This article has been written from a relatability standpoint and is in no way written to incite fear or promote controversial discussion. Those who choose to read should know that these are purely recommendations that have worked for me and my pregnancy. I hope they work for you and yours, too. This post may contain affiliate links which means we may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase using one of these links.
We’ve officially been living in a global pandemic for a year and with new strains of the Coronavirus coming at us from all different parts of the globe, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon. Even with vaccines being made available at the start of 2021, many people, including pregnant women, are incredibly torn over whether or not to get it. Which can be an easy decision for some, and understandably difficult for others.
Infection risks aside, being pregnant during a pandemic is no walk in the park. I can say this because I currently am. And, I’ll be honest, it’s been hard.
Not only do we have to deal with taking heightened measures to stay safe and healthy for our unborn children and ourselves, but we also are forced to go through this experience during one of the loneliest times of our lives. Never could I have imagined that my first pregnancy would be like this; barely seeing any of my family or friends, wearing a mask constantly (even when I feel out of breath for no reason), going to all of my fertility and OB/GYN appointments alone (even ultrasounds!), staying holed up in my apartment, etc. It sucks! And it’s hard to make difficult decisions that not everyone understands.
We also have to worry about all of the same things that everyone else does, like whether or not Joe Schmo at the grocery store who has been wearing the same unwashed mask for a month is COVID positive.
While much of my current lifestyle is based on choices I have made for myself and my family (and I understand that others may not agree or desire to do the same), it doesn’t change the fact that the current state of the world has made what is supposed to be an exciting time of life a bit more difficult than I’d have liked. One could say it’s the worst time for me to be having a baby, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. After all, this has been a long time coming.
Tips to Survive Your Pregnancy During COVID-19
One of my biggest struggles with being pregnant during a pandemic is feeling a lack of connectivity with my loved ones; wanting to share this exciting time in my life but being limited to texts, phone calls, and the occasional FaceTime video. I also have a hard time with the fear of what could happen if I actually got infected with COVID-19 while expecting.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to take care of ourselves during this difficult time.
1. Have an open conversation with your OB/GYN.
Why? Because that’s what they’re there for!
The thing is that no one knows how to navigate this weird time, let alone those of us carrying a human in our belly. We aren’t SUPPOSED to know how new viruses will affect our bodies and our babies, nor what labor and delivery will be like when our due date arrives.
We’ve got labs, OB visits, ultrasounds, and delivery to look forward to. And at this point, you’re probably aware that these all look pretty different from the norm. [At the time of this article, January 2021] Regular visits are now as virtual as possible. Labs and ultrasounds are attended solo, without partners. In many cases, deliveries are with a mask on and with one support person by your side (who can’t leave the hospital once they arrive). At one point, poor mamas were birthing alone. Nothing is right. And you aren’t wrong for really feeling the burden of that.
In addition to the changes, it’s hard to know how to navigate pandemic life when your body is changing in so many ways – possibly for the first time. That’s where your OB/GYN comes in.
Ask. All. The. Questions.
I mean it! You’ve got a question, and he or she will have to do her best to answer it.
Be sure to understand all of the hospital and practice policies long before you’re due to labor so nothing comes as a surprise. Get honest input on whether getting vaccinated is right for you. Ask for recommendations on being tested, quarantining when necessary, and what situations you should/n’t expose yourself to. With their guidance, you’ll be armed with tools that should ease any nerves or discomfort you may be feeling.
2. Exercise regularly.
I know this sounds impossible when gyms are opening and closing as states lift and then reinstate restrictions. And, let’s be honest, gyms can feel like a yucky cesspool of infection that you most definitely want to avoid if you’re expecting. BUT, when your body is right, your mind is right. And your body needs to be right when you are pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. That’s five 30-minute workouts a week.
Exercise is known to improve depression and anxiety, which are unfortunately felt across the globe due to the pandemic. Exercising regularly releases feel-good endorphins which can boost your well-being and distract you from any negative feelings you may have. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, confused, scared, or lonely because of everything going on in the world, a little exercise would do you some good mentally and physically.
Now, these 30-minute workouts do not need to be high-intensity sessions that get you out of breath and sweating buckets. On the contrary, while pregnant, you should be particularly careful in terms of the types of workouts you do depending on your previous experience. If you are not used to working out prior to carrying, these sessions can be as simple as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, all of which are low impact and safe for baby. And, most of these can be done without a gym membership. I purchased a spinning bike at the very beginning of the pandemic and it has easily been the greatest investment I could have made.
3. Protect Yourself From COVID-19
It’s been a year since all of this started. So, by now we know that quarantining and complete self-isolation are virtually impossible. At first (when we had no idea how long this would last), maybe. But now… many of us have had to return to life as we know it to some extent.
Follow these tips to stay protect yourself from the virus:
- Social distance to the best of your ability. If you plan to be around others, maintain six feet of space between each household and wear your masks. Limit the number of people per gathering according to your state’s restrictions (and your comfort level).
- Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you leave your home and come into contact with others or frequently touched public spaces and items (like door handles, elevator buttons, and grocery carts).
- Wear your mask whenever you leave your home. In many states, this is a requirement. If it is not, and you feel unsafe, continue to wear one anyway.
- Minimize your outings. Limit your trips to the grocery store, avoid non-essential errands and opt for online ordering when you can. If you can get multiple tasks done in one fell swoop, do so.
- Set ground rules for your household. It’s important to discuss your expectations with those living under the same roof. This is because while you may be actively careful, they can still become infected and bring it home to you.
- Work from home if you can. If you can’t, ensure that your place of employment maintains safe, sanitary measures for its employees.
- Get tested and quarantine if you’ve had close contact or known exposure with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
4. Focus on what you can control, and let go of what you can’t.
With so much being completely out of our hands, I’ve learned that the greatest thing I can do for my mind (and thus, my pregnant body), is to concentrate on what I can control.
I can clean and sanitize my home, wear my mask, wash my hands, keep my distance from people outside of my household, exercise, and prepare for my baby. I can do nothing about the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the horrible death toll. I can’t stop my peers and neighbors from dining out all the time, not wearing their masks, or having gatherings that exceed state restrictions. I can’t control the sh*t show that is politics in 2020 and now 2021.
All of the things I can’t control are things that feed the anxiety, stress, and worries that I feel during this time, so why give them my attention when I can concentrate on me and my family?
5. Stay in touch with loved ones…
…especially the seniors in your life! Chances are they are feeling as lonely and isolated as you are, considering you’re both now considered to be at a higher risk of infection than others.
Part of tapping into and supporting your mental health is not allowing yourself to become a recluse due to this forced isolation we are all experiencing.
Taking the time to catch up with close friends and relatives is a great way to distract yourself and share this exciting stage of life you are in. Believe me, they are also really bummed that they haven’t seen you pregnant or felt that belly yet. If the best you can do is hop on a video call, do it! You’ll feel better and more connected.
Also, don’t shy away from sending those weekly updates. While you may feel like your parents or siblings couldn’t possibly care what size fruit your baby is this week, they do. And they appreciate being a part of your journey, even if it is limited.
6. Take care of your immune system
Now more than ever it is crucial to ensure that your immune system is in the best shape it can be. After all, your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against viruses like COVID-19, and are now eating and staying healthy for two!
A nutrient-rich diet, a good night’s sleep, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can help your immune system work effectively and efficiently. This means following a healthy (OB/GYN-approved) diet filled with vitamin C, antioxidants, and prebiotics, gaining weight as recommended by your provider, and not smoking or drinking.
This is not an easy time. You should know that you are not alone; women across the globe are finding out they are pregnant, or are making their way through their pregnancy, and feeling the same fears and concerns that you are. Stay strong, focus on yourself, adapt as needed, and stay in the know.
If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
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