Early pregnancy and coronavirus
From Zita West and CARE Fertility
We understand that the rise of the Omicron variant may be causing you stress, especially if you are newly pregnant, have been trying to conceive for some time, have had miscarriages or have gone through IVF treatment. It can be incredibly hard to self-isolate, especially during the festive season.
At CARE, we are guided by what the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (RCOG) advise for pregnant people.* The RCOG has shared that there is growing evidence that those who are pregnant may be at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus compared with non-pregnant people; it is crucial that you protect yourself as much as you can.
We are here to reassure and guide you on what you can do to protect yourself during this time.
What can you do to protect yourself against COVID-19?
The vaccination against coronavirus is strongly recommended in pregnancy and can be given to you at any stage. It is also recommended that you have a third dose (known as a booster vaccine) three months after your second dose for further protection from coronavirus.
The vaccinations do not contain ingredients known to be harmful to pregnant people or developing babies, and over 280,000 people in the UK and USA have had a coronavirus vaccine in pregnancy with no serious adverse effects recorded.
2. Get your anxiety under control
Those newly pregnant after IVF often say they are happy for the first five minutes of finding out, then anxiety kicks in big time. You can’t afford to be this anxious for nine months! Anxiety releases stress hormones that deplete the body of vital nutrients and stores these nutrients you need for your developing baby. Remember, you have control over your mindset, so you have to implement techniques and strategies that will help you and support your immune and nervous system to counteract stress hormones. Breathing, meditation and visualisation will help evoke the relaxation response if you practice for 20 minutes a day.
Connecting with your baby through visualisation is so important; in pregnancy, many don’t want to connect in early pregnancy because of the disappointments they’ve had in the past. There are many apps available that can support you with this.
Sometimes, speaking to others who understand how you are feeling can make you feel less alone. The CARE Forum is available to you 24/7, and allows you to speak to others who may be in a similar position. You can share thoughts, experiences and feel reassured.
You may have done everything in terms of preparation, nutrients and supplements to get pregnant, and before this, you may have been dieting and controlling what you eat. However, once you are pregnant, you are likely to start craving more carbohydrates. This is absolutely fine; your body is telling you that you need energy, so don’t fight it.
Of course, not all carbohydrates are the same, but if you’re fighting nausea and tiredness, 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 need to do what you can to get through.
4. Supplementation to support your immune system
It may not always be possible to get all the key nutrients or supplements you need to support yourself and your baby from diet alone.
Some key nutrients and supplements are:
- Vitamin D. This is the workhorse of the immune system and is low in many people 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 people supplement their diets with Folate during the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Omega 3 is an important element in developing healthy cell membranes and body tissue during pregnancy. DHA, in particular, plays a critical role in developing a baby’s brain during pregnancy and early infancy. Your baby relies entirely on you, so it is important to build up your stores.
- Choline is an essential nutrient required by the body to make essential compounds necessary for healthy cell membranes. Demand for choline during pregnancy is very high due to its transfer from the mother to the foetus.
This can sometimes be hard to come by in pregnancy, especially if you already have children, but try to sleep as much as you can and listen to 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!
Finally, keep up the hope and belief. It may have been a tough journey to get to where you are today, and of course, anything can happen, but it’s important to focus on the positive and 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
With love from Zita West and CARE x
*Information from the RCOG was published December 2021, and can be found here.