I don’t know about you, but I didn’t exactly plan to be heavily pregnant during a global pandemic. I found myself pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen the other day home-schooling my children. I did not see that coming. Like many of you, my life has drastically changed in the past few weeks and it is a huge adjustment.
Globally, we are all dealing with change, uncertainty and underlying stress. We are bombarded by the media and news, and our lives are fundamentally different to how they were a few weeks/months ago. It is a lot for anyone to deal with and like many, I am taking comfort from the fact that we are all in this together. This is a huge opportunity for us individually and collectively to take stock of our ways of life and focus on what really matters.
But I won’t lie, being pregnant adds a certain complexity to the current situation. I am 35 weeks pregnant and facing giving birth during lockdown with heightened restrictions in hospitals to ensure that our health care workers and hospitals are best placed to manage a potential influx of COVID-19 cases.
The logical part of my brain is completely cool with this, I support the bigger effort and I trust in the decisions of those amazing health care workers and know that not only my interests, but the broader community’s interests, are at stake.
This is also my third baby, I have done this twice before and whilst it definitely wasn’t easy, I believe in myself and my husband and know we can get through this all together.
But guess what, my logical brain isn’t always in action. The other side of my brain is screaming, “this sucks!”. The uncertainty, the change, the stress, the fears – these emotions are real and valid and it is totally cool for me to go to my bedroom and have a cry about this all. It’s cool for you to do that too.
I’m not going to go into the potential situation at the hospital for my birth as (a) I don’t want to stress anyone out and (b) the situation is literally changing daily, both at the hospital I will birth in, and in hospitals all around the world. My situation may well be very different to yours, and in a few weeks we may be dealing with completely new rules again. That’s part of the challenge to be honest, as I am a planner, and I like to know what’s ahead of me.
So rather than focus on what is going to happen in hospital, I would like to share a few things that I am doing to try to combat the stress and uncertainty of it all. I hope these are helpful for you.
- If you feel yourself getting upset or your brain running away on itself, that’s okay! Feel the emotion, it’s valid and it’s real. Acknowledge it, feel it and then try to let it go through some deep breathing (maybe after a good cry).
- Try to focus on the moment, and what is under your control. What are your tasks today? What’s for dinner? Stay present and try to bring yourself back to the now. I have done a few mindfulness courses and find mindfulness techniques helpful to do this. Yes, even with children around!
- Limit social media, the news, your phone, screens, scrolling. I am hopeless at this but I know for sure it contributes to my feelings of anxiety.
- Reach out to friends, family and your lead maternity carer and discuss your concerns.
- Get outside, exercise and get fresh air. Try to incorporate meditation daily if you can, even if it’s just some focused deep breathing. We are in lockdown but we can still go for local walks and goodness, I need them. I am keeping up my yoga and personal training through the wonders of the internet in my living room and getting out for a walk every day. This is critical for my physical and mental health.
- Focus on the elements of your birth and post-partum period that you can control. I am doing lots of reading on the first few weeks post partum to remind myself of those hazy newborn days and what to expect.
- Bond with your baby. Spend time each day breathing and connecting with that beautiful life growing inside you. Your baby is the most wonderful blessing and will be such a beautiful source of joy and hope in these crazy times. Connect, focus and show love to your baby and yourself.
Courtesy of Fran, from Franjos Kitchen.