*Information on the coronavirus is developing quickly. This post may become outdated. Please visit the CDC’s website or call MotherToBaby at 866-626-6847 to learn the newest information as it relates to pregnancy.
Are you freaking out about the novel coronavirus?
If you are, you’re not alone. Many people are having COVID-19-related anxiety and since you’re also responsible for a fetus, your worry may be doubled.
In this post, we’re sharing 15 tips on how to keep calm about coronavirus, even during pregnancy.
15 Ways to Keep Calm About COVID-19 During Pregnancy
Here’s what to do if you feel like COVID-19 is starting to affect your mental health.
#1 Have the Facts
If you are stressed about coronavirus 2019, it’s likely because you understand the pace it’s spreading, its health effects and how it’s affecting the economy. But do you know all the facts as they relate to pregnancy? Nobody does because there is little data for experts to base predictions on. But to stop catastrophizing about what the virus may mean for your baby, it can be helpful to learn what experts do and don’t know. Here’s the information we have as of the time of this writing:
- We don’t know yet how COVID-19 may affect pregnancy, birth, newborns or breastmilk.
- Pregnant women are more susceptible to viral respiratory infections in general. They may also experience more severe symptoms and outcomes when they get these infections.
- With similar viruses, such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, women were at an increased risk for severe illness and death.
- The GOOD NEWS is that limited information on COVID-19 suggests it can’t be transferred to a fetus. One small Chinese study found that infected patients gave birth to infection-free babies (all were delivered through C-Sections).
- The virus wasn’t passed on through breastmilk in the study, either.
- This study was done on third-trimester women, so how it affects women infected in the first or second trimester is even more unclear.
- Infected mothers will need to quarantine (including from the baby) until they’re better.
- Since it’s unclear how COVID-19 may affect pregnant women, some extra precautions are recommended by experts.
#2 Take Precautions
You’re probably already aware of the precautions you should be taking for your health, your baby’s health and that of everyone around you. But in case you haven’t, they’re so important it’s worth repeating.
- Wash Your Hands. Frequently but especially after sneezing, coughing or being in public.
- Physically Isolate. Only go out in public for essentials, such as groceries, medication or doctor’s appointments. If you can, have family members pick up groceries for you. Delivery is also an option in many areas.
- Don’t Travel. Stay home, but especially don’t travel. Even if you’re laid off, this isn’t time for a vacation.
- Monitor for Symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. They will outline the next steps.
- No Waiting Rooms. If you have an in-person doctor’s appointment, don’t go in early. Wait in your car or, if the weather and your health permit, take a short walk beforehand. Exceptions may be made if your doctor or the receptionist tells you otherwise.
- Outdoor distance. If you’re walking or jogging outside, keep at least 6 feet from you and other people, as per CDC recommendations. If you’re in a park where this isn’t possible, leave.
When self-isolating, stock up on everything you need for about a week. If you can, get another family member to grocery shop for you to minimize exposure. Purchase the staples or foods that can be stored in the pantry or freezer. Planning meals will ensure you have everything you need. As politicians and experts are instructing, do not hoard. While it may make you momentarily feel better, it puts vulnerable people at risk. For example, when a single mom finally gets money to spend on food, all the necessities could be gone because others overbought. There is enough to go around, but it’s difficult for retailers to keep up with the demand when many are buying more than they need.
#4 Focus on What You Can Control
One helpful tip for reducing anxiety is to pinpoint what you can and can’t control. Once you have your list, keep reminding yourself of it every time you feel panic set in. We’ll make it easy: The three points above this tip is what you can control. Here’s what you can’t control:
- Whether others listen to the CDC recommendations
- Whether other people hoard
- Other people’s opinions about the virus or their political persuasion
- The impact on the economy or personal finances
- The job losses or layoffs
Basically, you can control yourself and your own actions. No amount of worrying is going to control others or the virus itself.
#5 Connect Online
Perhaps the more accurate phrase for “social distancing” is “physical distancing.” Just because you can’t go to your prenatal class doesn’t mean you can’t connect with other moms. Make use of pregnancy forums. You can also download friend-making apps, such as Bumble BFF or Peanut, which is specifically made for moms.
#6 Ask for Support
Don’t be afraid to ask for support where you need it. Many people need it during this time, especially during pregnancy. Ask family members or friends to pick up groceries and leave them by your door. If you need medication, ask someone to pick it up. If everyone is back to work but you’re at a higher risk because you’re pregnant, ask for accommodations. If you’ve been laid off and government financial support isn’t enough, if you have a family member who’s in a position to lend you money, don’t be ashamed to ask.
#7 Ask for Televisits (When Appropriate)
If your check-up isn’t urgent, your doctor or midwife may move it to a call or video appointment. This is because crowded waiting rooms can be a hub to pass on germs. Knowing you’re taking an extra step to avoid people can help reduce anxiety. Of course, even if it’s not urgent, if you need a test like an ultrasound, you’ll need to go in-person.
#8 Use Self-Monitoring Tools
Between or during calls or video chat check-ups, you can make use of self-monitoring tools. These can help give you a sense of control over your health, but they do not replace appointments. You can share results with your doctor during tell visits without having to see them in person. One option is a blood pressure cuff, which can alert you of high blood pressure. Since hypertension is a major cause of complications, this can be useful. The second tool is a fetal doppler, which allows you to affordably detect fetal heart rate (FHR) at home. You simply apply ultrasound gel on your belly and glide the probe. You can share it live over the phone with your doctor, or plug in a recorder and email them the file. They can let you know whether you’ve correctly identified your baby’s heartbeat and if it’s normal.
#9 Turn the News Off
Yes, you should be informed about the precautions you should take. And yes, you should know how the laws are changing around you so you can act in accordance. However, you don’t need to know every detail played on the repeated 24-hour news cycle. Check local government and the CDC’s website for updates.
#10 Limit Social Media
If all of your friends are displaying their panic on Facebook or Twitter and it’s affecting you, it’s okay to unplug for an hour, a day, a week or until this is over.
#11 Read Good News
It’s important to know the facts. But you can get a balanced view of the world by reading the good stories too. Your local news probably has featured stories about people buying others groceries, donating money, giving away medical masks, etc. This can help you feel a little less awful about these times.
#12 Do an Act of Kindness
Research shows that doing an act of kindness can reduce depression, produce endorphins and lower blood pressure and cortisol—a stress hormone. Here are some good deeds you can do from home:
- Buy Registry Item— If money allows, search a random name on Amazon’s baby registryand buy them something anonymously (make sure their due date is still to come).
- Buy Gift Cards— If money allows, when a family member picks up groceries, ask them to buy a grocery gift card and give it to someone who looks in need.
- Leave Reviews for Businesses— Local, small businesses really need some love right now!
- Leave Reviews for Entertainment— Write your favorite podcast, show or reporter a gratitude note.
- Gratitude Letters— Write a letter thanking someone in your life for just being in your life. Almost everyone could use a note like that right now.
- Donate— If money allows, get your partner to pick up extra groceries for a food bank.
All this time inside may make you feel like you need to be productive. Of course, if you’re in the nesting stages, go for it! But if you’re having trouble focusing, that’s totally normal. It’s okay to take time to just relax and unplug. That could mean reading a novel, taking an (uncrowded) walk, doing a craft, baking, watching TV or just napping.
#14 Baby Projects
Channel your nervous energy into something you can show your baby. Keeping busy may help distract you. For example:
- Isolation Photo Diary.Document each day in isolation with one picture you can show to your baby and make a photo album.
- Baby Letters.Write a letter to your baby each day you’re in isolation. This can be therapeutic, too.
- Fetal Doppler Diary.Each time you use your fetal doppler, get your partner to take a photo of the fetal heart rate display screen. After, put the photos in an album and label by day/week. You’ll notice that your baby’s heart rate increases and decreases throughout different stages.
#15 Professional Help
If you think you’re experiencing clinical anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor about the next steps you should take. Online counseling is available. For free resources, check out Pregnancy Chat: Ultimate List of 12 FREE Online Chats for Support. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website for an online chat.
Fetal heartbeat monitors are affordable devices you can use at home to hear your baby while she’s still in the womb. You can share the results with your doctor or midwife during appointment calls or video chats.
Self-Monitor During COVID-19 Using a Fetal Doppler. Get Yours Today.