Pregnancy can be a challenging time for many, but throw in a global pandemic and all of a sudden it takes some challenges to a whole new level. Pregnancy during coronavirus is not what most of us envisioned when we pictured our beautiful, goddess-like pregnancies and newborn days filled with festive baby showers, pregnancy/mommy & me fitness classes, breastfeeding support groups, and just lots of opportunities for community with other women in our shoes.
Not only are we missing out on community, but the unknowns surrounding this virus have us worried about our family’s health and how a newborn baby may be impacted. Your family may be going through a particularly difficult time financially right now with a job loss or reduced hours.
You’re also probably cycling through many waves of emotions–one minute feeling like the reduced obligations are a blessing right now since you could use the rest, the next minute feeling lost in a wave of anxiety and loneliness.
All of this is normal & acceptable. We want to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. Here are some tips for making it through this pandemic if you are in need of some encouragement.
Keep a Routine
While you may have to create a completely new routine compared to your “old life”, having a routine is important for your mental health. This is something I really struggle with myself, but I can see how much better I am emotionally when I make an effort to keep a routine.
Start by waking at a consistent time each day. When you wake, do something to promote your emotional wellness first thing. Avoid the temptation to just grab your phone and start scrolling social media or news headlines. More ideas on what you can do to start your day in the next section.
Next, make yourself a wholesome breakfast.
Then, get some work done. Maybe while eating breakfast or shortly after, you can create a to-do list for yourself. Checking things off a list really helps make you feel motivated and productive. We all have different things to complete in a day, but since I am only working one day a week right now, my to-do list usually focuses on household tasks.
Do your best to eat a healthy lunch & dinner at a normal time. Do your best to keep a consistent bed time.
Focus on Your Emotional & Spiritual Health
We are all impacted by this pandemic in different ways. Some of us just good about doing what we can to protect others, some feel minorly inconvenienced but will comply because they understand the purpose, some people are just annoyed or angry over the whole thing, and others are in crisis.
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, we are all dealing with some emotional challenges because of this situation. Focusing on your emotional and spiritual health can be a great way to help keep yourself grounded. Make this part of your routine. As I suggested above, right when you wake up is a good time.
If you are religious or spiritual, spending time in prayer and meditation each morning can be a great way to center yourself.
You could also try writing in a journal, listening to positive affirmations, phoning a friend for a heart-to-heart chat, or going for a light walk or doing yoga. I’ll talk more about exercise in the next section, but many people find prayer walks or some yoga to be a great way to keep emotions healthy.
Chat with your OB or midwife before starting any new exercise program, but the vast majority of low risk pregnant women can do low to moderate-impact exercise without much concern. Many pregnant women are able to keep up with high impact exercise programs (although somewhat modified) as long as their body was used to these movements prior to pregnancy.
Unless you’re high risk with complications, going on walks or doing yoga is safe for almost everybody. Not only is it just safe, but it’s very good for you and baby. Most people are dealing with nicer weather now, and spending time outdoors exercising is not only permitted (even in places with stay at home orders), but it does incredible things for your health.
Here are some benefits of moderate exercise:
- lowers blood pressure (such a great perk for many pregnant women as high blood pressure is a serious issue in pregnancy)
- helps manage blood sugar (great for preventing or treating gestational diabetes)
- helps manage excess weight gain
- increases bone density
- promotes better sleep
- improves mild to moderate anxiety and depression
- helps you manage stress
- improves energy
- reduces constipation, bloating, & swelling
- promotes muscle tone
- may improve your experience with labor
Here are some benefits to spending time outdoors:
- increases vitamin D (not only essential for your baby’s development, but vitamin D plays a vital role in our immune health)
- sunlight raises serotonin levels, which can improve anxiety
- helps regulate your body clock and improves sleep
- improves focus and self-esteem
- better immunity (not just with vitamin D, but many plants put substances into the air that can improve our immune function, and sunlight energizes T cells which improves our immune functions)
Exercise can be an area that many struggle with motivation and experience guilt. Instead of thinking of it as something you have to do or should do, try thinking about how it is a gift to yourself and your baby. Even a short stroll around the neighborhood can give you many benefits.
Complete A Project
Keeping ourselves busy and productive can be extremely beneficial for our mental health. If you feel you are lacking the capacity to take on a project or hobby, don’t beat yourself up. Rest as you need it, but remember that you are likely going to go through cycles and phases during this pandemic.
Sometimes we may be too stressed, anxious, and beat down to consider a project.
Other days we will wake up wanting to keep our hands busy.
So if you don’t feel like a project is something you can take on right now, don’t push it. But if you get enough motivation to give it a try, it will really give you a great boost.
My husband and I have been building (him) and staining (me) furniture for our home. We also finally got around to putting the nursery together. We have several outdoor projects we will need to work on soon. The least we could do is take advantage of the extra time we at home on weekends to get things done (yes, even with kids we are able to get stuff done! They just play and hang out while we work).
Remember that We WILL Get Through This
We will get through this. Many things may not go back exactly to the way they were before, but don’t try to dwell on that as a bad thing. There could be many positive changes that result from this. At the very least, they are changes we will get used to, will become our new normal, and we won’t dwell on how things used to be.
Try to think about the positive sides. Here are a few of my own positives that I have to remember to focus on when I get down:
- More privacy during labor & delivery.
- No pressure to accept visitors and the freedom to just enjoy our new baby without intrusion
- No random belly rubs from people
- My husband has underlying conditions, so at least I know we are doing what we can to keep him safe
- Less taboo than it was before to not allow tons of people to hold your newborn for fear of germs
How are you getting through this quarantine time as a pregnant mama? Share your tips in the comments!