How to cope with pregnancy in lockdown: health and relaxation tips from a gynaecologist

Advice for pregnant women during the coronavirus pandemic

We're all feeling uneasy at the moment as we adapt to this new life in lockdown, and these feelings are even more so for women expecting a baby right now. A woman's natural instinct is to protect her unborn child, but with so much talk of COVID-19 and the risk of contracting the virus, these maternal instincts are magnified for many mums-to-be. So how can women stay relaxed in pregnancy in such strange times, and how can they stay safe during midwife and hospital visits? Dr Shree Datta, a gynaecologist for women’s intimate healthcare brand Intimina, answered these common questions surrounding pregnancy in lockdown...

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Is it still ok to have my baby at hospital?

Dr Shree Datta says: "To reassure everyone, all birth units and labour wards are fully functioning and vigilant to any potential COVID cases. We are all ready to deliver your baby in a safe manner, appropriate to your needs. Our anaesthetists are on standby to administer epidurals and the theatre team are ready and fully kitted in case you need a Caesarean section. We may look a little different in PPE and you may not be able to hear what I'm saying as clearly, but your care won't be affected."

How can I stay safe at the doctors?

"A lot of doctors are offering virtual or online consultations, so it is worth checking with your local team as to what they are able to offer. If you do have to attend, many women are choosing to attend discrete stand-alone clinics rather than hospitals. You will often be screened before being allowed to enter the premises - things to watch for include a persistent new cough and a temperature. If you show symptoms of COVID, please call ahead to find out whether you can attend and if not, what you should do."

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Can I do antenatal classes at home in lockdown?

"It is worth speaking to your midwife or GP to find out what is in place locally. Also, do a search online, on YouTube and Instagram to find classes that work with you - in some cases, you can also opt for one-to-one virtual advice sessions. There are also Facebook groups and online forums aimed at pregnant women which may be helpful to you in your area. It's useful to look for what is available locally for when lockdown lifts as this is a great chance to build new relationships with other mums-to-be."

How can I relax while pregnant in lockdown?

"The activities that you enjoy at home on a regular basis are paramount - this can be anything from reading to watching your favourite TV programme, to cooking and getting creative. Why not try something that you have never done before? Make sure you speak regularly with friends and family and allocate some time for yourself each day to meditate or relax to music. Above all, try and establish a routine, which includes eating well and going to bed at regular times."

How can I stay active at home during my pregnancy?

"Firstly, it's important to stress that exercise in pregnancy is safe - in moderation! The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week throughout pregnancy. This can include jogging or Pilates, for example, but if you can't leave the house, there are plenty of exercises which count at home.

"If you don’t consider yourself to be very active, start gradually and work your way up to 150 minutes a week - remember every activity counts, usually in bursts of 10 minutes. This includes activities which strengthen muscles twice a week and whilst there is no evidence of harm by undertaking exercise, you must listen to your body and adjust your level and duration of activity or exercise accordingly.

"If you're not sure what type of exercise is appropriate for you, or if you have any medical conditions, speak to your midwife or doctor before going ahead."

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What are good pregnancy books to read in lockdown?

" provides an approved and definitive online guide to pregnancy and the first year of motherhood. There are also plenty of books to choose from - one that stands out is Pregnancy Milestones by Hannah Fox, which has been written with the help of a range of experts. Try not to get too drawn into individual comments on online forums - remember everyone's experience of pregnancy is unique and use the material you read to develop a core understanding of pregnancy and birth. Speak to your midwife and doctor if you have any queries."

Is it safe to conceive during the coronavirus pandemic?

"There is no national recommendation to stop trying to conceive and in fact, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have thus far not found any proven risks in early pregnancy. If you would prefer not to fall pregnant during this unique time, consider using contraception. There is little evidence on the impact of coronavirus in pregnancy at the moment. If you do fall pregnant, consult your doctor to see whether an early pregnancy scan is advisable.

"Remember that even if you do conceive now, your delivery will be in nine months, and we all can hope that the situation will have improved by then. However, this is a big decision and you will need to discuss it with your partner to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding whether you are comfortable to try and conceive. Remember to take your prenatal vitamins if you are trying to conceive."