The pandemic has brought out a lot of new revelations that we never thought existed or could happen. The latest projection by UNICEF has provided yet another news that you just wouldn’t have expected.  

According to UNICEF, India is projected to record the highest number of births in nine months since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in March, with more than 20 million babies to be born in the country between March and December.

In this race India is followed by China at 13.5 million, Nigeria at 6.4 million, Pakistan (5 million) and Indonesia (4 million).  

Most of these countries have high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and may see these levels increase with the virus conditions, UNICEF warned in a statement, saying pregnant mothers and babies born during the pandemic were threatened by strained health systems and disruptions in services.

Considering the pandemic burden, UNICEF urged governments and donors to maintain life-saving services for pregnant women and newborns. In a statement ahead of Mother’s Day, UNICEF said the babies are projected to be born up to 40 weeks after Covid.  

UNICEF warned that Covid-19 containment measures can disrupt life-saving health services such as childbirth care putting millions of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk.

UNICEF added saying that new mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities like global containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews; health centres overwhelmed with response efforts; supply and equipment shortages; and a lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants as health workers, including midwives, are redeployed to treat Covid-19 patients.

The childbirth analysis is based on data from World Population Prospects 2019 of the UN Population Division. An average full-term pregnancy typically lasts a complete 9 months, or 39 to 40 weeks. For the purposes of this estimate, the number of births for a 40-week period in 2020 was calculated.  

UNICEF warned that although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by Covid-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services.

Similarly, sick newborns need emergency services as they are at high risk of death. New families require support to start breastfeeding, and to get medicines, vaccines and nutrition to keep their babies healthy.  

While it is not yet confirmed if the virus is transmitted from mother to the baby during pregnancy and delivery, Unicef advised all pregnant women to follow precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus.

Considering that 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns died every year, or 1 every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes, it becomes really important to be extra cautious about it right now.