Quarantined might sound like an extreme word – but it really just means put in isolation. You could be isolated because of social distancing, infectious diseases, a suppressed immune system, or simply activity restriction that has you home all day. Whatever the case may be, isolation during pregnancy after loss can compound anxieties and heighten nerves.
What do we do? A lot of the same things we do to cope with pregnancy after loss anxiety more generally, but perhaps with a tweak here and there.
1. Line up your coping mechanisms.
Anxiety will happen. Maybe more than before you were quarantined. Be ready by reminding yourself of the coping mechanisms that work for you to calm your body and mind.
- Mantras can be powerful. Some of my favorites are “one day closer,” “most babies are born healthy,” and “this is a new pregnancy.”
- Breathing exercises can help when words fail us.
- Talk to your partner, your parent, your best friend – consider having a “distress word” that signals you really need them at that moment.
2. Try not to panic.
When things like activity restriction or quarantining become part of a pregnancy, it’s very easy for our minds to jump to the worst thing. The worst outcome. We’ve been there, so we know at a visceral level what might happen. The key word is might, not will.
- Being aware of risks does not increase your risk. It might be worth reading that one again, because it goes against how our brains are wired. Ignorance is bliss, and once we learn about new and scary things we tend to overemphasize them.
- Being aware of risks can decrease your risk. While some risks are unavoidable or immutable, others we have some control over. If it’s cold and flu season, there is a heightened risk of getting sick and we can take precautions to limit our exposure. Another example is learning symptoms we might brush off as typical pregnancy aches and pains could be more serious makes us a better advocate for our health care.
- Not every complication means death. For me, my first baby died. My only data point was death, so any inkling that something could be wrong had my emotional brain jumping to that conclusion. That isn’t how it works though. Something can go “wrong” and there can still be a positive outcome with this pregnancy. It’s difficult to convince our emotions of that, but it is true. The reason for your quarantine or isolation is not a guarantee that something bad will happen.
- Talk to your health care team. They will be able to best help you understand the risks of this pregnancy – both internal and external. If they aren’t giving you the answers you need, keep asking! You should feel comfortable asking questions about your condition and how to best prepare for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
3. Get some fresh air.
Being quarantined doesn’t usually mean you can’t step foot outside. The breeze and the sunshine can work wonders on your mood, and moderate activity is generally recommended in pregnancy. Nature is soothing for many of us in raw emotional states like grief and anxiety. If you feel cooped up because you need to keep a social distance, outdoor activities are a good option because the distance between people is large.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood
- Sit outside for a meal or a cup of tea
- Visit local parks – many have walking paths or other points of interest, and they are less likely to be crowded than popular tourist destinations
- Explore local hidden gems – Atlas Obscura has lots of interesting finds – maybe something you never knew was nearby!
4. Take advantage of the internet.
Nervous about how to get your errands done while quarantined? There are options! More and more of our needs can be met online, so take advantage.
- Grocery Shopping
- Ask your doctor about telemedicine options
- Do your research, but be wary of the source – when looking for pregnancy-related information, CDC, AAP, HHS Office of Women’s Health, and hospital-specific websites (e.g. Cleveland Clinic) are good places to start
5. Encourage healthy habits.
When pregnant after loss, self-care is baby-care. Sometimes we all just want a piece of chocolate and to lounge on the sofa, but it’s important to try to make that the exception, not the rule.
- When grocery shopping, make sure to include fruits and veggies that you like to eat – maybe even try some new ones or a local farm delivery service
- Wash your hands
- Get a nice lotion so your hands don’t get too dry from washing
- Follow an exercise routine or challenge (like this one) – even better if you can get other pregnant after loss moms to participate with you
6. Enjoy your distractions.
Isolation can mean long hours… which can turn to boredom… which can easily spiral into anxiety. Keep your mind busy with low-key activities.
- Read that book you’ve been meaning to (I recommend the newly-released Pregnancy After Loss Support: Love Letters to Moms Pregnant After Loss)
- If it’s holiday time, participate in the Remembering Together Ornament Swap
- Netflix binges
- Coloring books
- Knit or crochet (I made a lot of Obie blankets while pregnant after loss – it was a distraction and also a way to celebrate my son)
- Art subscription boxes (I want to try this one someday – SmartArt)
7. Ask for support.
Even isolated at home, you don’t have to do this alone. There are many people willing to reach out and help you, but they might just not know how.
- Texts, phone calls, and video chats can brighten the day – don’t be shy reaching out and requesting people check in with you!
- Virtual book club (or Netflix binge-watch club) can be a fun way to connect remotely
- Join online support groups like the PALS private Facebook groups
- Set up a support page from Give InKind to tell loved ones what you need