Bonitas Medical Fund believes that as an expecting mom your pregnancy should be a unique and joyful experience. Through targeted support during each trimester, pregnancy education and specific related engagements – via telephone and digital channels – we aim to help you achieve this. With the new Maternity Programme we hope to improve the health of moms-to-be and, as a result, reduce possible complications.
‘Ahead of us telling you more about the Maternity Programme we like to answer some questions that have been asked on our 24/7 maternity help line around COVID-19 and pregnancy,’ says Lee Callkoppen, Principal Officer
What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that due to changes in the body and immune system, pregnant women can be affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that you take precautions to protect yourself against COVID-19 and report possible symptoms (including fever, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of smell) to your healthcare provider.
If you are pregnant please make sure you follow all the guidelines set out by the Government: Stay home, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and wear a face mask when you leave your home. The recommendation is also to boost your immune system by taking a daily dose of Vitamin C (around 1000mg) and zinc (8-10mg).
WHO recommends that pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 should be prioritised for testing. If they have COVID-19, they may need specialised care.
What effect will COVID-19 have on my baby if I am diagnosed with the infection?
According to WHO, we are still not completely certain whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk. However, unfortunately there have been some reports of mothers’ transmitting COVID-19 to their babies.
Will COVID-19 impact me breastfeeding my baby?
Again, according to WHO, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in breastmilk and transmission through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date. There is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding. Breastfeeding unquestionably reduces mortality in newborns and infants and provides numerous lifelong health and brain development advantages to the child.
Mothers with symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to wear a medical mask at all times, but even if this is not possible, breastfeeding should be continued. Mothers should follow other infection prevention measures, such as washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, sneezing or coughing into a tissue that is discarded immediately.
How do I register my baby after giving birth?
‘As we move into Stage 4 of lockdown the Department of Home Affairs will re-open although with limited hours of operation,’ says Callakoppen. ‘However, Bonitas will still accept a hospital certificate as proof of your baby’s birth. Alternatively members can register their new baby with Bonitas telephonically.’
Bonitas will require a certified copy of the birth certificate once lockdown has been lifted. This can be emailed through. Bonitas members need to register their baby within 30 days from the date of birth to ensure there is no break in cover.
The first of the COVID-19 Q&A video is available online: http://bonmaternityprogramme.co.za/antenatal-classes/
What does the new Maternity Programme offer pregnant women?
24/7 Maternity Health Advice Line
Should you have any health-related queries during your pregnancy, you can call the 24/7 Maternity Health Advice line on 087 056 9888. This telephone service is nurse led and has been developed to provide our pregnant members with optimum advice. It is a purely medical advice line, no diagnosis or prescription will be given.
Dedicated Clinical Care Advisors
A maternity nurse/midwife will call you at certain key stages throughout your pregnancy. This is to support and advise you on how to look after your health while expecting. You will be reminded about supplementation, diet and follow-up visits.
Online Antenatal Classes
From the moment you register with the Bonitas Maternity Programme, you’ll have access to online antenatal classes to prepare you for the birth, your stay in hospital and what to expect when you go home. These classes will be available twice monthly.
Weekly Stage Appropriate SMS
During your pregnancy, you’ll receive a weekly SMS appropriate to the specific stage in your pregnancy. This will help you track your baby’s development and learn how and why your body is changing during the weeks of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Education Emails
You’ll also receive emails on a weekly basis for the duration of your pregnancy to help you prepare for the birth. These emails will be stage appropriate and cover topics such as preparing for childbirth, normal delivery vs caesarean, breast care, breast feeding, nutrition, etc.
Bonitas Baby Bag
All pregnant members receive a beautiful baby bag packed with goodies for you and your newborn. To register for your baby bag, you must be at least 24 weeks pregnant and have obtained pre-authorisation for your delivery.
Twice a month there will be digital webinars that will cover various aspects of maternity and baby care. Once you have registered for the Maternity Programme, you will be informed via email or SMS about the details of the webinars. You’ll be able to access the webinars through a link from the Bonitas website.
On the Bonitas website, you’ll be able to find a series of articles regarding common health issues during pregnancy. You can read these articles at your own time and convenience.
Maternity Care Benefits
Bonitas also offer the following maternity benefits* to members:
- Up to 12 consultations during pregnancy
- 2 x 2D ultrasound scans
- 1 amniocentesis
- Antenatal Classes
- 4 consultations with a midwife after delivery (1 of these can be with a lactation specialist)
- New born hearing screening
*Plan dependent (Excludes BonCap)
As a mom-to-be you’ll have access to the Bonitas voucher platform to redeem vouchers (specific to baby care) from our partners.
‘Bringing a child into the world is a wonderful experience,’ says Callakoppen, ‘but it can also be daunting – especially during this Covid-19 pandemic, which is why we are here, 24/7 to help mom and dads-to-be to get through the pregnancy and birth with the minimum of fuss and the maximum support.’