Dr. Desislava Markova, Lead Fetal Medicine at the IVI Medical Center, Abu Dhabi.
It is every individual’s responsibility to take precautionary measures against Covid-19 in order not to strain the healthcare system. Pregnant women have the additional onus to take care of their unborn child, thus making them a sensitive group.
Dr. Desislava Markova, Lead Fetal Medicine at the IVI Medical Center, Abu Dhabi, says, “During Covid-19, pregnant women are more susceptible to catching flu, as pregnancy suppresses a person’s immune system. Besides, in the final trimester of pregnancy, the foetus and uterus can start suppressing other organs, including the lungs, due to which some part of the lungs work with reduced capability to circulate air, leaving the mum prone to infection. But with extra precautions taken, they can get through pregnancy with ease and with total protection to the unborn.”
Dr. Desislava recommends the following for mums-to-be…
Avoid mental stress
It is natural to experience anxiety and worry with so much happening around. However, pregnant women should only consume and read information necessary for them. All other information, which is not of value to the pregnancy, should be skipped. Excessive stress during pregnancy is associated with pre-term labour, pre-term delivery and can also negatively affect growth of the baby and can result in low birth weight babies.
It is recommended to watch favourite television shows and read to avoid negative thoughts. Keeping busy with home activities like cooking, gardening, decorating, or learning new skills also help. Regular mild to moderate exercises at home like yoga or simple walking helps ward off stress. Breathing exercises are recommended to improve lung capacity and further decrease stress.
Diligent follow-up with experts
Pregnant women should ensure that they have regular conversations with their doctors as most hospitals and clinics now offer the ease of tele-consultations as well as in-person consultations. This will help expectant mothers to voice their concerns and ensure the doctor is in total control of their pregnancy. It is suggested to keep the communication open with the doctor as they are trained to give the best care in these situations.
Get regular scans
Visit a clinic or hospital only if needed, however regular scans should not be missed. Most clinics like IVI Fertility and Fetal clinics are already taking extra precautions during in-person appointments; for example, if someone is coming in for an ultrasound, a routine prenatal check might be added to the same visit. In addition, strict measures and guidelines issued by the government have ensured that all healthcare facilities follow and adhere to hygiene and sanitisation standards to avoid any risks to patients.
Get enough rest and sleep
It is important for pregnant women to keep the body and mind fully energetic. To achieve this, they need to get enough sleep. It has been proven in many research articles that by getting enough sleep each day, the body’s immunity increases. And with heightened immunity, expectant mothers can easily avoid several pregnancy-related health problems. Besides, moments of rest are very important for the baby growing in the womb. Hence sleep should assume priority in an expectant mother’s health regime.
Ensure necessary precautions
With expectant mothers being particularly immuno-suppressed, it is recommended to follow stricter Covid guidelines.
— Practice social distancing: Completely avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus. Stay at home or stay at least 6 feet away from whoever you meet.
— Be extra careful about symptoms: If you have a cough, you are breathless or feel hot accompanied by shivers, call your doctor and seek help immediately.
— Do not assume or take the slightest of chances: If you are worried about your baby's movements or experience any discomfort that is untoward, it is best to seek medical advice.
— Create a private setting: Make a private space for you and your doctor (if applicable) during home visits. Make a note of all that you wish to discuss with your doctor, keep adding to these notes, for not only will it give your mind greater clarity, it will also help as a reference point.
— Sign up for prenatal classes: All typical activities like prenatal education and exercise classes, help you stay connected and supported throughout your pregnancy. It is a good idea to sign up for such online classes. Besides, meeting other expectant mums through such online sessions will automatically form a support group as well.
— Introduce healthy foods: Avail a healthy diet that comprises lots of fruit, green smoothies, Mediterranean diets and specific supplements and vitamins.While it could be challenging having to manage the pandemic on one hand and the foetus on the other, it is important to stay positive. On the bright side, if you are healthy, if your immunity levels are up to mark, you are at home and surrounded by your loved ones, a treat in store awaits you in the form of the bundle of joy due to arrive.
As a former military man, Matar Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and Director of the Emergency and Disaster Management Division, knows very well the importance of being prepared for a major battle.
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