There seemed to be a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. But the new Delta variant is renewing anxiety and concern. Especially for those who are pregnant or who have young children who cannot yet be vaccinated. We’re still not out of the woods yet as the Delta variant causes cases to rise everywhere.
Added to this, partners are being limited in the support they can provide during doctor visits, particularly if there are older siblings at home and your partner needs to stay with them.
Whether you just found out you are pregnant or you’ve been pregnant for months already, it’s important to know how to keep yourself and your unborn child safe during the pandemic. We grasp to hope that some sense of normalcy will return soon. Until then, navigating the waters of the pandemic as a pregnant woman continues to not be easy.
Have A Continuous Discussion With Your Medical Provider
You likely have so many questions for your medical provider regarding COVID and how it may or may not impact your pregnancy. Should I get vaccinated? Could the vaccine cause something to happen to my pregnancy? Are there benefits to getting vaccinated while I am pregnant? What are the potential risks? I've had a previous pregnancy loss and am so scared of getting COVID and losing this baby, yet I am also afraid of getting the vaccine and having a reaction that also impacts my pregnancy. The anxiety abounds! Because of this, vaccination rates among pregnant women are incredibly low - approximately 23% as of August 2021 (source: Your Local Epidemiologist).
The good news is that information is being released sometimes daily and almost always on a weekly basis that is positive. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently updated their guidance to strongly recommend the mRNA vaccine for pregnant women (source: ACOG).
But I get it. This is all new. The changing recommendations are rapid. And keeping up is exhausting and anxiety producing!
So how can you best keep up with the information?
Check these sources periodically (a couple times a week max. Not everyday!)
Keep a list of questions for your provider and make sure they get answered at your regular check ups. Your provider knows your individual situation best and will be able to advise you individually.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Now more than ever during this pandemic, people's individual situations are changing. Some households are completely vaccinated, others are partially vaccinated. Keeping yourself safe is more important now than ever before. It is still very possible to contract COVID, even while pregnant. In fact, research has suggested that pregnant women may be at a greater risk of contracting it and could be at risk for preterm labor (Source: Your Local Epidemiologist).
One of the best things you can do is be as diligent as possible with your safety. Keep wearing a mask when you’re in public, social distance as much as possible, and try to avoid large gatherings. Wash your hands frequently, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself with plenty of rest. And talk with your provider about getting vaccinated while pregnant.
If certain activities, such as grocery shopping, are causing you marked distress and anxiety, consider utilizing other options such as grocery delivery or curbside pick up. I know, coming from a therapist, this may sound quite odd. But your concern and anxiety is not unfounded. And keeping your anxiety levels lower during pregnancy is very important. We have to remember that COVID is real and remains a risk if you are unvaccinated. Once your baby is here, then you can begin to work on reintegrating slowly back to life circa 2019.
Having a Plan in Place
One of the best ways to cope and manage anxiety is to have a plan in place. In fact, so often anxiety is peaked when planning and preparation efforts are not possible. Or when "best laid plans go awry."
When communicating with your medical provider, find out what rules/restrictions your hospital has in place currently. At the height of COVID in the summer of 2020, many hospitals weren’t allowing a support person/spouse/partner in the delivery room during the birth process. Things have changed, and most medical facilities recognize the importance of having someone there for emotional support during birth.
It’s normal to be a little “worried” about the ins and outs of your pregnancy and what to expect. Those worries may be even greater in light of the pandemic. But, it’s not an impossible situation to navigate if you’re willing to make a few adjustments and plan ahead as much as possible.
Managing the chronic stress associated with COVID is essential during pregnancy. If you find it challenging to do so on your own, therapy can really help!
We are living history and these are unprecedented times. I’m here to help you find some calm and joy in your pregnancy while finding ways to quiet the anxiety. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
To learn more about how counseling can help you during pregnancy, please click here.
BRINGING BABY HOME: A NEW PARENT WORKSHOP IS GOING VIRTUAL!!!! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Cranford, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.