The unexpected anxieties of being pregnant throughout COVID-19
Pregnancy can feel incredibly daunting. Bringing new life into the world is an incredible experience but expecting mothers can often feel anxious and unprepared. In the current climate, pregnant women are undergoing more uncertainty than ever.
On Monday 16th March, pregnant women were officially encompassed in a “vulnerable group” by the chief medical officer. Naturally, this announcement has led to distress and anxiety, especially as there’s little information currently about the impact COVID-19 could have on pregnant women and newborn babies.
During this time, women and their families must take all precautions recommended, including self-isolation and social distancing. Pregnant women should especially good care of their own mental health and well-being, thinking creatively about how to get the care and resources they need despite these most difficult of times.
What does the official advice tell us?
Although there have been no specific dangers linking COVID-19 to pregnancy, it is still vitally importance to take any precautionary measures possible as there are still many unknowns about the exact nature of the virus. Isolation and social distancing should therefore be practiced by pregnant women wherever possible.
On the 20th March, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) published a report titled “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy”. Although there are still many unknowns about the effect that the virus could have on pregnant women, this report has shed some light. Despite having been deemed a ‘vulnerable group’, the report states that “The large majority of women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms. Cough, fever and shortness of breath are other relevant symptoms.” In addition to this, it was stated that “There are currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19.”
Being pregnant while social distancing
Social distancing is difficult for most of us, but when pregnant, it can feel even more isolating. Luckily, there are a number of resources for you and your family to help ease the burden.
Building your support network
When you’re pregnant, especially if you’re a first-time mother, a strong support network is essential to help you cope with all the changes you’re undergoing. As well as reaching out to your friends and family, take advantage of online forums to talk to people in the same position as yourself.
You’ll be able to get a plethora of advice from other moms who have already had their children. Given the drastic times we are currently living in, no one will quite understand what you’re going through apart from other currently pregnant women. Find them online, talk to them, and create a network — this way you won’t have to face any uncertainty alone. BabyCenter and HeyMama are favorites in the US, MumsNet.com for the European mums.
Buying maternity clothes
Your body will undergo serious changes during your pregnancy and keeping up with these alternations can be a pain when it comes to finding clothes that fit. During the COVID-19 crisis, you won’t be able to wander out to the shops to buy something new. So turn instead to online shopping. There are many maternity ranges available online and a lot of clothes retailers such as H&M are now offering free shipping on all items due to the exceptional circumstances.
Having resources at the ready
Finally, make sure you’re always prepared. If you’re close to birth, make sure you have a bag ready to go for when you need to head to the hospital. When you’re packing your bag, why not write up a hospital bag checklist? Make sure you have:
· Emergency toiletries in the event of any postpartum bleeding
· Some of your favorite snacks at the ready
· Plenty of maternity towels
· Fresh, comfortable night clothing
Maintaining your physical health
It can be hard to stay active while you’re pregnant, and even more difficult when you’re stuck in the confines of your home. The internet, yet again, is a saving grace here. Access some online pregnancy-specific exercise videos such as yoga, or sit-down Pilates, and try and factor in some exercise to your daily routine – nothing too strenuous, just enough to add a bit more movement into your day-to-day and minimize any aches and pains.
Thankfully, we still have access to many of our favorite restaurants and cafes in takeaway form, as well as online delivery from supermarkets. Whatever your pregnancy cravings may be, don’t feel guilty about getting as much as your favorite food delivered online as possible! Items that can be reheated are best. Add a note to the delivery service asking them to drop off the order outside to avoid social contact.
Caring for your mental health
It’s no wonder that your mental health might be suffering during these testing times, so unlock some coping methods to help you stay in a positive mindset. Practice mindfulness (many apps or audiotapes on the subject are available) and stay in close contact with friends and loved ones. Remember, even if people can’t be there for you physically, they are only a phone call away.
As difficult as these nine months might be, it will all be worth it when you’re holding your baby in your arms. Things can seem daunting when they are unclear, so the best thing you can do is take any precautions you can, prioritize your mental and physical health, and keep in touch with loved ones. Soon your world will change for the better, and you’ll be welcoming a new member into the family. Until then, stay at home and take care of yourself.