Guest article by Dr Ellie Rayner, a practicing NHS Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
If you are currently pregnant you are probably hearing lots about COVID-19 and wondering what the pandemic means for you and your pregnancy and how you can remain healthy and well during this time. Here I have covered my 7 top tips for keeping you and your baby safe throughout lockdown.
- Attend all your scans and appointments – Antenatal and Postnatal care is still vitally important and during your pregnancy you will have regular check-ups with your midwife. Some women who may have been identified as at higher risk of complications, such as developing pregnancy diabetes, may also be given additional appointments for tests or scans at their local maternity unit. It is extremely important you attend any appointment you have been given. Extra precautions will have been put into place to ensure they keep both you and your baby safe, as well as the staff working within the maternity unit.
- Pay particular attention to social distancing – If you are pregnant, you should follow the latest guidance on staying alert and safe using social distancing, appropriate use of face coverings and avoiding anyone who has symptoms suggestive of coronavirus. As a precaution, pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) of COVID-19 as pregnant women can sometimes be at more risk of viruses like flu. This is particularly important if you are in your third trimester, which is more than 28 weeks pregnant.
- Take Folic Acid and a Vitamin D a supplement – Folic acid supplementation taken before and during early pregnancy reduces the risk of a problem with your baby’s development. It is recommended that you take 400micrograms of folic acid every day from ideally 2-3 months before pregnancy until you are 12 weeks’ gestation. All pregnant and breastfeeding women are also recommended to take 10 micrograms of Vitamin D every day to help keep your bones and muscles healthy and you should consider taking a supplement for this.
- Get your free Flu vaccine – Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) strongly recommend the flu vaccine to all pregnant women, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is possible to get infected with both infections at the same time and this could cause a more serious illness.
- Stay active and exercise – Exercising regularly during pregnancy is important for your health. It can give you more energy, improve your mood and sleep and can help reduce your risk of developing raised blood pressure or pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes). During lockdown, some of your usual fitness classes or activities may be cancelled or limited, but it is important to try and maintain a similar level of exercise to previously. Walking, jogging, at home aerobics or pregnancy yoga are all safe and there are many classes available online both live or to stream so there are lots of options available to you.
- Reduce your chance of a blood clots – During pregnancy, you are at higher risk of developing a blood clot than a non-pregnant person and in light of the current pandemic and particularly during lockdown, you are likely to be staying insider more or not as active as you usually might be. If this is the case, keep as mobile as you can and make sure to drink plenty of water to reduce your risk.
- Get help promptly if worried about you or your baby – Maternity services in the UK are available 24/7, even throughout the pandemic and lockdown. Regardless of whether you are symptomatic of coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding, it is really important that if you do have any concerns about yours or your baby’s wellbeing, such as pain, bleeding, suspect your waters have broken or not feeling your baby move as much as normal that you speak to your midwife or doctor straight away. Please be reassured that all maternity services and staff are committed to providing safe and effective maternity care throughout the pandemic and lockdown are here for you day and night should you have any questions or concerns.
If you do need any further information about current recommendations and advice regarding pregnancy and COVID-19, please see the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.
Dr Ellie Rayner is a practicing NHS Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Antenatal and Hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Maternity Collective. The Maternity Collective provide comprehensive online antenatal and birth preparation courses led by a team of NHS expert healthcare professionals. More information is available at https://www.thematernitycollective.co.uk/
Follow Dr Ellie Rayner @maternitymedic for the latest evidence-based information on pregnancy, birth and women’s health issues.