It is quite natural to worry a bit during pregnancy; there are so many wild cards involved in the process. But with the current pandemic, anxieties are shooting off the charts. Here are a few ways to care for your mental and emotional health.
Connect with Community
Pregnancy is a vulnerable time. A friend of mine, who has chosen to have a baby without a partner, is doing front yard visits to friends’ houses, staying at a safe distance, but benefitting from the face to face connection to her support system. Talk to family and friends about how you are feeling and the decisions you are facing. Online forums can be a good place to bounce ideas, but be careful about asking questions that would be better posed to your healthcare provider. Also, if you notice reading a forum compounds your fear or anxiety, maybe it’s not a good place to gather information. Ditch it and talk to your practitioner. Many birth centers are great about connecting new parents who are sharing a common experience. If there is one in your area, call to see if they are setting up online birth classes or sharing sessions. Talking with other parents going through similar struggles may help ease your worries and will certainly save you from isolation.
Claire Bettler, a Certified Nurse Midwife serving Albuquerque, NM, points out that in the best of times, most Moms experience a few low days in the weeks following the birth as hormones shift and the parents’ new normal sets in. Knowing that these days are likely to crop up, and that we are all more isolated as of late, she is encouraging her clients to make a plan now. Maybe that is when you call your girlfriends to come peek at the baby through the window and then visit from the front yard. Maybe you have family who can bring by a meal, or have your partner organize a zoom meeting with friends and family to share updates and a joke. Community has to look different now, but it is more important than ever.
Find your Zen
If you don’t have a mindfulness practice, now is a great time to establish one. Anxieties are intense at the moment. Most likely, you already have a series of disappointments to work through: a canceled baby shower, special people who can not attend the birth or travel to meet the baby, less support than you planned on after the birth… and on top of all that you are being vigilant about your exposure. You are handling a lot and growing a new person at the same time. You do deserve a medal! In lieu of an awards ceremony, give yourself the gift of a peaceful mind and a positive outlook. Your baby mostly needs You, and needs you to be in a place of calm from which to extend the love and care that helps baby feel safe and peaceful even in utero. Whether it is Yoga, meditation, a contemplative sit, prayers, or a quiet walk in nature, do something each day to nurture your soul and calm your mind. If you need help, there are mindfulness apps that can get you started and mindfulness classes on Yoga International.
Remember, women have been giving birth for millennia amidst all sorts of adverse circumstances (war, famine, drought, family feuds, lacking health care, the list goes on!) You can do this, Mama! Yes, there is a pandemic, but we humans were made to do hard things and you, Mama, are strong and resilient. Take a deep breath and find your way.
By A. Louise Yoder, a freelance writer raising three children in the high desert of New Mexico. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org