September 7, 2020

Pregnancy in a global pandemic - blog by Aimee

Never in a million years did I think I’d be pregnant during a global pandemic – but here we are, 2020 the year that mixed things up for everyone!

At the start of lockdown I was very early on in my pregnancy and not many people knew I was expecting, not even my work colleagues. The government announced pregnant women are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and not to go into work unless absolutely necessary. This was right before the whole country went into ‘lockdown’. So the next day I spoke to my Line Manager and chose to stay at home and I haven’t seen the office since.

It’s ironic because this time last year I was studying a Master’s in Public Health and I had a module on health outbreaks/pandemics and I remember thinking to myself “this happens once in a blue moon” disregarding the relevance of the topic – and here we are not even 12 months later and this year’s students can’t even sit in that classroom anymore. It really just shows how the unexpected can happen!

My fears?

One of my biggest fears in these times is the uncertainty of it all. Will COVID-19 affect me or my loved ones? Will it affect me more if I am pregnant? Though I appreciate everyone, whether in perfect health or not, would have been anxious about an unfamiliar virus, it did leave more anxious than I expected it to. Before I was expecting I had no idea how my body would change in pregnancy (apart from the obvious big round belly). I didn’t think about my immune system and how this is weakened because my baby takes up all the good stuff. I wouldn’t have it any other way mind you, but I never thought how that would affect my own health. Then you hear everywhere you go about a new virus that nobody seems to know much about and the research/evidence on the impact of this in pregnancy is lacking! I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me fearful. Another fear, particularly as a first-time mum, is for when baby gets here and I don’t know what to do. I won’t always be able to get the help I need around me because of the virus. Luckily I know a lot of services have adapted to this and changed their ways of working to support people in need (including Early Break).

The impact on my work?

I guess this could also be classed as a fear, but I worry about the impact of my pregnancy on the young people I am working with. The service users of Early Break have already had to adapt to the changes in how we deliver a service, for example managing my phone/video calls rather than getting to see them face-to-face in school. They are going to have to manage some additional changes now, me temporarily leaving the service. They’ll be supported by another worker of course  (not that I don’t have faith in the abilities of my colleagues – they’re all amazing!) but there is a sense of guilt on how it’ll affect the people I am working with. Another impact on my work is that a lot of my work colleagues don’t know I’m pregnant (they might do now after reading this!) but mostly they don’t. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is missing connecting with my colleagues. Yes we see each other on video meetings and have phone calls but there is something about missing the human face-to-face catch up and conversations with others when just passing through the office.

What is helping me?

I saw on social media a pack for young people where they create a time capsule of memories around COVID-19, including drawings/pictures of them home schooling etc and I really liked this idea to capture the weird times we are all in. I bought a baby book to record our baby’s first years so I’ve been adding clippings from newspapers to it, to show our baby what life was like before/when they were born. It is surreal to think we’re living in an important part of history. Staying inside a lot of the time has also been difficult; the only time I am really leaving the house at the moment is for a midwife appointment. In work, I’m use to going out all the time to different schools, homes and so on. I know exercise can really help mental wellbeing so I’ve started pregnancy Pilates, something I’ve never tried before and I’m really enjoying it. I also get myself out on a social distancing walk when I can. Sometimes I try to keep my mind busy on things that aren’t related to COVID-19 or the baby so I don’t get too stressed or worried about things. At the moment I’ve been doing an online certificate which has been good for my own learning and development.

My advice to other expectant mums?

Whether you have a newborn or are expecting, I recommend creating a time capsule or some sort of memory book to show your baby what times were like; it’s something I’ve found really helpful! If you have children already it’s a great way to get them involved in something creative when everything gets a bit too much. There is also a lot of support on social media or through apps out there where you can connect with new/expectant mothers or you can learn about what to expect when baby arrives. Just scrolling through my social media I feel like I’m learning something new each day, though I’d be mindful of the credibility of the sources of information being shared (professional agencies usually have the best advice). It’s also really important you take time to look after yourself (something we should all do, baby or no baby) and practice some self-care. Though finally, the most importance advice I could give is to follow the guidance from the health professionals, your midwives and the Government around keeping yourself and baby safe!