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The onset of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and the resultant state of lockdown enforced by the government have had an unprecedented impact on pregnant women. It also has deprived them of the experiences that they otherwise would have enjoyed. The immediate effect of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown was the spread of multidimensional fear in the minds of soon-to-be mothers regarding the safety of their foetuses and the progression of their pregnancy.
The transition to the prenatal phase in a lockdown environment can be difficult. Pregnant women have been deemed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists owing to their vulnerability to the grave effects of COVID-19. Here are some of the things that you have to keep in mind if you are pregnant during lockdown to ensure a smooth and safe pregnancy.
1. Social Distancing
One cannot emphasise the importance of social distancing enough. As a pregnant woman, you should religiously follow measures of social distancing and precautionary practices to ensure the safety of you and the baby you are carrying. Some of the steps that you ought to follow are listed below.
- Remain in your place of residence as much as possible and wash your hands frequently with soap.
- If you are working, try to do work from home to discourage contact with other people.
- Wear two masks if you have to go outside for emergencies like making your doctor’s appointment and avoid touching anyone or anything. Make sure that you don’t touch your face or nose and immediately disinfect yourself once you return home. Carry alcohol-based sanitisers with you.
- If you have children or family members who have been outside, maintain minimal contact with them during the course of your pregnancy. Ensure that they have taken appropriate safety measures before you come in contact with them.
2. Manage anxiety
Carrying a baby while being stuck in a small space without the freedom to go outside can increase your anxiety about your pregnancy. This, if ignored, might result in depression, sleep deprivation, increase in adrenaline and elevate your risk of premature delivery, preeclampsia, and heart diseases amongst other impacts. Prenatal stress can also have a long-term effect. Hence it is important to engage in routines that will alleviate your stress levels to help you manage your anxiety during your lockdown pregnancy. Some of the activities that can help you in this include yoga, breathing exercises, practising mindfulness and Zumba.
3. Take care of yourself
You must dedicate some time to take care of yourself. Indulge in your favourite activities within the comfort of your home. You can do puzzles, give yourself a makeover, paint, sing, cook a lovely meal for yourself, revisit your favourite books and movies, or learn a new instrument. Love yourself and engage in things that make you happy.
4. Stay active and adopt healthy eating practices
The lockdown has reduced the amount of exercise that one gets. As a pregnant woman, you must ensure that you follow a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that will nourish you and your foetus. You must also exercise daily despite the limitations posed by the lockdown. There are different types of exercises for pregnant women that can be learned online. You can also join virtual pregnancy support groups that will help you be consistent with such routines.
5. Nurture your mental health
During this stressful time, your mental health might take a turn for the worse. Never feel embarrassed to seek help when you need it. Make virtual appointments with your therapist - there are online resources that can guide you to a compatible therapist if you don’t already have one. Therapy, especially during the time of lockdown, has proven to be helpful for pregnant women who are consumed by the fear and uncertainty triggered by the pandemic. Also, keep in touch with your family and friends - the isolation brought by the pandemic can be overcome by calling and connecting with the people you love.
6. Curb your social media intake and news updates
While social media has the power to entertain you, it can also be the cause for anxiety attacks and panic owing to the bombardment of dynamic content. Allot a specific screen time for social media each day and staunchly follow it. Constant news updates and too much information about the pandemic will fuel your anxiety, driving you into a vicious circle of information hunting. To be up to date, rely on daily news segments or ask your friends and family to give you a concise account of each day’s relevant updates. Keeping a distance from social media will help you become more mindful about your pregnancy and give you time to focus on yourself.
7. Vitamin D
It has been found that Vitamin D reduces the possibility of respiratory diseases in pregnant women. Though it is difficult to bask under the sun in public places during the lockdown period, try to expose yourself to sunlight for at least fifteen minutes a day. You can go to your terrace or balcony or even for a walk once in a while to get your daily dose of sunlight. Just remember to follow the measures of social distancing.
8. Plan your delivery
Pregnancy during lockdown opens the possibilities for unexpected difficulties. Hence you could make your journey easier by planning the nuances of delivering your baby well in advance. Talk to your Ob-Gyn regarding the protocol for delivery if you are infected with COVID-19. Decisions on infant-mother separation, choice of feeding, hospitalization and other factors must be made before your due date so that you are not under pressure at the last moment. Anticipate difficulties and prepare for them in advance.
You can ensure a peaceful, healthy and happy pregnancy during lockdown if you follow these measures. Remember to enjoy this experience despite the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic and don’t forget to take a lot of pictures to visually capture your pregnancy journey.