Early pregnancy and the Coronavirus

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This is a really stressful time for many newly pregnant women, especially those who been trying to conceive for some time, have had miscarriages or gone through IVF treatment. The bottom line is that this virus is so new to us that we don’t know everything about it yet but are guided by what the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology advise for pregnant women. What we do know is that a woman’s immune system in early pregnancy changes to be able to accommodate implantation. It’s incredibly hard for women to self isolate, especially if they’ve got toddlers and like most women who have gone through huge journeys to get where they are they already anxious and looking for every single sign that something is about to go wrong.


So what can you do to protect yourself?

1. You need to get your anxiety under control. I often see women who are newly pregnant with IVF and they are happy for the first five minutes of finding out, then anxiety kicks in  big time. I often say, and it may sound harsh, but you can’t afford to be this anxious for 9 months! Anxiety releases stress hormones which deplete the body of vital nutrients and stores of these nutrients which you need for your developing baby. Remember, you do have control over your mindset so you have to implement techniques and strategies that are going to help you and also support your immune and nervous system to counteract stress hormones. Breathing, meditation and visualisation will all help to evoke the relaxation response if you practice for 20 minutes a day.

Connecting with your baby through visualisation is also so important as many women don’t want to connect in early pregnancy because of the disappointments they’ve had in the past. There are many apps available and I will also be getting my act together to do some online visualisations in the coming weeks, keep an eye on @zita.west on Instagram to be kept up to date.
2. Nutrition. For so many of the women I see they have done everything in terms of preparation, nutrients and supplements to get pregnant, and before this many have been dieting and controlling what they eat, but once they’re pregnant they start craving carbs and feeling that this is bad. This is absolutely fine, your body is telling you that you need energy so don’t fight it. Of course there are good and bad carbs to eat, you still need to be sensible but if you’re fighting nausea and tiredness as well you may not be able to stomach anything other than beige foods! Go with it, your baby will take everything it needs from your nutritional  reserves to flourish and you just need to do what you can to get through.
3. Supplementation to support your immune system. I don’t believe we can get everything from diet alone in the world we live in, so key nutrients or supplements you need to support you and your baby are:
  •  Vitamin D. This is the workhorse of the immune system and is low in many women we see at the clinic important to help maintain a healthy the normal functioning of the immune system
  •  Folate is a powerful B vitamin and is essential during the rapid growth and cell division of the first trimester. The Department of Health recommends that all pregnant women supplement their diets with Folate during the first trimester of pregnancy
  •  Omega 3 is an important element in the development of healthy cell membranes and body tissue during pregnancy and DHA in particular, plays a critical role in the development of a baby’s brain during pregnancy and early infancy. Your baby relies entirely on you for this so it is important to build up your stores
  • – Choline is an essential nutrient required by the body to make important compounds necessary for healthy cell membranes. Demand for choline during pregnancy is very high due to its transfer from the mother to the foetus.
4. Sleep. This can be hard to come by in pregnancy, especially if you already have children, but try to sleep as much as you can and go with your body. If you can’t nap in the day then make sure you have early nights in these first few weeks – make the most of social distancing here!

5. Finally, keep up the hope and belief. It may have been on a really tough journey to get to where you are today, and of course, anything can happen but it’s important to focus on the positive do all the things we are being told to do by Public Health England to ensure we can get out of the other side of this pandemic as quickly as possible.

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