Premama’s Kaleigh FitzPatrick Harlow candidly weighs in on her pregnancy experience during the COVID-19 crisis, including her tips for managing each daily adjustment in stride.
As I embrace my third trimester, I know additional challenges coupled with excitement will arise daily. This is my first pregnancy, and every feeling is a novel one. From the little kicks, strong 1 AM punches to my pelvic floor (at least she is currently head down!), lower back aches, crying sporadically during Tiger King (followed by weird looks from my husband) and mainly the pregnancy brain coupled with exhaustion—it’s all new.
However, if told 8 months ago I would be pregnant with my first baby during one of the most pervasive global pandemics in history, located in one of the area’s most heavily impacted by the virus, I would have countered in disbelief. This is a challenge no one prepared us first-time pregnant women for, and it has placed all of my previously mentioned ‘woes’ in perspective. As we navigate this new dystopian-like reality, I’ve compiled my own lifestyle tips to maintain your senses and welcome each new day of social distancing with openness, gratitude and enthusiasm.
1. Limit Your News Media Intake
For most, information is fuel. We’re all constantly scrolling through news feeds to learn what’s happening next from the minute we wake up to the second we fall asleep. While I completely understand the importance of maintaining your awareness of current events, refreshing the COVID-19 dashboard by the minute will not help your body and mind relax. I’ve set new limits by allowing myself to check the news once in the morning and maybe once more in the evening. I’ll try to read just the headlines unless I see an article where the details are indispensably important to me (i.e. any changes to the policies in Obstetric Care).
With these policies changing every day, this has incurred much anxiety and stress among our pregnant community. Do your best to put the sole focus on what matters most right now: staying healthy and delivering your healthy baby. Binge watch a Netflix show, take a walk, read a new book, listen to music, play a board game you haven’t played in years, watch The Price is Right reruns-- Isn’t the Friends reunion happening soon?! Find your hypothetical beach... without a newspaper.
2. Daily or Nightly Meditation
Insomnia throughout pregnancy is a normal occurrence, especially in the third trimester. Tossing and turning with these new thoughts racing through my mind, I implemented a meditation practice by downloading the Expectful App on my phone. I love this app because it allows you to input your due date and listen to weekly meditations pertaining to where you are in your pregnancy (they even have sections for Fertility and Postpartum as well).
There are a lot of different options to select from in the App each week: from Emotional Awareness, to Deep Relaxation, Sleep Meditations, Walking Meditations, Connecting with Baby, Couples Meditations, and even Labor Preparation. You can also select from 5-minute, 10-minute or 20-minute increments. If an app doesn’t suit your fancy, your own visualization practice is also easily accessible. Taking a few minutes every morning, night or truly any time of day to place my focus on connecting inward has been tremendously helpful these past challenging weeks.
3. Control the Controllables
We are in the process of building a new home, and with that has come unforeseen construction delays with suppliers all impacted by the virus (currently quarantining with my husband at my in-law’s beach cottage even though it's still 30 degrees outside). Not being able to ‘nest’ setting up my baby girl’s nursery, or proceed with events such as my baby shower feels strange and is disappointing. These are normal feelings and it’s even OK to be upset for a little bit since we do have a lot of hormones raging right now.
However, in the grand scheme of all that is occurring in the world, these are all just extra societal ‘things’. Our newborn babies are not going to know if they are being cared for in a new nursery when they leave the hospital, or if a friend guessed their weight and birth date before their arrival. What matters most right now is staying healthy, eating healthy, taking your vitamins, drinking enough water, exercising daily, and getting quality sleep. Maintaining a schedule and controlling the daily events we can while taking the rest in stride makes all the difference. I’ve also heard a lot of women are hosting virtual baby showers, and websites like Web Baby Showers are making that easier (gotta’ love the internet).
4. Get to Prepping
I know my living circumstances above are a little unconventional, but most of us are practicing social distancing at our homes all day. This is a perfect time to align on a birth plan with your partner, reorganize the house, get the nursery ready, meal prep freezer meals for after delivery (this blog has awesome ideas), pack your hospital bag (I’m definitely using the Postpartum Essentials Kit by Frida Mom along with our own Lactation Support and Postnatal Vitamins) and understand your expectations after giving birth. My Labor + Delivery and Newborn Care + CPR courses via our hospital were all adjusted to virtual courses. If you have not signed up for yours, I suggest doing so as they are extremely informative and provide helpful guidance for you and your partner.
It’s also a great time to connect with your partner. We’re so used to going our separate ways every morning to the office, this new time of social isolation is also ample opportunity to enjoy moments together. Go for walks, plan a date night in, challenge your partner to attempt cooking a new meal if this is outside their comfort zone. Our lives are about to change forever, and while our babymoon’s may be canceled too, like I said above: find your hypothetical beach.
Facing unknowns in multiple ways between pregnancy and this crisis is not easy, but I hope you find the quick tips above helpful as we navigate together. I recently read the quote from pregnant writer Irin Carmon: “As for the being that is most depending on me, we’re both sheltering inside for now, and all I can really do is try to make the vehicle of her isolation a little more hospitable,” nothing has rung more true…