Childbirth is one of the most miraculous and precious events/ experiences in the lifetime of a female. However as already known by everyone, the female body undergoes a ton of changes during this process.
These changes are common and occur in every pregnant woman and can eventuate in varying degrees. Along with hormonal changes and changes in weight, etc. another very important alteration in a pregnant female body, that is not known or understood completely by many are the changes in immune system.
These changes in the immune system may be the grounds as to why pregnant women are considered more susceptible to the novel coronavirus than the rest in the community.
A fetus in the womb, to a mother is completely detached and hence acts like a foreign entity invading it therefore, so that the body does not attack the fetus and allows the complete development of the fetus inside the womb of the mother, the body represses its immune system.
In the first 12 – 15 weeks of pregnancy ( first trimester ), the immune system is more activated than usual; however, from the second trimester on, for the complete growth and development of fetal cells wherein some of these fetal cells have antigens from paternal origin, the female body suppresses its own immune system.
According the extremely recent studies conducted, women during pregnancy are potentially at higher risk to viral infections like malaria, influenza, coronavirus etc.
The declined immune system of the mother not only puts her at massive risk in contracting the virus but also the fetus in her womb making her liable to preterm labor ( entering into labor at 37 weeks or below with negligible chances of fetal survival ) that may leave deficits in the fetus which may even be permanent causing it to have underdeveloped organs or a week immune system in all.
Studies have also shown that pregnant woman who have tested positive for the virus at an early stage of pregnancy have had miscarriages and some others gave birth to infants with underdeveloped lungs that have been fatal in 32% of the cases.
Going into labor while having the coronavirus is a high risk for the mother as well, since the contractions and the course of labor itself puts tremendous amounts of strain on the mother and especially her lungs making delivery all the more difficult in such cases.
It’s not just the contraction of the virus that poses a threat to the mother and the fetus but also the anxiety, nervousness and fearfulness brought by the ongoing situation around the pandemic.
The anxiety and nervousness may also be a cause for distress putting the body in early labor which as mentioned earlier may cause fetal torment and severely alter growth and development thus reducing the infants chances of survival.
HOW TO COMBAT THE VIRUS?
- Start by consuming healthy diets with sufficient nutrition. A number of foods are said to help immune system fight the viruses better. Although, due to pregnancy a lot of foods may be restricted, several alternative sources are now available most of which are natural and cause no harm to the fetus or to the expecting mother. Eat junk food or foods that may further decline the immune system in limited amounts.
- Practice meditation. Try to keep a positive mindset and remain calm because anxiety and nervousness does no good to either the fetus or the mother. Read a book or two, breathe calmly and deeply and focus on what is important and good. While keeping stress and worry at the bay. Yoga may be one of the best form of exercises to practice during pregnancy.
- To better understand the effects of meditation on pregnancy, follow: meditating with a baby in the womb
- Take prenatal vitamins and supplements regularly. These supplements will not only help in a full term labor but also help the mother as well as the fetus in the womb get stronger by the day. Consider taking vitamin D capsules if you aren’t already as it helps strengthen the immune system.
- Engage yourself in activities ( considering normal pregnancy ). Keep yourself occupied in small everyday tasks that are not very tiring and strenuous. This will not only keep you on your feet, giving your body the exercise and movement it needs but also keep your mind away from worry.
- Follow social distancing norms strictly in public. Try to stay indoors as much as possible however whenever necessary, keep a safe distance ( 6 feet ), wash your hands thoroughly whenever possible, wear your mask at all times outdoor.
- Visit the obstetrics , gynecologist at regular intervals ( once in a month or two) for checkups. Visit the OB GYN immediately incase of any discomfort or irregularities.