Pregnancy, Covid 19 and Mental Health

The world is facing a challenge with the pandemic. Anyone listening to, or reading the news, and more so pregnant women, can feel very anxious about the changes this current situation is bringing in their lives. 
Pregnancy is generally both an exciting and uncertain time for any woman.  Normal worries during pregnancy can lead to some degree of anxiety and depression.  This pandemic has added a further layer of uncertainty by bringing changes to pregnancy celebrations, birthing plans, and support during birth and post-delivery.
To cope with these changes, understanding, accepting, adapting, and preparing for this can reduce stress and anxiety.   The important thing is being able navigate through the changes and cope by keeping physical and mental health intact
Here are some tips to practice – 
Physical distancing while pregnant
It’s a great time to connect with yourself and the baby by observing the changes happening in the body and also in the womb (fetal movements).
Regular exercise or yoga that suit you and your pregnancy is an endorphin booster.
Listening to music and meditating also will help reduce anxiety.
This can be a time to engage a hobby you always wanted to try.  Or you might reconnect with a hobby you had in the past, or continue with a hobby that makes you feel joyful and allows you to be in the present.
Keep regular communication with your loved ones, family, and friends through phone and video calls.
Emphasis on diet and sleep can go a long way in keeping up your mood and immunity.
Focus on having a healthy balanced diet and adequate sleep to maintain both physical and mental health. Do limit the visitors at home, maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet with any visitors in your home.
Work with your obstetrician for an individualized plan on the antenatal visits that may include virtual consultations. Make sure you ask your doctor on how to protect yourself while visiting the hospital for ultrasound scan.

Nearing the due date
Talk to your doctor and or midwife regarding your birthing plan and what changes you need to anticipate because of the pandemic. Some hospitals are allowing only one person for support during the normal delivery to protect hospital staff, pregnant women, and the newborn from the risk of getting Covid-19. Be prepared to know whom you want to take if the hospital allows only one person during the delivery.
You can also discuss home delivery with the doctor and midwife if that is an option for you to consider. 
Unlike normal times, you may need to limit the visitors for your baby at home too. Remember, this could be a very good bonding time with your newborn baby. 

When to self-isolate during pregnancy
If one has symptoms of COVID-19, call up the health care helpline. Usually, health professionals advise self-isolation if your symptoms are mild. With high temperatures and breathing difficulty, hospitalization may be needed. 
Share your thoughts with others – If you are worried, anxious or sad during this time, do confide or share with your loved ones, family, or partner. While you are required to distance physically, it is important to keep connected and sharing your thoughts and emotions. Hence be actively in touch with family and friends through phone calls and other social media.
Give yourself some time to relax, read, and unwind apart from keeping yourself updated on news and the changes that matter to you.
Get connected with other pregnant women through phone or video calls organized by your hospital; which can alleviate anxiety and fear and also you may find how others are coping in this scenario.
At any point, if you feel overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, loneliness, and depression, do contact your doctor or midwife for appropriate help. Remember you are not alone in this, you can get help and support when needed. This too shall pass.