The impact of the corona pandemic has really reached deep into our hearts and homes.
Pregnant moms and expecting families have had to adjust their expectations of what is an already stressful time in terms of adapting to a new little life. However, these days we no longer have the few constants we thought we could hold onto. You can no longer simply pop out to the shops for some last-minute shopping or have a friend over for a cup of coffee and a venting session. We as individuals, families, communities, a nation and world, are essentially dealing with a loss. It’s a loss of our regular lives, our security, social and work lives and recreation. It is hard to believe this is our reality. It takes our minds some time to catch up. Here are some ideas to help during this unknown time.
- You don’t have to pretend you are okay. It may look like it from the outside, but no one has ‘got this’. It is okay to feel scared and confused. It is okay to be upset or angry or in denial. In this time, any and all emotions are valid. It is normal to go from thinking “everyone is over-reacting”, and “it’s not that bad” to paralysing fear and anxiety at the severity of what is happening in record time. Try to be compassionate towards yourself and give yourself grace to experience the ups and downs without judging yourself too harshly.
- Knowing what you can control. You can control hand washing, quarantining as far as possible, wearing a mask when out, and social distancing. You can’t control that the baby is coming despite the pandemic.
- Quarantine has brought some unexpected benefits. Try reshaping your thoughts into seeing them, and not just the negatives. After the baby is born, quarantine offers benefits perfectly suited to the sacred fourth trimester. Mom and baby together 24/7, Dad around more to help, no visitors to disturb breastfeeding, less pressure on Mom to ‘bounce back’.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about how to maximise family-centred care. Many midwives can move from planned hospital births to home or birth centre births. This reduces your exposure to hospitals, and you can avoid many of the hospital restrictions on visiting hours for your partner. If you are birthing in a hospital with a gynae, they will be able to guide you in terms of prophylactic testing so that your partner may be with you during the birth, or encourage earlier discharge from hospital. Policy and procedures are changing almost daily, so it is essential you keep in touch with your healthcare provider.
- It is a part of you and the baby’s story. Instead of deleting all the pictures of you and Dad in a mask holding Baby, embrace them! While it is still jarring to see family, friends and healthcare professionals in masks, it seems to be becoming our new normal. Being birthed in a pandemic will surely become a part of their journey and life story.
- Technology tools such a Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp calls are perfect for introducing your new baby safely to friends and family. It’s a great way to stay in touch and still maintain social distancing. There are even support groups online where you can meet moms in similar situations. Finding support in a time like this is essential.
- Cancellation of important events. many moms have had to deal with the disappointment of cancelled baby showers and pregnancy, birth, or new-born photo shoots. These are important rites of passage that many people look forward to. There are some great websites with tips and advice on how to have a drive-through baby shower, online get-togethers, or tips for taking your own photos until things settle down.
- Focus on physical well-being. Good eating habits, exercise (there are many online resources), and adequate sleep. Mental well-being is harder to achieve, but essential. Limit social media and news coverage, continue with activities that you enjoy and help you to relax, and keep up connections with friends and family.
Try not to wish this time away. It is a difficult situation that none of us prepared for, but welcoming a new little squishy remains one of the most special times in a family’s journey together. Reach out and know: this too shall pass!
by Guinevé de Jager (Midwife at Midwives Exclusive)