COVID-19: Pregnancy and the Immune System

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to illness during pregnancy because of their compromised immune system, specifically during the 2nd trimester. The immune system is repressed due to the foreign DNA (father’s DNA) within the fetus. The stress that pregnancy puts on a pregnant body is important to take into consideration when discussing the immune system. It is important to be proactive about keeping your immune system strong. Here are 6 all-natural ways to stay healthy and vibrant during pregnancy, even in the face of COVID-19.

Water. Water. Water A pregnant woman needs an average of 3 liters of water per day to stay well hydrated. When the body is hydrated, it means that cells are getting the oxygen they need to keep you feeling energetic. Water also flushes toxins from your system and helps by keeping the lymphatic system “fluid”, which in turn, allows the circulation of white blood cells and nutrients throughout your body.

Eat and Eat Well. There are many facets to eating well. Staying away from processed sugar and simple carbohydrates, such as breads and sweets. Adding  vitamin C rich foods rich in ascorbic acid, as these are a form of antioxidant, protecting your system from free radicals. Protein-rich foods are of the utmost importance during pregnancy, as protein is the building blocks of all systems within the body, including the immune system. At least 75 grams of protein daily is known to build the immune system and ward off many pregnancy complications, such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Fresh garlic, a natural antibiotic, is very effective in keeping women healthy during pregnancy. Find foods such as yogurt and/or certain types of kraut which contain probiotics. Probiotics aid your body in digestion and colon detoxification, the main components of your immune system are found in your gut flora!

Wash your hands. Everyone always remembers to wash their hands, right? Whether or not you do, now is the time to be vigilant about hand-washing. Washing with soap and water will help remove the bacteria and germs that accumulate on your hands as you go about your day. Always wash after using the bathroom, preparing foods, eating meals, and moving through public spaces where you’re touching the same surfaces other people touch (like the subway or bus). If you’re on top of proper washing, you can ditch antibacterial soaps and harsh sanitizers. Staying home whenever possible is ALWAYS a good idea.

Rest. Relax. Sleep. As pregnancy progresses, sleep may seem to feel like a fairytale. Try your best to get a good night’s sleep every night. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your immune system’s functioning, and over time, it can be hard to fully repair. For better sleep, choose one side to rest on (don’t sleep on your back), use a full body pillow, spring for a calming white noise machine, or take soothing warm baths before bedtime.

Laughter. The Best Medicine. We all know the saying “laughter is the best medicine,”. Believe it or not, research has actually shown that this advice holds some truth. According to one study, “our physiology changes when we laugh. Our pulse and blood pressure go up, we breathe faster, and we send more oxygen to our tissues.” All of these effects have positive impacts, so reach out to your friendly midwife, she is always good for a laugh. Or, find a friend or loved one to giggle with.

Soak up sunshine for a healthier immune system. Did you know? Rays of the sunshine actually trigger your skin’s production of vitamin D, which is crucial to maintaining an immune system that can fight infections! However, please also note that when you’re pregnant, your skin is more sensitive to the sun, so please be sure to limit full summer exposure to short bursts of 10-15 minutes and wear a natural, pregnancy-safe sunscreen.