By : Sheryl Salis (Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator)

Managing Pregnancy During Lockdown

Lockdown or COVID-19 quarantine is imposed in several countries including India. During the lockdown, people are staying home and maintaining physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While everyone needs to take care to prevent getting infected, women who are pregnant need to take utmost care as pregnancy weakens the immune system.

Pregnant woman with co-morbid conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension have an even more compromised immune system and are more prone to catching the infection. Apart from a weak immune system there are many hormonal changes which affect pregnant women mentally and physically, which may increase during the lockdown period.

Due to less availability of food, people end up eating un-healthy and whatever is available at home therefore making wise choices is very important as an unhealthy eating pattern can be detrimental for the health of the mother and the baby.

Guidelines for pregnant women during lockdown:

•   Eat slowly in a comfortable and relaxed environment. Maintain meal timings and eat at frequent intervals.

•   Do not overeat or under eat. Try and have foods which are easy to make and easy to digest to avoid feeling bloated.

•   Try and have a balanced, wholesome meal comprised of all the food groups like cereals, pulses, dairy, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.

•   Special emphasis must be on protein as it is a very important macronutrient playing a vital role in building a strong immune system and in the growth and development of the baby. Include good protein quality foods like egg, fish, chicken, pulses, soya granules, legumes, nuts, milk and milk product in your diet.

•   DHA and Taurine are important nutrients in pregnancy for the growth and development of the baby. DHA is important for the development of the brain of the foetus whereas Taurine is essential for physical and mental growth of the baby.

•   Your doctor may prescribe a protein supplement to help you meet your protein requirements. Look for a protein supplement which contains whey, taurine and DHA which is specific for pregnancy.

•   Iron requirement increases during pregnancy as iron helps a growing baby receive the amount of oxygen needed to develop a strong heart, lungs and muscles. Iron deficiency in the expecting mother can cause fatigue and anaemia. Sources include bajra, masoor dal (lentil dal), red amaranth leaves, drumstick leaves, dill leaves, soya granules and chunks, cowpea leaves, rajma, radish leaves, buckwheat, roasted chana, horse gram. Absorption of iron can be enhanced by consuming iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods (e.g. lemon, amla, guava, citrus fruits).

•   Vitamin C rich foods like amla, guava, oranges, sweet lime helps to build immunity and is also important for the absorption of iron in the body.

•   Omega 3 is required for visual and brain development of foetus. Incorporate walnuts and chia seeds in your diet as fatty fish rich in omega 3 like salmon, sardine may not be available during the lockdown period.

•   Include healthier snacks for munching like roasted chana, boiled chana or moong chat with veggies, hummus with salad sticks, unsalted nuts, plain yoghurt, protein biscuits (diskettes).

•   Restrict excess intake of caffeine containing food & beverages like tea, coffee, chocolates, energy drinks and colas. Two cups of either mild tea or mild coffee is allowed. However, it should not be taken with meals as it hinders iron absorption.

•   Restrict the consumption of processed food (ketchup, ready to eat soups, etc,) bakery products (biscuits and breads), papads, pickles and canned foods.

•   Ensure to get adequate sleep and rest.

•   Do not sit in one place for too long. Stay active and keep moving (unless advised against doing so by your doctor).

•   Practice deep breathing and meditation, yoga to relax your mind and body.

•   Listen to some good soothing music which will keep you relaxed and your baby happy.

•   Be in touch with loved ones and family virtually to feel happy and comfortable.

•   Do not fall prey to WhatsApp forwards, social media news which may be inaccurate and cause stress and anxiety.

•   Maintain good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

Eating a balanced diet, being physically active, maintaining physical distancing and a positive outlook towards life will help you boost immunity during quarantine and will safeguard you and your baby from Coronavirus.

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