Last summer, my husband and I were thrilled to discover I was pregnant. It was a pleasant shock as we had recently had some less-than-ideal fertility test results and had booked a fertility appointment to discuss possible IVF. But never, in our craziest dreams, did we think we’d be spending the last trimester stuck indoors, hiding away from the world.
Whilst I am extremely grateful, I have found pregnancy hard. Really hard. Instead of floating around with a radiant glow, I have sweated, farted and moaned my way throughout this pregnancy thanks to heartburn, difficulty breathing, insomnia, nausea, constipation, aches and pains, and mood swings.
Until recently, I was just about managing these unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy (which no one really tells you about FYI). All I really had to worry about was where the nearest toilet was, where my bottle of Gaviscon was and how to prevent too many early visitors post birth.
But then, the unthinkable happened. Coronavirus reached Europe and we went into lockdown. At the time, with less than a month to go until my due date, being pregnant suddenly felt really scary.
I’ve just about got my head round things now and as a couple, we decided to be as positive as possible – despite the apocalypse taking place just outside our front door. So here are some things I’ve been doing in order to get through the last few weeks of lockdown and pregnancy, hope you find them helpful!
This goes without saying: practice social distancing and proper handwashing. Stay away from supermarkets and busy places.
If possible and your due date is approaching like mine, try to get your partner to stay home as well and get your shopping delivered.
Don’t be scared to ask for help. If you look online, you will be able to find local community groups who can offer help in the form of volunteers.
Stay (Sensibly) Informed
If I were to believe all the conspiracy theories I’ve been reading on social media, I’d be a nervous wreck. Yes, the fear of having my baby alone has been real, but needless to say, don’t believe everything you read on Facebook and other platforms.
Get your information from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Your midwives will also be able to give you more up-to-date information regarding your hospital’s policies around labour and birth (bear in mind this may change from week to week).
Find Your Tribe
Our NCT course was moved online just days before lockdown started. We were so disappointed at not being able to meet other new parents in person. But you know what, despite being a bit bizarre, it was actually brilliant and we are forming a close bond with these people, even though we have never ‘properly’ met.
Make sure you have a tribe for post-birth too – including other new parents, friends and family. None of us are immune to postnatal depression, and it’s something to keep in mind given how isolated we will be. So don’t be afraid to ask for support and care, even if it can’t be given in person.
I haven’t been hugely energetic during pregnancy, but I do try to keep up with some gentle exercise. My weekly Pilates class and long walks in the park have now been replaced with online zoom Pilates and an hour-long walk in my local streets a few times a week, while avoiding people and tutting at any who come closer than 2 metres.
Women need to feel safe for labour to start; reading the news at 4am on your phone is not going to help you achieve that (some sage advice for myself there). So if you can, stop reading the news completely and spend your days doing lovely, oxytocin-fuelling activities instead (oxytocin is the ‘love’ hormone needed to kick start and advance labour).
Activities include things like massage, sex, watching comedies, reading, drawing, baking, sketching, looking at funny cat videos on YouTube – basically anything you enjoy doing.
Grief & Acceptance
While it’s important to be positive, it’s also OK to mourn the loss of the experience we thought we’d be having; the last few weeks as a couple (if you’re a first time mum), the activities we had planned for maternity leave, the friends and family we miss so badly. This is an impossibly difficult and stressful time (for all of us), so let’s acknowledge that and give ourselves permission to feel disappointment and grief.
And finally…do NOT let the bastard virus ruin the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Things are not ideal, but we can still find joy in the small things: washing and putting away baby clothes, discussing baby names, setting up the nursery and enjoying the comedy show that is sex in late pregnancy.
Good luck to all the parents-to-be out there, and if you have any other suggestions or tips, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.