How pregnant women can take care of their mental health during the COVID - 19 pandemic

Dr Anitha Chandra, Consultant – Psychiatry, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, India

During this pandemic, pregnancy can be a stressful period for many women as many of them may experience greater symptoms of depression and anxiety. Several factors such as physical and social isolation before and after the pregnancy, burden of household work, adapting to extreme hygiene measures and maintaining a work-life balance can significantly hamper the state-of-mind of the pregnant women.  

Furthermore, many to-be-mothers are also worried whether they would contract the virus during the perinatal period and how it can impact their child’s health. Hence, amid such a scenario, lack of support from the family, job loss and social disparity can further increase the burden of stress and anxiety among them and can push them towards depression.

Coping with Depression and Anxiety among Pregnant Women

In order to keep stress, anxiety and depression during this period at bay, the first thing that pregnant women should do is to acknowledge that pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period come with multiple mental states or feelings. A pre-pregnancy period of emotional preparation is a must.

Physical activity and exercise are crucial to coping with depression and anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that exercise of around 150 minutes a week reduces mental disorder symptoms. Given that isolation and feelings of loneliness are high during pregnancy in the pandemic period, it would be ideal to arrange for virtual interaction with families, relatives and friends.

It would also be good to have tele-therapy sessions, pre-and post-natal appointments by connecting with health professionals regularly. In the context of the pandemic, if the need for quarantine arises, it would be a good idea to be in the vicinity of near and dear ones. A room in the house can be identified for the person to stay and manage social interactions.

There are a few other tips that can be considered to tackle depression and anxiety: having a positive outlook towards the pregnancy period, seeking help from families, renting a bigger house temporarily if you presently live in a smaller house, having a flexible team approach, sleeping well, practicing lifestyle habits like yoga and a balanced diet that keep emotions stable.

Aster’s Serenity App can act as your friend in coping with extreme anxiety, stress or any sort of mental impact.