When I found out I was pregnant during the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I can honestly say the emotions were like none that I had experienced during my previous pregnancies. Where there is often excitement mixed with some uncertainty, the uncertainty was multiplied this time. Add to that the fact that this was technically a geriatric pregnancy for me! The usual questions about what type of pre-natal vitamin is best and what car seat is most highly rated were replaced with fears about whether this virus could harm my baby during development, the safety of visiting restaurants and grocery stores and if I could continue working at my job where I normally have close contact with other individuals.
What about my older children? Would I choose to send them to school in-person or participate in group sports? Let me tell you there are no easy answers to those questions! I questioned my decisions and priorities literally every single day. I am grateful for an understanding husband and group of friends during this time. A solid support system is always important during pregnancy, but more than ever right now.
Do you know any mamas who are pregnant during the pandemic or have recently had a baby? Here are some ways you can support them!
Continue Checking On Her (even if you have to be creative with your checking in)
While I chose to limit many of my activities out of caution, I truly appreciate the friends who invited me to HouseParty chats, zoom Bible studies and virtual events. Personally, my feelings about attending in-person activities were all over the board (and change daily it feels like!), but please know that even if the individual is not comfortable attending in-person, taking the time to reach out with the invitation is still important! The fact that a mom is choosing to make safety a priority does not mean that she won’t miss those girls’ nights or feel a twinge of jealousy when she sees the socially-distanced patio happy hour pics on Insta. Even a text or call simply asking “How can I help?” can make a great difference to a mom’s mental health.
Think Outside The Box When It Comes To Gifting
Could you drop off a Starbucks drink and a bag of snacks on her porch? Grab that cute onesie you saw at Target and leave it in her mailbox with a note. If she is not comfortable with an in-person baby shower, could you host a virtual baby shower or gift card shower for her? Let her borrow that maternity dress that’s been in the back of your closet. If this is a close friend or family member, consider offering babysitting help or light house cleaning to give her a break (again, I realize everyone’s opinions on close contact differ right now). Freezer meals or a diaper drop are always good choices, too!
Respect and Validate Her Feelings
Loneliness and isolation are extremely common during pregnancy and postpartum, but can be even more devastating during a pandemic when many activities are restricted or cancelled. Pregnant mamas and moms who have recently given birth are among the most vulnerable in terms of emotional health right now. It’s normal for excitement about your baby’s arrival to be mixed with sadness about cancelling your babymoon and fears about COVID affecting your health and your baby’s health. The already out-of-control hormones of pregnancy are magnified with situations like wondering if your partner can be in the delivery room and having to tell grandparents they must quarantine for two weeks before visiting your newborn. A new mom or mom-to-be reaching out should be met with compassion and understanding! If you have different opinions about masks and social distancing than your friend, don’t let those interfere with being a support system for that person.
If you know someone who is pregnant or caring for an newborn during this pandemic, that mama is facing a multitude of complex emotions right now. Feelings of joy and uncertainly mixed with many unknowns. But while you may not be able to care for that person in the same traditional ways that you normally would, a listening ear and supportive word are always appreciated!