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How to Manage the Stress of Being Pregnant During a Pandemic

May 29, 2020 - Dr. Elizabeth Mosier

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety over the past several months, especially among pregnant women. Pregnancy can be stressful at the best of times, and I know the new coronavirus has been causing my patients serious strain.

Dealing with worries about the risk of infection, vulnerable family and friends, work and finances, homeschooling, availability of supplies and cabin fever… you might feel like you're losing your mind.

Maintaining your normal routines are critical during this stressful time. Here are some helpful tips I recommend adding into your everyday routine to help manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables and water. While processed foods are shelf stable, they may not be the healthiest options. To help keep your kitchen stocked while also staying home as much as possible, use grocery delivery or consider designating a family member who does the shopping once a week. Lastly, don't forget your prenatal vitamin. Avoid supplements that boast "immune boosting" properties — most supplements are not evaluated for safety in pregnancy.

Get some exercise

Exercise is still important, even when you're staying at home. You can try at-home prenatal yoga or taking a walk outside.

Just because we are social distancing that doesn't mean you can't go outside — just make sure to avoid crowded locations. If the park you were hoping to go to looks too full, drive on to another spot. Always try to keep six feet between yourself and other active people, and make sure to empty your bladder before you go for that long walk since most public bathrooms are closed.

Set limits while working from home

If you are working from home, set physical and mental limits to avoid continuous work stress. All of us need to unplug and have "home" time, even when we've been home all day.

Have a designated work area and set time limits so you don't find yourself still at "work" at 9 p.m. And don't check emails after your work day has ended.

Don't forget that bedtime routine

No one can tackle the challenges we're currently facing when you are exhausted. Try to go to bed at a set time, and consider adding a reminder on your phone to help reinforce this.

Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed. Instead, read a book, take a walk, have a bath or shower, or get your partner to give you a massage to help you relax.

Put the "social" back in social distancing

Keep up with friends and family members via video calls, postcards or old-fashioned letters. Even though you're apart, you can play board games, video games, watch movies or cook the same meal together over video chat.

Checking in on others helps keep everyone's spirits up — including yours.

Make time for hobbies

Learning a new skill or starting a new project can give you a sense of accomplishment and break the limbo. At my house, we've been baking bread, trying new recipes and getting some Marie Kondo-inspired cleaning done.

Check in on yourself every day

If depression or anxiety is affecting you, remember that you are not alone and that we are here for you. If you are feeling hopeless or helpless, talk to your obstetrician or consider getting help by a mental health professional.

In addition, times of crisis can worsen abusive relationships, and pregnancy can also increase the risk of abuse. If you need help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline online or by calling 800.799.SAFE (7233), or consider telling your obstetrician.

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