Pandemic Pregnancies: Parents-To-Be Navigate COVID Uncertainty
in the midst of a huge life change, parents see a ‘new normal’ when it comes to pregnancy, birth
In these unprecedented times, so many things have been canceled – some never to be rescheduled. In my own life, after the pandemic arrived, structure and consistency were suddenly gone. But as I look down at my belly that continues to grow, I realize there is one thing that can’t be cancelled or postponed: babies. Babies are going to come, during peace and during pandemics. And this baby in my belly is going to come in November, even if the world is still falling apart.
Missing routines, I poured myself into projects: I decluttered, I organized, I made freezer meals. I tried to control my house, since outside my house everything was out of control. But the turbulent world was still just as turbulent. During this second pregnancy of mine, I found myself with higher anxiety levels, questioning everything, and struggling with feelings of isolation. And I’m certainly not alone.
After chatting with several friends who had babies this year, I found that many of them had experienced emotional health struggles in the past few months. They experienced more anxiety, stressed about restrictions, faced numerous unanswered questions, and had more difficulty making decisions related to their pregnancies. Seven out of eight of my friends said they were somewhat or very worried about contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy.
During labor and delivery, they noticed differences as well: no visitors allowed, no doula (birth coach) allowed, only one support person allowed, they weren’t allowed to leave their hospital rooms, and their support person needed to wear a mask. And, if you’re having a baby in the next few months, I’m sorry to say that I can’t tell you exactly how things will look, as hospital policies change by the week.
Even after making it through the stress of pregnancy during a pandemic, there is the difficult decision of whom to allow to see the baby. Many parents said they struggled to decide who to let visit and for how long, whether to require masks in their homes, having less help, and feeling isolated from their community.
Having a baby is a bit bewildering this year. I have constantly questioned whether I’m being cautious enough about who I see and where I go, wanting to avoid contracting the virus.
Yet this pandemic has done something useful: It has reminded us that we are not in control. Maybe the beauty of life is not in grasping for control, but rather releasing it – and remembering there will always be the hope of new life.