Pregnancy is a magical time.
Wondering if you’ll have a boy or girl. Picking names. Attending birth classes. Enjoying baby showers.
The COVID-19 pandemic was definitely not what you ever envisioned would be part of this amazing time in your life. So, you’re naturally feeling a little more than the usual pregnancy anxiety.
But remember, and it is important – for both you and your baby – to keep that worry and fear in appropriate check. Here are some practical ways to help cope with the coronavirus during your pregnancy.
Know the facts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t yet know whether pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public or if they can pass on the virus to their babies during pregnancy and delivery. Therefore, there is no reason to assume it does or that it will hurt your unborn baby.
Since the disease is new, researchers are still learning how it spreads. However, no infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus so far. Additionally, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
That said, doctors believe that pregnant women may be in general at greater risk for developing severe illness from certain infections. So it’s important to protect yourself and your baby from ANY illness as much as possible by:
- Avoiding people who are sick
- Keeping a safe social distance – at least six feet – between yourself and others
- Keeping your unwashed hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially if you’ve been in a public place: better yet, stay out of public places
- Using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap is not available
If you follow these guidelines, you know you’re doing what you can to protect yourself and your baby.
Review your prenatal care plan with your doctor.
Ask about any precautions you should take when going for your prenatal visits, ultrasounds, or lab testing BEFORE your scheduled appointments. Call ahead. During the pandemic, your doctor may decide to conduct fewer in-person visits and substitute a few phone consultations or, maybe, even have video visits instead. Having a plan in advance for each step in your prenatal journey can go along way to ease your anxiety to tolerable levels.
Take good care of yourself.
Healthy living contributes to your wellbeing, both physically and emotionally, let alone contributing positively to your growing unborn child. So, commit to taking these healthy steps:
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco, and never use illicit drugs — these are known to be harmful. Be good to your body and your baby’s.
- Eat nutritious foods and well-balanced meals- consistently.
- Get enough sleep every day.
- Take prenatal vitamins (as recommended by your doctor) regularly and as prescribed.
Stay active throughout your pregnancy.
Although you may be sheltering-in-place, it’s important to stay physically fit. Look for pregnancy workouts and free exercise apps on the internet. Or, if you prefer, just take a walk and enjoy being outdoors. Any type of physical activity will help you clear your mind. Remember: keep that body moving regularly!
Do some nesting.
What better time than now? Prepare your new baby’s bedroom. Organize your shelves. Clean a closet. Creating order in your life and your environment helps to reduce anxiety — and helps prepare you for the busy days ahead with your baby. Just be sure to avoid bleach and other toxic cleaning chemicals, and be sure when you are cleaning to open windows for fresh air and good ventilation.
Limit your exposure to news coverage.
It’s important to stay informed through TV, radio and social media, but don’t overload yourself with information. Excessive exposure is known to raise anxiety and stress levels. This is something that you can control during the pandemic. Instead, keep a healthy perspective by tuning in to news coverage only at certain times of the day, and only for limited durations. Be aware that rumors often circulate on social media — not everything you read or hear is true. So, if you have questions, seek facts, rather than react to the worried fears of others. Consult a reliable source such as the CDC, your doctor or your local health department. Let logic, truth and facts reign — not speculation, paranoia and panic.
Engage in relaxing activities.
Some women find it helpful to reduce stress through meditation, prayer, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Other ideas include reading a good book, listening to music, learning a new language online, starting a gratitude journal – anything that’s calming and gives you joy and satisfaction. Just make it part of your daily life!
Connect with others by phone or the internet.
Call and talk with your friends and relatives through FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or other means. Sharing experiences helps you realize the truth — that you are not alone. There are many, many ways to stay emotionally connected to others during this temporary period of physical distancing. For example, you could join an online forum for moms-to-be where you can have an outlet with others who are also coping with pregnancy during this pandemic. Or, better yet, you and your friends can focus on the new adventures that lie ahead for you when your precious new baby arrives. Pick up the phone, text, go online, chat and connect.
And remember, if your anxiety lasts for more than several days in a row or ever feels overwhelming, please seek support from a healthcare provider, religious leader or mental health professional. Visit tanner.org/find-a-provider to find a provider near you.
Visit cdc.gov/COVID19 to keep up with the latest news and recommendations regarding the virus.