by Alisha Polsen – Psychologist
Pregnancy is a time of changing hormones and evolving relationships and can create feelings of anxiety or vulnerability. Pregnancy during COVID-19 may exacerbate the impacts of these experiences and support online is vital to stay connected and ensure the engagement in health practices to support the preparation for and birthing process as well as adjustment after birth to feel safe and connected, even if physically isolated.
Connections sought out by expectant parents for support and information, may be significantly impacted during this time of isolation and social distancing. Prenatal classes, being an example of this. Attended by many as a proactive health practice, prenatal classes prepare for birth and offer connection with other parents to be. Accessing online prenatal yoga/ birthing preparation classes and forums may be valuable to access during this time to promote the benefits of this experience while feeling safe at home.
There are many physical changes during pregnancy, and especially for first-time parents, there may be fear around what symptoms are normal. This is not just in relation to COVID-19 symptoms but also those markers that may indicate potential concerns in pregnancy in general. For example, swelling in the hands and feet. Being advised that this is a ‘normal’ symptom, however with fewer eyes on them during this pregnancy process, resulting from reduced OB visits or avoiding the GP clinic or not being able to attend their prenatal yoga, it may be hard to tell when this symptom is cause for concern.
Telehealth visual consultations online with your doctor at Concierge Doctors, between regular OB consultations in person, offers assessment of what needs further investigation and what doesn’t without unduly risking further exposure to COVID-19.
Hyper-vigilance to symptoms can exacerbate adrenal response resulting in breathing changes. When pregnancy gets to the stage of putting pressure on the diaphragm this experience, especially in a first pregnancy, may cause anxiety and further impact this symptom. A doctor and psychologist check in online can assess this and work through the anxiety symptoms to determine if medical treatment is needed.
Feeling safe in the delivery room, who will be allowed to be there, and potential risks to parents and infant are among some of the presenting concerns. Exploring resources and planning with the information we DO have at this stage, supports the neurological preparedness around the delivery process and safety precautions and expectations, to keep physiology in a calm state to support subsequent birthing outcomes.
Grief, loss and sadness may be experienced by expectant parents. There are many expectations we have around the rituals and processes of how pregnancy will look. Shopping for baby clothes, celebrating the impending arrival with our friends, not to mention the ability to share those first newborn moments with grandparents and extended family. Grieving the loss of these expected and often long awaited experiences is to be expected and it is ok to reach out online for support to address this grief and explore ways to adapt to our new environment in ways that continue to support the health of expecting parents and child.
These, amongst other presenting concerns during pregnancy and COVID-19 can be discussed in a safe and confidential space with me online to support the well-being of you and your family. Developing a plan to be prepared for revised pregnancy, delivery and postnatal considerations, supports physiological composure and subsequently a state conducive to supporting ease of this process.