the rate and trend of pregnancies in India?
Though it is very difficult to attribute something like the birth rate of a population to one single factor, the COVID19 pandemic did give us a chance to notice changes because of its sheer impact on our lives at every level. At the beginning of the pandemic, the reduced stress and change in daily routine benefitted couples suffering from sub-fertility, who noticed a rise in spontaneous pregnancies. The economic impact of the pandemic resulted in many couples avoiding or delaying pregnancies. With the pandemic now at its fag end, there is definitely a rise in couples planning pregnancies.
2. How big of a surge has been observed with unplanned pregnancies in India?
This is a difficult question to answer in a quantified manner as data is not that easily available.
3. What are the causes of the rising rate of unplanned pregnancies in India?
Again, this is a tough question to answer as there is not enough official data to support the statement. However, with day to day experiences in the hospital, we did notice the surge, especially in the latter half of the pandemic.
4. Could you share all of the available safe sex contraception options available in India?
There are many easy-to-use and safe contraceptive options available in India. Safe sex means not only preventing unwanted pregnancy but also Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Condoms are the safest option for preventing STD transmission. Female condoms are far more effective than male condoms for preventing STD transmission. For the purpose of preventing pregnancies, oral contraceptive pills and Intra-Uterine Devices are safe & effective.
5. How does an unplanned pregnancy affect the physical, mental health of the couple as well as family dynamics, and the financial situation especially during the pandemic?
An unplanned pregnancy can affect the entire situation in a family. The financial commitment of raising a child is substantial. Mother’s understandably have a greater time commitment toward their baby which can affect their career plans.
Termination of a pregnancy can never be an easy decision for the woman or her husband. At the same time, the long-term commitment of raising a child can seem daunting to the couple who has been unprepared mentally & financially for the same. The added stress of an economic downslope like the pandemic has been experienced all over the world and can be difficult to overcome, with the child in mind.