You’re not alone if you’ve spent years building a picture in your head about what pregnancy will be like. The joy and amazement as you watch your body changing, having your nearest and dearest around you at your baby shower, meeting new friends at antenatal groups and going to the midwife for those all-important check-ups as your baby grows and develops.
Alongside these feelings of pride and happiness, it’s common to feel anxiety around your unborn baby. Over nine months there is a lot of time to think (and sometimes, worry) about what the future holds. Potential complications and concerns are bound to cross your mind from time to time; this is completely natural.
However, when we layer these perfectly normal worries with a pandemic, it’s hardly surprising that many pregnant women will be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety.
The lockdown measures have completely transformed our normal way of life in a matter of weeks. Along with the disappointment of social engagements, baby showers and gender reveals being cancelled, expectant mums are also facing the challenging prospect of going through some aspects of the pregnancy alone. Attending your first scan, or the time spent in the hospital after birth, are incredibly significant moments and the thought of doing it alone can be worrying.
These uncertain times mean that many expectations around pregnancy are being turned on their head. So, how can mums-to-be ensure this doesn’t lead to a build-up of stress and anxiety?
Stay (virtually) connected with friends and family
It is hugely disappointing when plans are cancelled at the best of times, but being unable to hold baby showers and family gatherings leading up to your due date can result in these happy and exciting times feeling a bit tainted. It’s vital to maintain social connections with others so you don’t feel like you’ve had to forfeit any celebrations during this time. Video calls are a great way to stay connected, whether that’s simply having a regular catch up with your mum or getting everyone together for a virtual party.
Plan for what you know
We’re in a situation we can’t control. To cope with anxiety around this, try and focus on the things you can manage, so you feel prepared and ready to get through these uncertain times. Whether that’s prepping your hospital bag early, to creating a relaxing birthing playlist, or making plans for if you have to stay in hospital overnight without your partner and how you will manage communicating the exciting news to friends and family.
Don’t let the news become overwhelming
There is heaps of information around COVID-19 available to us on social media, WhatsApp groups and news bulletins. On top of this, not all of it is trustworthy. Being overloaded with information during a crisis can feel extremely overwhelming. To help streamline which information you receive, try signing up to relevant updates, such as the Royal Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which is providing important updates for pregnant women.
The key to managing stress about the news is to reduce your exposure so that you’re not watching updates around the clock. Instead, limit your consumption to key times of the day, ensuring you safeguard periods of time to relax and switch off.
Make time to relax
It’s important to keep evenings free from distractions so you can unwind and promote good sleep – something you’ll need plenty of at this time! Try going to bed at a consistent time and limit screen time beforehand. What’s more, exercises such as meditation, deep breathing, or gentle stretching can help you feel grounded and keep anxiety at bay.
Build your network
When you fell pregnant, you may have envisioned attending antenatal classes and having the opportunity to build friendships with other expectant parents on this journey. However, if social distancing measures have put a stop to this, it doesn’t mean you need to forgo these valuable experiences – ask your midwife or doctor for advice on online antenatal courses, which will allow you to talk to other mums going through the same thing. Or, perhaps you could join online baby groups or chats in your local area?
These tips will help in dealing with short-term worries during your pregnancy, but if you’re struggling to manage any feelings of anxiety you can speak to someone for additional support. Online therapy can provide you with the guidance and advice you need to cope with how you’re feeling, all from the comfort of your own home.