Even in normal circumstances, pregnancy can feel incredibly daunting. Bringing new life into the world is an incredible experience but expecting mums 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 new-born babies.
As well as gathering the facts, pregnant women and their families must take all the precautions recommended by the UK government, including self-isolation and social distancing. As well as this, pregnant women need to take good care of their own mental health and wellbeing, thinking creatively about how to get the care and resources they need despite these most difficult of times.
Let’s look more closely at the advice that pregnant women should be following and explore the ways that they can cope with pregnancy during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Official Advice
On the 20th March, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (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.”
Although there have been no specific dangers linking Covid-19 to pregnancy, it is still of vital importance to take any precautionary measures possible as there are still many unknowns about the exact nature of Covid-19. Self-isolation should therefore be practiced by pregnant women wherever possible.
How to cope with pregnancy while practicing 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 things that you and your family can do to help ease the burden.
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.
Thankfully, we still have access to many of our favourite 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 favourite food delivered online as possible! Add a note to the delivery service asking them to drop off the order outside to avoid social contact.
Building your support network
When you’re pregnant, especially if you’re a first-time mum, 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 such as Mumsnet to talk to people in the same position as yourself. You’ll be able to get a plethora of advice from mums who have already had their children. But 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.
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 minimise any aches and pains.
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, make sure you have:
- Plenty of maternity pads
- Fresh, comfortable night clothing
- Emergency toiletries in the event of any postpartum bleeding
- Some of your favourite snacks at the ready
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, prioritise 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.