With rise of more than 3lakh COVID positive cases in a day, the pandemic is increasing manifolds steadily. Though every age group is affected by Coronavirus, however, pregnant women, elderly people (above 65years), kids and people with severe health problems are at major risk. Pregnancy and COVID-19 both are critical time. So, one should follow all the necessary guidelines to protect themselves & unborn baby.
Pregnancy could be stressful during the normal circumstances itself; however, having one during a pandemic, can increase the anxiety level exponentially. During pregnancy, several changes in the body affect the immune system of the would-be mother. Thus, pregnant women are more vulnerable to viral infection, and the morbidity increases even with seasonal flu. This is the primary reason why pregnant women have to be extra careful during the ongoing COVID-19. It goes without saying that pregnant women should take care of their hygiene and avoid exposure to public areas, including hospitals. In this blog, we have addressed all the challenges, risks, safety measures, diet and more that are related to pregnancy and COVID-19.
Coronavirus and Pregnancy: What are the Challenges involved?
During pregnancy, women witness an outburst of emotions, which could lead to panic, especially during COVID-19. With news blaring- increase in the cases of COVID positive patients day by day and all the discussions around COVID can really be toxic during pregnancy. This could further lead to anxiety, frequent tension of contracting the virus and depression. Every pregnancy is different, and likewise, the phases could be different for every woman.
Challenges Involved During Pregnancy and COVID-19
- Unavailability of Doctor in Person: Pregnancy calls for regular check-ups; however, with a spike in COVID cases, doctor/gynaecologists prefer to limit their meeting with pregnant women, which is yet another reason of concern, especially during the first and third trimester when the pregnant women have to go for scans, diagnostic tests every or the other day. What if something goes unchecked! Most of the doctors are attending their patience via Zoom call, which is obviously not satisfying. Though it is an ideal step as it averts any type of complications related to the virus. However, this does not help in the detailed check-up, and at times, many of the queries’ of pregnant women are left unaddressed.
- Mental Health Goes on Toss: From morning sickness to bladder and bowel problem, a woman’s body goes through a number of changes during pregnancy. And, adding COVID sacre to it can really put anyone in dilemma. The only way to deal with this difficult situation is to stay strong and positive.
- Restricted Outdoor trips: This too might add to the mental health of a pregnant woman as she has to perpetually stay at home or indoors because going outdoors means inviting the virus. This could be frustrating and lead to anxiety at times as one is bound in the home and could not meet others.
- Lack of Access to Essentials: Last year, when the entire country went under Lockdown, pregnant women were affected more as they had no aid. Since all the shops were closed, many could not even collect all the stuff that they needed after the delivery that includes their baby’s new clothes, diapers, bottles etc. Thankfully same is not the case now. But one has to be prepared in well advanced with all the essentials as many states like Delhi and Rajasthan have already announced Lockdown for a couple of weeks.
- Delay in Delivery: This is one of the major concerns of pregnant women. Due to shortage of medical staff and lack of operation theatres and medical equipment, there is a huge possibility that the delivery is postponed.
- Non Availability of Maternal Services: One of the main challenges that pregnant women living in remote or metropolitan areas facing is the lack of ambulance. They do not get the medical aid as instant they are supposed to get.
Safety Measures to be taken during Pregnancy and COVID-19
As they say, precaution is better than cure. Thus, there are few safety measures which person especially pregnant women should take during pregnancy and Covid-19.
- Stay at home if and keep yourself busy with creative chores.
- If it’s possible avoid meeting with unknown people. If you have to meet them make sure, you maintain an idea social distance
- Collect all the essentials that you would need during and after the delivery. Some of the things that you must have are – masks, hand sanitizers, Oximeter, BP machine, Glucomter, basic clothes for yourself and baby and diaper.
- Always keep your doctor’s number on speed dial as you may require his/her help anytime during the course of pregnancy.
- Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based sanitiser. Before using any of the hand sanitizer, do ask your doctor as every sanitizer might not suit you and may lead to nausea and other problems.
- In case you have any of the symptoms like fever, difficulty in breathing, cough, cold, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
- Expecting mothers should monitor their blood pressure and oxygen level regularly.
Diet of Pregnant Women during COVID-19
As said before, every pregnancy is different, and every woman requires different diet and care. We are sharing the widely adopted food habits and nutrient meals, though it is wise to connect with your doctor as well and discuss related queries.
There are certain foods that are extremely good for pregnant women; you can include them in your diet. The nutrition recommendation of every pregnant woman remains the same.
- Must include three primary meals with 1-2 nutritional snacks.
- Do add seasonal fruits to your diet. Avoid consuming pineapple and papaya as it can affect the growth of the foetus.
- Do add dry fruits to your diet.
- Most women suffer from anaemia during pregnancy, to avoid this consult your doctor and consume food rich in iron and folic acid.
- Add immune boosters like citrus fruits, haldi, honey and ginger to your diet. This would help to strengthen the immune system.
- In addition to this, consult your doctor to know the correct dose of multi-vitamins.
- Stay away from people who aren’t well as the disease can be contagious sometimes.
Exercises for Pregnant Women
Staying at home and restricting physical activities is definitely not a good idea during pregnancy and COVID-19. While you should not move outside but that does not mean that you will not pay attention to your body. There are few exercises that all pregnant women can perform. However, it is always good to consult your doctor in order to prevent any complications. Following are easy to do exercises at home.
This exercise would help you to prepare for delivery and labour. It is also suitable for pelvic health. This exercise can be performed when your bladder is empty.
- You can either sit or lie down
- Make sure your pelvic floor muscles are tight. Hold it in the same position for 3-5 seconds.
- Relax your muscles and repeat it.
2. Weight Training Exercise
Yes, pregnant women too can lift weights. Simple weight training exercises can be performed at home. It helps to build stamina and prevent pain in the lower back. Most importantly, it averts the chances of gaining weight.
3. Cat-Cow Pose
This is one of the classicyoga poses. It enhances mobility, strengthens the abdomen, lowers the back and further helps to adapt the ideal birth position.
- Start this exercise with the tabletop position, keep your wrist under the shoulders and knees should be under the hips. Your legs, knees, hip and feet should be wide apart.
- Keep your shoulders back and down and relax your neck as shown in the image.
- Make sure your head is in the centre.
- Gradually inhale and pull your chest towards the ceiling and the belly should sink with the floor.
- Then lift your chin and slightly curve your neck.
- Your shoulders should be away from the ears and gradually open your chest.
- Repeat it 5-8 times or as suggested by your doctor.
4. Relaxed Belly Breathing
This meditative exercise is bliss for pregnant women and her baby. It promotes oxygen and nutrients supply to the foetus. It would calm you down and helps to fight back anxiety.
- You can sit or lie.
- Put your one hand on the belly, below the ribs and put other hand on the chest.
- Take a deep breath through the nose and let the belly push your hand.
- Breathe in and out like you would whistle.
- Do this as suggested by your doctor.
COVID Symptoms that Calls for Doctor’s Help
You should immediately take help from your doctor if you have any of the COVID related symptoms:
- Trouble Breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny Nose
- Muscle Pain
- A Loss of Taste Or Smell
- Nausea or Vomiting
- All are only related to COVID
COVID-19 Vaccines during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
India has introduced two anti-COVID vaccines that are Covishield and Covaxin, and thankfully soon above 18 years, people can get Croronavirus jab by registering themselves at Cowin. However, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers must consult their gynaecologist/doctor before taking the jab.
During pregnancy, the women’s body goes through a number of changes that include physical and emotional, internal and psychological. And, during COVID, the problems can increase immensely. The only way to deal with this severe problem is to take good care of yourself, encourage a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly and above all, stay connected with your doctor. As soon as you witness any of the symptoms of Coronavirus, consult your doctor.
During pregnancy, the women’s body goes through a huge change, during which the immune system suppresses; because of this, pregnant women are at higher risk of getting the infection.
If the symptoms are mild, you would be isolated and given the best of treatment. However, if the symptoms are severe.
With the spike in the cases of COVID, pregnant women should get their test done if they witness any of the symptoms.
Pregnant women should consult their doctor before taking the COVID vaccine.
Though it is not proved that COVID-19 leads to premature birth, there have been many cases in which pregnant woman with COVID-19 have given birth prematurely.
Whether the pregnant women is affected with COVID or not, she should be provided with all the medical care that she requires during the course of pregnancy and delivery.
It is always wise to consult your doctor if you have any COVID related symptoms.
Yes, breastfeeding mothers with Coronavirus can hold, breastfeed their baby according to WHO; it does not transmit the virus to the baby. However, COVID positive mothers should wash their hands, wear a mask and take all the hygiene precautions while in contact with the newborn.