For women, pregnancy and childbirth is a major life-changing event with its own challenges, bundles of emotions and preparations. Similarly, coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic are also equal life-changing tectonic events across the globe touching every human life and the ways of functioning. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a global health crisis and having a devastating effect on everyone, also on pregnant women. Globally different countries are implementing various measures to slow the spread of the virus by isolation, quarantine, physical distancing (social distancing is a misnomer), early identification of infections and contact tracing, etc.
Measures to maintain mental health for pregnant women during a pandemic
Be realistic: With more and more digital connectedness, opinions, choices, and expectations are shaped constantly by the social media platforms besides the family and friends. It is important to embrace the basic truth that pregnancy can be challenging, looking after the baby can be hard, and be prepared to be led by what are the needs of the mother and baby and existing resources available than a pre-existing plan.
Acknowledge distress: It is important for pregnant women to prepare for parenthood by reading about the need for maintaining mental health during the lockdown, the risk factors associated with it, the ways of identifying the distress and seeking help. There are many online platforms, blogs that provide authentic information about mental health during pregnancy
Limit the exposure to COVID-19 related news: It is natural to constantly seek more and more information during crises, but this would only further add to the underlying anxiety and fear of infection. Also, a lot of fake news keeps circulating resulting in the dissemination of false information. Try to seek COVID-19 updates periodically from authenticated websites, news portals, and government announcements and limit any conversations related to it with your peers and family.
Maintain physical and psychological hygiene: Personal hygiene by frequent handwashing with soap and water, respiratory hygiene by coughing into your elbow or into a tissue and disposing of it properly, cleanliness in vicinities at home, practicing regular sleep routine and healthy and nutritious eating.
Practice mindfulness: It is natural for couples to be concerned about bringing a baby into a pandemic thus increasing stress and uncertainty. Try to focus on the current moment than yesterday or tomorrow. Build your problem-solving approaches on variables that you can control at the current moment than others.
Practice physical distancing, not emotional distancing: Be it during the lockdown, or the period following it, the pregnant women might need to maintain the physical distance and limit the social exposure due to the nature of virus infection which is widespread and lack definitive treatment. Try to practice physical distancing but build a strong support system being indoors by connecting with your family and friends through digital platforms and fulfilling your emotional needs
Build a routine: It is important to build a healthy routine with physical activity, yoga, and meditation sessions. These sessions even during a pandemic can be incorporated as part of your routine as several platforms are conducting live sessions and enrolling into it would build a sense a collectiveness, create interest in the activities, and most importantly allays any symptoms of anxiety.
Preschedule appointments and limit hospital visitations: It is suitable to consult your gynecologist for regular scans and ante-natal check-ups with prescheduled appointments and confirmations and limiting the exposure to hospital premises. It is preferable to use teleconsultations services for any other purposes.
Me-Time Activities: It is very important to have personal space invested in relaxing oneself by activities such as music, reading, or anything of choice.
Talk to someone: If you are having any disturbing thoughts, worries, or concerns, try to communicate with your partner, family member, or friend. If you are finding any difficulty, try to discuss your thoughts, and be honest with them. If there are any difficulties to discuss, you might request them to help you find any helpline or professional consultation.
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