Pregnant in a Pandemic?
Navigating your first pregnancy is hard, and doing so during a worldwide pandemic comes with its own set of unique challenges. I've been fortunate enough to have a great support system of family and friends, but there were still things I wasn't prepared for. Luckily, I have used a variety of resources to help me deal with the unexpected.
When I found out I was pregnant in early May, I was ecstatic! The statewide lockdown had just ended, and I felt like things would start to go back to normal pretty soon. My mom bought me the book What to Expect When You're Expecting, and I started reading the early chapters right away. My doctor also gave me a book called Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month. I've read these two books steadily throughout my pregnancy, and I've asked my mom more questions than I did as a toddler (okay, maybe not that many, but somedays it feels like a lot!). These books also helped me form questions for my doctor and helped me prepare (somewhat) for the many changes my body would go through over the course of my pregnancy. If you're experiencing pregnancy for the first (or second, or third, or...) time, I highly recommend borrowing (from the library of course!) or purchasing a pregnancy book to help you navigate your journey.
I scheduled an early ultrasound to make sure everything was looking okay, and although we had to wear masks, my husband was allowed to attend the ultrasound with me. It was so neat seeing our little peanut on the ultrasound screen and realizing that, yes, I did have a little body growing in my belly!
I'm so glad I got to experience that moment because, as we all know, things did not go back to normal. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a pregnancy book that prepares you for pregnancy during a pandemic. There are too many unknowns to publish a comprehensive book on the subject, so I've had to learn how to navigate this new system in our COVID-ridden world. I attended my monthly doctor visits and had my anatomy ultrasound in late August. I was bitterly disappointed when I was told by the hospital staff that I could not bring any visitors with me to the ultrasound. My husband and I both wanted him to be there, but the hospital's safety precautions just wouldn't allow it. I texted him and sent him pictures during the whole visit so he wouldn't miss out on the whole thing - but it's definitely not the same as being there in person.
First-time mothers will often enroll in a birthing class prior to giving birth, but with extreme hospital measures and strict social distancing protocols - there aren't any in-person birthing classes right now. When I asked my doctor about classes, she suggested looking online for a virtual class and highly recommended I take one. So the hunt for a virtual birthing class began!
Here are some classes I found:
Lamaze: Lamaze offers a variety of online birthing classes. Most of them have a small fee attached, but there is a free class called "Labor Confidence with Lamaze". Lamaze also offers classes on breastfeeding, baby care, parenting, and pregnancy in general.
HypnoBirthing: This birthing method focuses on relaxation techniques that help women have natural births with less pain and tension. There are three instructors in the area - all located in Boise. You can use the instructor search feature on the website to reach out to an instructor for class offerings and fees.
Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic offers in-person classes in Wisconsin, but according to their website, they also have a virtual birthing class available for $50.
There are many other classes and techniques offered, but many of them were not available in this area. I focused on virtual-only and local classes to make sure I was sharing the best resources for you, our patrons. It's always a good idea to check with your doctor for recommendations, and see what is offered at your hospital, before choosing a class. I finally found a virtual class through the hospital I plan to deliver in - there was a cost for attending, but if you can find a class through your hospital, it's worth it. The staff in your local hospitals will give you a better idea of what your labor and delivery experience will be like, than someone from a class on the web. But, as with everything else this year, sometimes we have to deal with the options we are given.
This blog post just touches on part of the experiences of pregnancy during a pandemic. My most important advice for you is to find a network of support to help you navigate your pregnancy journey. It is a tough road to try to tackle on your own in normal times, during a pandemic - with stress levels elevated - it's even more challenging.
If you don't have a network of friends and family for support, try joining a virtual pregnancy support group. I have the app What to Expect downloaded on my phone so I can track my pregnancy journey. A bonus feature of this app is that when you create an account, you can sign up for a daily email feed from the What to Expect forum. All members of the site are grouped by the month they are due, and parents-to-be can post questions and engage with other members. It's a great way to connect with other people and know that you're not alone! You can also search for pregnancy support groups on Facebook, or talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor to point you in the right direction - they are there for you!
It's late November - just over a month away from my due date. I'm nervous and excited, and probably more unprepared than I realize, but I feel confident in the work I've done so far, as well as the support group I've surrounded myself with. If you need resources to help you with your pregnancy, make sure to ask your doctor for help. You can also ask a librarian for a great book recommendation or online resource to get you started.