As China joins the rest of the world in learning to co-exist with COVID, many of us living in China are left with questions and even fear. For pregnant women these concerns are understandably greater. In order to address some of these concerns, the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Jiahui shares some useful recommendations for all women finding themselves pregnant while at the same time having contracted COVID or having recently recovered from an infection. And remember, the best way to deal with COVID is prevention: wearing masks, hand washing and having your vaccinations up-to-date will go a long way!
Many pregnant women feel that they need to self-isolate to protect themselves and their babies from Covid-19. This is becoming more common as people are worried about new strains of the virus. However, it is important to remember that being infected with Covid-19 is manageable.
Additionally, there are other types of respiratory diseases that you may become infected with, particularly because we are currently in flu season. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women continue to take measures to protect themselves from illness.
In order to help your body recover as soon as possible and reduce the chance of reinfection, it is important for pregnant mothers to take care of themselves.
Maintain a healthy diet
After being infected with Covid-19, some pregnant women experience an abnormal taste in their mouth, a loss of appetite, and no desire to eat. Other pregnant women may over-eat, with a preference for spicy and heavy foods. However, it is important to maintain a balanced, diverse, and light diet, additionally, barbequed, and fried foods should be avoided.
Some of the elements to focus on include:
1. High-quality protein
This can include consuming 1 – 2 eggs, 300 – 500ml of milk, 200g of lean meat (fish can be consumed twice a week), and 25g of soybean products (i.e., tofu, soy milk, etc.) every day.
2. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, & dietary fiber
Eating more fresh, dark-colored vegetables and fruits can effectively supplement the intake of vitamins and other antioxidant nutrients. This can increase the functioning of the immune system.
Pregnancy-specific multivitamins can be taken orally to make up for dietary deficiencies. Zinc, selenium, and various other multivitamins help to maintain the function of the immune system. However, typically, there is a low rate of deficiency of these nutrients during pregnancy.
Recommended foods include dark-green, red, purple, and black foods, particularly foods such as seaweed, fungus, kelp, mushrooms, etc. Avoid eating fried, spicy, cold, high glycemic foods.
3. Maintain a healthy metabolism
Excessive intake of oil and salt increases blood viscosity. Therefore, daily salt intake should be limited to 5g (approximately half of the cap of a water bottle), oil intake should be limited to 25-30ml (approximately the size of a walnut), and fruit intake should be limited to 200-350g (approximately the size of a fist).
Foods that are high in sugar should be avoided. It is recommended to eat more coarse grains that are rich in dietary fiber, which can delay the absorption of glycolipids in the digestive tract, build good intestinal microbiota, and increase the body’s metabolic function.
Sleep & rest
After being infected with Covid-19, it is important to get enough sleep and rest. Staying up late not only reduces immunity but also affects the pregnancy. A lack of sleep can cause pregnant women to have low energy levels, and severe insomnia can lead to abnormalities in the immune system and even miscarriage. Therefore, a lack of sleep over a prolonged period is not good for the health of the mother or the baby.
1. Develop good sleeping habits
Don’t stay up too late and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day.
During the day, it is recommended that you take 30–60-minute naps. However, if you have difficulty falling asleep at night, either reduce the time spent napping during the day or stop having naps during the day.
2. Create a comfortable sleeping environment
Exercise during the day to assist with regulating emotional stability. Before going to bed, avoid strong coffee, tea, and caffeinated drinks and don’t drink too much water or eat too much food.
Do moderate exercise
Avoid strenuous exercise after being infected with Covid-19, as it takes time for the body to fully recover. It is recommended that pregnant women take walks for exercise. When the weather is good, it is recommended to walk outdoors and spend time in the sun to improve physical functions. Moderate exercise can also improve the functioning of the immune system.
When exercising during pregnancy, it is important to pay attention to exercise duration, intensity, and type.
1. Exercise duration
It is recommended to exercise for 20-45 minutes a day.
2. Exercise intensity
Chose moderate to low-intensity exercise, and avoid sports that may cause injuries. In order to determine the intensity of the exercise, wear a heart rate monitor while exercising – the heart rate range for moderate-intensity exercise is (220 – your age) x 60% and (220 – your age) x 70%. Your heart rate should remain within this range during moderate-intensity exercise.
It is important to select a type of exercise based on your doctor’s advice in order to prevent bleeding, cervical insufficiency, etc.
1. Have a correct understanding of Covid-19
It is important to remember that most pregnant women do not become seriously ill from Covid-19, however, steps should still be taken to reduce the risk of infection. The infection rate for pregnant women is similar to that of the general population. Additionally, if a pregnant woman gets infected with Covid-19, their symptoms will not be more severe than that of the general population.
2. Focus on being in the present
Try not to worry about the uncertainty of the future, and rather focus on what you can do in the present. Rather than focusing on the news, try to exercise regularly, eat healthily, and find hobbies to do at home.
3. Try to manage your emotions
Identify your personal ways to manage your emotions, such as listening to relaxing music and maintaining communication with friends and family.
Q&A for pregnant women after getting infected with Covid-19
Q: Can I take a shower or wash my hair after getting infected with Covid-19? Is there anything I should pay attention to?
A: It is recommended that pregnant mothers should slightly shorten the length of time they spend showering; try to avoid bathing; the water temperature should not be too high; if you feel tired, it is recommended to sit on a bench/chair while showering; after showering, it is important to keep yourself warm.
Q: Why do I still cough, even though I have recovered from Covid-19? How long will it take to fully recover?
A: In some cases, pregnant mothers recover from their cough after 3-5 days. Coughing is a process of recovery whereby the airway is cleaned and repaired. Don’t be overly concerned if you get better slowly – most people get better within 14 days. If you do have a cough, try not to cough too hard, as it can cause a sore throat. It is particularly important that pregnant women who have experienced a miscarriage or are late in their pregnancy do not cough too hard.
If you have a severe cough, respiratory secretions may accumulate when lying flat, which can aggravate the cough. If this is the case, consider elevating your head – this should be done by elevating the head, neck, and back. Use two pillows, placing the pillow for the back vertically, and the pillow for the head horizontally, creating a ‘T’ shape. This is conducive to smooth breathing and reduced coughing.
If you cough frequently, drink water with rock sugar, and keep indoor temperature and humidity at suitable levels.
In severe cases, seek timely medical attention, and take medication under the guidance of your doctor.
Q: After getting Covid-19, I sweat at night while I sleep – is this normal?
A: Sweating at night during pregnancy is a normal physiological phenomenon. It is caused by the faster metabolism of pregnant women. However, if you are feeling weak, it will cause sweating, therefore, it may be more common to sweat after being infected with Covid-19. If this is the case, pay attention to what you wear while you sleep, and wear comfortable cotton clothing.
Additionally, a calcium deficiency and hyperthyroidism can also cause pregnant women to sweat profusely as soon as they fall asleep. Therefore, if the situation is serious, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor to choose the appropriate treatment plan.
The Jiahui Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology is dedicated to delivering the best patient experience for women and their families. Providing the best patient experience starts with our pledge to maintain a culture of safety, practice compassionate evidence based medicine, utilize the most advanced technology available, and provide impeccable customer service.