BENGALURU: With winter here and uncertainty about the Covid situation, there is a lot of anxiety surrounding care for pregnant women. Influenza, common cold and other respiratory viruses also may be prevalent and cause confusion. Although a zero risk of infection cannot be guaranteed, here we suggest some tips for pregnant women to sail smoothly through winter. Although the climate varies with the geographical location of the pregnant women, there are some common precautions that can and should be taken by them.
Staying warm indoors, drinking plenty of water, and getting some regular exercise are some general recommendations. In the current Covid situation, it would be prudent to be extra cautious with the precautions against the novel coronavirus. Hence, rules such as regular hand washing, maintaining respiratory hygiene and social distancing and avoiding any group activities or functions will have to go up one level.
A balanced nutritious diet in the winter months certainly plays a role in improving health, immunity and mood. Greens, ginger, gooseberry, garlic, dry fruits like almonds etc. have various vitamins and minerals that help boost immunity and repair. Avoiding fizzy drinks, coffee and tea and instead opt for fresh fruit or juice and soups. Certain supplements would help boost immunity. Hence, the healthcare provider/ obstetrician may be consulted for addition of Vitamin C and Vitamin D (the latter if levels are low) to your medications list.
Personal hygiene must include a good regular skin care routine by frequently applying soothing oils and natural moisturisers. Dry, flaky, itchy skin can be common both due to the dry cold weather as well as the stretching skin marks especially around the abdomen, thighs and breasts. Regular moisturisation with unscented natural products will provide that well-needed relief. Salon services though not completely prohibited, should be more natural products-based.
Wearing appropriately warm clothes for the weather and keeping feet warm would is advised. Warm showers and foot baths can be considered to soothe aches and pains and improve circulation. Regular checks with the obstetrician must continue depending on the schedule planned by the doctor. If the pregnancy is progressing normally, the frequency of direct visits may reduce. Online consultations from the comfort and warmth of the home, alternating with direct checks certainly have a lot of advantages in terms of reducing risk of Covid infection and commute-related pollution and stress.
However, if the pregnancy needs closer supervision and surveillance, hospital or clinic visits must continue. Ultrasound scans, blood tests and doctor appointments must ideally be clubbed together to avoid too many visits to the healthcare centre.
Other than the immunisation against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, a vaccination against seasonal flu/ influenza is recommended. In the current Covid, the flu shot becomes all the more important. This helps in two ways. One being avoiding any flu symptoms leading to anxiety about Covid and other, to reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Although the symptoms of flu and Covid are similar, the presence of one of these symptoms may point towards to Covid:
- High temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to their sense of smell or taste
If these symptoms occur, it would be recommended to contact your healthcare provider within 24 hours and get the Covid test done in order to initiate the appropriate and timely treatment. Since many are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, home isolation and care may continue.
Hence, although there are apprehensions regarding the approaching winter, a little care and plenty of common sense will help most pregnant women sail through the season with ease and comfort. As William Blake said, ‘In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.’
(The writer is senior obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road)