The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop. It’s made life harder for all of us—at work, at school, even at the supermarket. And there’s no one who feels the stress and anxiety of the past year more deeply than expecting mothers. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, it’s not easy to be pregnant in the midst of everything that’s going on. How can you stay healthy and relaxed when everything feels so chaotic? Here, I’ll talk more about COVID-19 and pregnancy, how to handle stress, and what you can do to keep yourself and your little one safe.
- COVID-19 and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know Now
- Tips for Social Distancing and Staying Safe While Pregnant
- Practicing Self-Care During Pregnancy
- Know That it Will Be Okay
COVID-19 and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know Now
Pregnancy is a challenging time for many women without the added stress of a global pandemic. Your body doesn’t feel like your own, you’re nauseated and exhausted much of the time, and you’re anxious about the little person growing inside you. Add in COVID-19, and it’s enough to make anyone want to stay in bed and hide. Thankfully, after more than a year, experts understand more about how coronavirus affects pregnant women and have evidence-based recommendations for you. At the present moment, the CDC offers special guidelines for staying safe and healthy during pregnancy, as it does present an increased risk for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. As data about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for expecting mothers and their unborn babies is limited, the CDC considers it a personal choice whether to take the vaccine while pregnant. It’s an important conversation to have with your OB/GYN so that you can weigh the benefits and risks together.
Tips for Social Distancing and Staying Safe While Pregnant
Leave the House Prepared
The advice we’ve heard for months now is doubly important for high-risk groups like pregnant women. Wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer with you whenever you need to go out. It may be helpful to store a bag of disposable masks and a travel bottle of hand sanitizer in your handbag or glove compartment. And be sure to wash your hands as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. Sanitizer is handy when you’re on the go, but it isn’t as effective as good old soap and water.
Keep Your Prenatal Appointments
Getting proper prenatal care is important during any pregnancy, but more so now than ever before. Make sure you attend your regular prenatal checkup appointments so that your OB and their staff can ensure you and baby are healthy. You’ll need to practice social distancing in the waiting and exam rooms, and if your pregnancy is low-risk, you may be able to complete some visits virtually. Ask your doctor what their recommendations are for staying safe during visits.
Have a Birth Plan
Do you know how to get rid of anxiety about delivering your baby during COVID-19? One favor you can do for yourself is to be fully prepared. Talk to your OB about what delivery will look like and whether your partner can be in the delivery and recovery rooms. If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you and your doctor can discuss the safest practices for nursing while in the hospital. Medical facilities have excellent social distancing protocols in place, and knowing more about them should help to ease your fears.
Practicing Self-Care During Pregnancy
Eat a Balanced Diet
When you’re feeling stressed and hormonal, it can be really tempting to load up on comfort foods. Resist the urge to binge on chips, soda, and sugary snacks. They’ll make you feel lethargic and can even put you at an increased risk for gestational diabetes, which presents serious risks to you and your unborn baby. When you’re feeling hungry and tired, make it a point to munch on good-for-you snacks like hummus and veggies, low-fat string cheese, or nuts. Eating well helps you to stay healthier, and you won’t gain unwanted pounds that will be difficult to shed after giving birth.
Make Time for Gentle Exercise
Moving your body is a wonderful way to fight stress, depression, and anxiety throughout pregnancy. As long as you’ve been cleared for light exercise by your OB, you can make it part of your daily routine while pregnant. Try gentle prenatal yoga poses, or go for a brisk walk in the fresh air. If weather permits, going for a swim is low-impact and can help ease your pregnancy aches and pains. Make time for just fifteen minutes of exercise a day to start, and you’ll soon enjoy its benefits (and possibly feel up for longer workouts).
Take a Social Media Break
Did you know that Aza Raskin, who invented the infinite scroll feature we use on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, wishes he could un-invent it? It’s so easy to become addicted to scrolling your feed for hours on end without even realizing you’re doing it. And, with everything that’s happening in the word, it seems every time you log into Facebook, you’re bound to be doomscrolling. Subjecting yourself to one bad news story after another is toxic for your mental health. Take good care of yourself by disengaging from social media on a regular basis. You might limit yourself to one hour per day or delete the apps from your phone, or you could take a weeklong vacation from it all. Replace your doomscrolling habit with a more positive one, like using a meditation app or downloading a book you’ve been meaning to read.
Stay Connected to Friends and Family
Ditching Facebook and Instagram doesn’t mean you have to become a total hermit. Staying in touch with the people you love will bring joy to your days and help you to feel calmer. So send the excited grandparents a picture of your growing bump, and call your BFF to chat. Having a circle of strong supporters is part of living a healthy and happy life.
Know That it Will Be Okay
I’ve had three babies of my own, and none of my pregnancies were complicated by a global pandemic. Each of them was difficult enough on its own, so it’s hard for me to imagine just how stressed you feel right now. Know that your medical care team will do their absolute best to keep you and your baby safe and healthy and that better days are coming. As more vaccines become available, we’ll approach herd immunity and begin to see the other side of this thing. Take great care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, and stay safe.