Pregnancy in a Pandemic
You could call it a ‘textbook’ pandemic pregnancy. The positive test came just 5 days before the first national lockdown. The excitement of a second baby was swiftly overtaken by worries, questions and concerns. As we announced our news, a chorus of friends and family repeated their predictions that by the due date, in mid-November, everything would be back to normal. But as time went by, those hopes were dashed. It was time to prepare for uncertainty.
It’s not surprising that pregnancy and birth anxiety is at an all-time high. The ever-changing restrictions and widespread whispers of ‘no birth partner’ and ‘fewer pain relief options’ have left people in limbo, unable to attend antenatal courses and uninformed about what they can realistically expect.
So how can you help yourself to regain enjoyment and reduce the ‘fear of the unknown’? As a ‘realistic hypnobirthing’ teacher, I know that there are only some aspects of pregnancy and birth that we can control. What can you do to feel ready for whatever the pandemic throws your way?
It’s difficult to prepare for your birth when future restrictions around your due date are unknown. However, there are some things that you can prepare, helping you to feel much more in control early on. Too early to pack a birth bag? Think again! It’s never too soon to start to decorate a nursery, research the car seat or batch cook freezer meals. All of this may sound simple, but when our brain feels organised with the smaller tasks ticked off, we can relax and focus, ready for the next challenge.
Relaxation in pregnancy can help your brain to de-clutter, but it can also help you during labour. ‘Hypnobirthing’ might conjure images of incense burning yoga mums humming to their bumps, but it’s actually useful for everyone – including birth partners! The most important thing is to check that your instructor aligns with your own values; some teach evidence-based strategies for pain relief; others practice the art of positivity to keep stress at bay. Don’t fancy a hypnobirthing course? Consider pregnancy relaxation classes, MP3s or have your partner learn some basic massage techniques for the head and shoulders. You deserve it!
Most hospitals now agree that one birth partner can be present for the duration of labour, so start to let them in on your wishes. Host a ‘birth planning’ date night, with an emphasis on what you’d like to happen, rather than what you definitely want. Your choices and options might change as you go along, so it’s best to have ideas of your dream scenario alongside a dose of open-mindedness for if things go ‘off plan’. Your birth partner will ideally act as your advocate during labour so sharing this with them will help you to relax. You can find a free birth plan template on my website.
Above all else, give yourself a break. Turn off the news, block out the ‘what ifs’ and take a deep breath. It might not seem like it right now, but you’ve got this mama.
Samantha Bevington is an antenatal instructor, hypnobirthing expert and mum. She runs evidence-based hypnobirthing classes online – www.samanthabevington.co.uk. Get 10% off courses when you book before the end of April with code TBS10.