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PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT DURING PREGNANCY IN COVID-19

Pregnancy is a period in which a process and series of changes take place in a woman’s organs and tissues as a result of a developing foetus. Being pregnant ideally is an event that is associated with joy, delight and fulfilment following a safe and positive pregnancy. However some pregnant women and their partners can experience a range of negative emotions during this period of pandemic COVID-19, including anxiety, stress and depression. The increasing maternal mental health problems were evident globally and the contributing factors that are responsible were: stress, conflict situation, crisis and natural disasters. This can create a negative impact on the mother, partner and their children. This way it raises a question: What can be done to safeguard the mental health problems of a pregnant mother during the pandemic COVID – 19?

          Besides the population level pandemic-related stress, pregnant women also suffer from short-long term impacts of mental health. In Indian society where type of family are joint, there are huge number of members in the house and women are known to be the carer of household because mostly men are known to go out and earn. Therefore under the circumstances of COVID-19 they experienced physical pain and emotional disturbances as a result of living with an ill person, self isolation and limitation in accessing the basic necessities, medical emergencies and financial crisis. These issues had a great impact especially for those women who are living under poverty if they are the caretakers for all the members in the house in a confined space.

          In this way there is a need of psychosocial support to reach the needy in order to reinforce positive mental health and optimise the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of a mother, baby and the family members. It involves addressing the needs and concerns of the pregnant women, listening to them carefully and tries to understand what is most important to them during the pandemic situation of COVID-19 and then helping them to work out what their priorities are, which urgent needs are. Psychosocial support can be:

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  • Time management– strengthening time management will help reduce depression and anxiety level among pregnancy women. The effect of time management will lead to sleeping quality problems. Following a proper time schedule, a person will be able to make time for themselves in terms of personal care, medications and relaxation.
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  • Stress management/reduction– during the pandemic period, a person might be having lots of concern about their pregnancy and their baby might cause a lot of stress. Thus it is important to support them in identifying the stressors and by using the problem solving techniques, solutions can be implemented to develop positive ways i.e. listening to music, playing games and sometimes encouragement is needed to make their own solution.
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  • Connect with friends and family – with the presence of lockdown, although movements are being restricted it feels isolating and stressful but with the available modern technology such as video calls with friends and family members can be encouraged so that the pregnant mothers can stay away from the bad habits which is harmful for them and their baby.
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  • Joining support groups– with the presence of lockdown many classes and groups were being closed but there are some other means in which the pregnant women can explore and into joining a virtual support group. It is always a good idea to talk to others in a similar situation in this way they can discuss and help one another. The group will help them in socialisation, instilling hopes, positive thinking, sharing and gaining feedbacks. By being in the group the pregnant mothers can participate in the activities thus will promote the positive mental health during the pandemic situation.
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  • Positive coping skills – it is important to support them in instilling a positive coping skill so that bad habits such as use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs can be discouraged towards fighting against the mental disturbances for the wellbeing of a mother and baby.
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  • Resource mobilization – when the world is under a threat, people are unable to get enough access into their needs for necessities. Therefore supporting them in such a crisis is very important in terms of capital, basic necessities and medical assistance to reduce the burden during the pandemic circumstances.
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  • Relaxation exercises during pregnancy – during the COVID-19 outbreak, exercises are one positive way to reduce stress and anxiety among the pregnant mother and their baby. Example going for a walk or doing yoga and meditation it can help to clear the mind, slow down and ease the worries. For starters there are so many sources which provide information and knowledge how to carry out these exercises. But before performing such exercises it is important to communicate with the care provider.
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  • Strengthening social support for women during pregnancy – people cope up better when they have someone that offer care and support, it is usually helpful to include that person in the discussion to encourage and support each other. A person does not necessarily need many social support but they do need someone who can be helpful to them and provide support in a specific situation especially during the COVID-19 outbreak example by talking to someone, by getting more practical help, such as support with taking care of other children in the family, connecting with the agency or organisation in the community. It is important to help the person to identify supportive and trusted family member, friends and community members and to think through how each one can be involved in helping.

     However there are several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that provide psychosocial support to people during these difficult times. Through their services they are offering coping strategies, awareness on self care and hygiene methods through videos and podcasts, up-to-date information, organising resources, counselling through helpline numbers, medical care, psychiatric care, psychological care  and health education to the people who are in need of help.

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