Many women experience signs of anxiety throughout their pregnancy as this is a time of tremendous change, both physically and mentally. Having to go through these changes during a global pandemic has meant that sometimes this stress and anxiety can feel amplified. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you manage stress and anxiety throughout your pregnancy during a pandemic.
Coronavirus Pregnancy Guidelines
According to the NHS, there’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from Coronavirus. However, pregnant women were added to the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) at the beginning of the first lockdown as a precaution. This is because pregnant women can sometimes be more at risk from viruses like flu, even though it’s unclear if this happens with Coronavirus, it’s, therefore, safer to include pregnant women in this group as it is a new virus.
It’s been advised that you should stay at home as much as possible and follow social distancing guidelines by staying at least 3 steps away from other people, avoid anyone who has Coronavirus symptoms, and wear a mask during appointments and scans.
Although there’s no evidence that having Coronavirus affects how your baby develops during pregnancy, not being able to see loved ones during this time, can seriously impact mother-to-be’s mental health. Two-thirds of parents (68%) reported that their ability to cope with their pregnancy has been impacted by COVID-19 in a recent survey and almost 87% of parents said they felt more anxious as a result of COVID and lockdown.
Here’s our 5 top tips on managing anxiety during your pandemic pregnancy
Lack of human interaction has played a key role in growing anxiety for many people as a face-to-face conversation and staying social is crucial for our mental health. But having been advised to stay at home, and now that some midwife appointments are virtual, this is something you will have experienced less and less throughout lockdown.
Getting in touch with an understanding friend, family member, or work colleague can make a huge difference and allow you to talk through your worries with someone you trust. Talking to someone you can rely on about how you’re feeling can lift a ton of weight off your shoulders as they will be able to offer a new perspective and perhaps some solutions to your day-to-day worries.
Heads Together have some great suggestions where you can also find help if you need to speak to someone.
Limit Constant News Updates
Of course, it’s important to keep up to date with the government guidelines for pregnant women during lockdown but it’s important to monitor how often you’re watching the news, reading articles, and clicking on social media posts. Exposing yourself to too many news updates will only feed your anxiety, so try to focus only on what you need to know and make sure this is coming from reliable sources.
We recommend watching or reading the news in the morning and then turning your attention to other things throughout the day and trying to avoid any news exposure at least one hour before going to bed. This can put your mind at ease and improve your quality of sleep to keep those anxieties at bay and allow a good night’s sleep.
During pregnancy when you’re low on energy, it can be easy to forget about the importance of keeping active. However, exercise releases crucial endorphins that will boost your mood and relieve stress.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to an intense cardio class, simply trying some gentle exercises like going for a walk or pregnancy yoga can improve your mood and do wonders for you… and your baby too!
Here’s some pregnancy exercise inspiration.
Move Your Mind
As well as keeping active, you can find a release without working up a sweat. Practicing meditation and deep breathing exercises each day can help ease anxiety and be done from the comfort of your own home. Deep breathing provides more oxygen to your brain and stimulates the nervous system, this releases stress and can put your worries to rest.
Try beginning in a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Imagine each one of your muscles releasing tension and visualise your whole-body relaxing. As you breathe in, imagine the air circulating through your body, exhale and then repeat. Doing this for 10-20 minutes per day has been proven to not only reduce anxiety, but improve sleep quality, enhance immunity, and contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
Ask For Help
Pregnancy is a time where huge changes happen in your body, while some of these feelings and sensations are welcomed, others may cause you to worry. In a pandemic, these changes may feel heightened and it’s important to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way.
Nearly 4 in 10 women reported feeling concerned about receiving reliable pregnancy advice in lockdown so you may find it helpful to speak to your midwife about any anxieties or concerns you are having. They will be able to offer expert support and talk you through different treatment options that will work for you.
Visit Mind.org for more information and support for anxiety.