Pregnant during the COVID19 Pandemic? You’re Not Alone.
Pregnant or trying to conceive during the COVID19 pandemic? You aren’t alone. Here’s some ideas to help you take care of your growing family and soothe your worried mind.
Many women find pregnancy a bit stressful as it is, and so the idea of going through this experience while also dealing with a global pandemic is a bit daunting. When I was pregnant a couple of years ago, I was worried about getting sick (given my reduced immune system response), worried about my partner traveling and not being able to be nearby if I needed him, and worried about the logistics and details of childbirth (something nobody can plan or control). I imagine if I were pregnant now, all of my anxiety and fears would be multiplied x100 given our current health crisis.
What Pregnant Women Are Saying
I posted on a few Facebook mom groups and asked pregnant women how the COVID19 pandemic was affecting their pregnancy. I was not surprised to get responses from well over 300 women. These women shared their fears and frustrations around limited visitors and support partners allowed at the hospital during labor, changes to their birth plans at the last minute, the possibility of being separated from their baby at birth, and many other concerns and unknowns affecting their pregnancy and birth experience. Here are a few of the responses I received:
“I had my original delivery date changed 24 hours prior to the planned time because of low blood supplies as my baby may need a transfusion”
“There are no more in-person childbirth classes at the hospitals and I’m worried about going to my OBGYN check ups as regularly scheduled in case I get infected by other sick people.”
“My husband is no longer allowed at my OB appointments. We’ve been told only 1 support person during labor, no visitors at the hospital, and we must do a 2-week self quarantine at home after the birth and no out-of-state visitors for 3 months.”
“I’m worried about how this pandemic will affect my maternity leave. If I get exposed to the virus now I’ll have to take off work and I may have to forfeit my maternity leave later for financial reasons.”
“It breaks my heart that my daughter won’t get to go to the hospital to meet her new baby brother and won’t be able to see her parents for a few days.”
“I’ve dealt with pregnancy stress before, but this is different. Depression has set in. I could really use a support system, but we have to avoid interactions with others. There is so much unknown and I’m scared.”
“I’m terrified that my husband may not be able to be by my side during the labor (if he has symptoms of the virus)”
“I was scheduled for an elective induction, but it was cancelled as the hospital was short staffed.”
“The hardest part is realizing all of those plans and dreams we had for the upcoming birth will most likely not happen.”
“From canceled baby showers to realizing we won’t be able to have family come to the hospital, it’s been a lot of altered plans.”
“I’m scared that I will get (COVID19) and they will separate me from my newborn baby.”
“I’m heartbroken that instead of this being an exciting time it is becoming a time of panic, stress, and isolation.”
“I’m terrified I’m going to lose this baby in a miscarriage due to the virus.”
“If I had known what I know now, I would never have done our embryo transfer 4 weeks ago. I would have waited even though it would have killed me to do so!”
A few pregnant women said the current pandemic hadn’t changed their pregnancy much, other than appropriate social distancing and one woman said that due to COVID19 she is even more grateful that she is planning a homebirth commenting “I will not be told how I’m birthing or who can/can’t come.” I’ve also started hearing more and more stories from pregnant women who are choosing a home birth instead of a hospital birth or who are traveling to different states to have their birth in a hospital that will allow for them to have their doula or husband with them during the labor.
What Do We Know About COVID19 and Pregnancy?
As of May 8, 2020, according to the CDC’s website, “ We do not currently know if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant. However, we do know that (1) pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections, and (2) pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same daily as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.” The World Health organization’s (WHO) website shares similar thoughts.
In regards to prenatal care, NPR reported on March 30, 2020, “Pregnant women are considered an ‘at-risk population for COVID-19’ because they’re generally at higher risk from respiratory infections, so numerous hospitals nationwide are minimizing childbirth visitors and doing more prenatal visits by phone or online, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists”.
What Do We Know About COVID19 and Baby?
In addition, the CDC says that “mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread; a very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth, however it’s unknown if these babies got the virus before or after the birth, and; the virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid, breastmilk, or other maternal samples.
Yet, it is still understandable why pregnant women and parents-to-be would be concerned when expecting a child as there have still been pediatric cases reported for COVID19.
So What Can You Do?
The current guidance from the CDC and the WHO on how to protect yourself from the virus is the same as for the general public: cover your cough, avoid people who are sick, and clean your hands often. This guidance doesn’t give much hope or help to pregnant women who are scared out of their minds right now worried about their baby, their own health, and their family.
There are a few things that you can do to calm your body and your mind during this uncertain time. I recommend some basics to keep yourself healthy during this time like reducing how much news you expose yourself to, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy food, and exercising regularly in order to help boost your immune system and prepare your body for a potential future sickness. In addition, I highly recommend Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breath and daily meditations using apps like headspace or Shine to manage stress and anxiety. Most of all, seek support daily using apps like Marco Polo or Facetime to communicate with other pregnant women, friends, or family.
In addition, focus on what you can control during this time and limit your exposure to social media and news if it is increasing your anxiety. Stay in regular contact with your health-care provider and let them know if you need more support. Make plans for your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum- but remain flexible as plans may change as this pandemic evolves. Remember that you aren’t alone and there are others (be that friends, family, health-care providers, doulas, midwives) who are there to support you during this time.
- If you don’t have a lot of space or you just don’t want a lot of stuff, we’ve handpicked the items you’re going to actually need (and want!) on your baby registry. From cribs that transform into beds to organic clothing that can go from day to night, these products are perfect for you and your minimalist mini me.
- Whether you’re pregnant, still in the baby haze, or raising a small child, life during COVID-19 is not easy for a mother at any stage. The day-to-day details may look different, but the exhaustion, fear, frustration, and profound gratitude are universal.