Giving birth in the new normal comes with many changes, not to mention, additional costs. Perhaps the biggest change is that pregnant women are now asked to take a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test or swab test before giving birth.
"The recommendation of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society is that all pregnant women, regardless kung may symptom o wala, ay magkaroon sila ng swab test prior to giving birth,” says Dr. Maynila Domingo, an obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in maternal fetal medicine at Manila Medical Center, during the third episode of SmartParenting.com.ph’s How Po? titled “The New Normal in Pregnancy and Childbirth.”
She adds, “Sa pag-aaral kasi, ang pinaka-proven na pwedeng gamitin for detection for diagnosis is the swab test.”
The best time to take a swab test if you’re pregnant
Most preggos will be asked to take their swab tests during their 37th week. However, it is crucial to talk to your obstetrician beforehand. “Kasi iniisip natin at 37 weeks, you are already ‘term’ or sakto na sa buwan. Safe nang manganak, any time pwede nang manganak. But again, it will depend on your obstetrician, ‘yung assessment niya,” Dr. Domingo shares.
“Kunwari in-examine ‘yung kwelyo ng matres. Internal examination po ‘yung tawag dun. Kapag chineck, irregular pa ‘yung hilab so mukhang matatagalan pa bago manganak. The swab can be delayed for 1 or 2 more weeks. Ang goal kasi natin, yung result ng swab test, within 14 days ma-a-admit ka. Because, of course, you have to understand that that test will only be valid for a certain number of days. Kasi after that pwede ka nang magkaroon ng exposure, pwedeng nag-incubate na ulit ‘yung virus sa ‘iyo,” Dr. Domingo adds.
After the swab test is done, the recommendation is for the woman to be isolated, in order to prevent additional exposure. “Even if you have a negative [result], it doesn’t mean that you won’t have the virus anymore. Kasi kung tinest kita ngayon, wala ka na dapat ibang exposure,” Dr. Domingo explains. “They have to consult their obstetrician for the most appropriate timing of testing.”
How much does a swab test cost?
Swab tests can cost anywhere between Php3,000 to Php13,000, according to Dr. Domingo. The price will depend on which facility you had the test done and how soon you want to get your result.
Repeat swab tests may be required should you fail to go on labor within 14 days, which is the validity of the results. You may also be asked to take additional lab tests like complete blood count and X-ray. The reason? COVID-19 is a respiratory pathogen, and the most prominent symptom is pneumonia, which doctors can detect via X-ray. Other infections can be seen in the blood test. (Click here to learn more.)
What happens if I go on labor without taking a swab test?
Dr. Maynila stresses that hospitals will still admit pregnant mothers even without a swab test or the results of their swab test. “It doesn’t mean na kapag hindi ka na-swab test, hindi ka na i-a-admit sa ospital kung manganganak ka na. Siyempre, hindi naman natin pwedeng sabihin kay baby na ‘wait lang, huwag ka munang lumabas ngayon.’ Kaya lang, ‘yung downside, you will be placed in an area na ang tawag, unknown status ka. Naka-isolate ka,” she says.
“Kung unknown ang status mo, we want to protect the newborn for possible infection — yung horizontal infection — so, nase-separate muna (mother and baby) until proven na pareho kayong negative.”
Giving birth during a pandemic may be tough, costly, and scary, but Dr. Domingo reassures the moms that they will be well-taken care of, especially their baby. What’s important is that you trust your doctors and are able to coordinate with them so they can properly assess the best time for you to take your swab test.
If you're pregnant and have questions on pregnancy and childbirth during the pandemic, you can watch the third episode of our How Po? live webinars by clicking here.
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