“No two pregnancies are ever the same.”
That old saying feels especially true for mamas who will experience pregnancy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Any nerves you might already be feeling probably haven’t been helped by scary news stories about pregnancy and the pandemic. But while experts say that pregnancy and childbirth are likely to be quite a bit different for a while as we work to understand, contain and prevent the virus, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy and healthy pregnancy! Healthy babies have been delivered safely every day of the pandemic.
If you’re pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Experts strongly recommend social distancing while pregnant, as it’s the best way to avoid coming in contact with the virus. It's safer to go online with some events you might have been looking forward to — think virtual announcements and video chat baby showers!
- Don’t skip prenatal care! Talk to your health care provider about the extra steps they’re taking to keep you safe, and make sure you get to those appointments.
- If you’re an essential worker, learn your rights — and your employer’s responsibilities — and ask your obstetrician for written documentation of any accommodations you may need.
- Be mindful of your mental health. A “normal” pregnancy can be stressful enough even without the isolation and uncertainty of a pandemic pregnancy. Make sure you and your partner know the signs of postpartum anxiety and depression, and don’t be afraid to seek out help.
- Talk about your birth plan early, and prepare for the possibility that it may need to change, especially if you are giving birth at a hospital or birth center where policies may be revised as the COVID threat changes in your area.
- Because the virus is so new, researchers are constantly learning more about it. One hopeful piece of recent news: A study out of the UK indicates that even a mother who is positive for COVID-19 is unlikely to pass it to her baby, regardless of how the baby is delivered or fed.
Your pregnancy may even give you the opportunity to play a role in research that will benefit everyone, pregnant or not. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco are planning to track mothers and babies who are or may be COVID-positive in a research project that will follow patients for up to a year to learn more about their health outcomes. (Click here to sign up.) Many hospitals are also now routinely testing all pregnant patients for COVID-19, which is helping researchers learn more about its prevalence in the general population.
Looking for more resources? The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Nurse-Midwives and Harvard Medical School all have pages with information and resources about COVID-19 and pregnancy.
Pregnancy should be an exciting time! Together, we’ll get through this — and someday, you’ll get to tell your “pandemic baby” about the unique circumstances of their birth!