As I write this, coronavirus cases in Wisconsin, where I live, are surging significantly for the first time. Experts have warned that the fall and winter could be a scary time for the virus in the United States. Indeed, we will have a second wave of the pandemic, and for some in the Northeast, that wave seems to have started. As we start to see cases rise (again in some states), public health orders could once again change our lifestyles. Health care institutions may change their practices once more. Prenatal care could look different, and support persons may be limited.
Because of this and the increased anxiety that comes along with living in a pandemic world, we at PALS wanted to give some quick reminders on how to keep you, your family, and that growing baby, safe.
1. Don’t let the fear of contracting COVID-19 prevent you from seeking prenatal care.
While it’s true that a pregnant woman is at greater risk of becoming more severely ill if they contract COVID-19, as they would with other respiratory illnesses, you shouldn’t forgo medical care just because you might contract the virus. For the most part, OB appointments are essential care. Most institutions are prioritizing them so that even if other appointments are restricted or changed to telemedicine visits, these ones are not. A few months ago, I spoke with Dr. Sharp, from the Hope After Loss clinic here in Madison, Wisconsin, about this very thing. Her words are worth repeating:
“Don’t be afraid of going into the medical system if you need something. If you are feeling like your baby’s movements are off, having a hesitancy to call or to get checked because of a concern for COVID, I would say that health care institutions and hospitals are making every effort they can to minimize risks of infection there. I wouldn’t want the fear of contracting COVID to ever be a barrier for somebody going in and getting the care that they need, or getting the check in they need, or going to their antenatal testing appointments.”
2. Pregnant women should be isolating as much as they can during this time.
The best thing you can do for you and your growing bundle is to protect yourself as much as possible. Wear a mask. Socially distance. Limit social exposures. Let someone else do the grocery shopping if possible. The more you can cocoon or isolate yourself, the better.
3. Ask your provider how to include your partner in your appointments.
It’s important to have an open dialogue about your prenatal care with your provider in a pregnancy after loss so they understand where you are at, physically and emotionally. This does not change because of the pandemic.
In the event that your medical clinic restricts support persons from coming along to appointments, there are ways to include them. If you are faced with heading to an appointment alone, please talk to your provider about what you can do to include your support person. You may be able to FaceTime during the appointment or have your partner participate by phone. If those options aren’t available or possible, you can try recording the appointment on your phone so that you can refer back to it if necessary.
4. Find a therapist to cope with the extra anxiety.
Pregnancy after loss is hard. Living through a pandemic is hard. Doing both at the same time is harder. If you don’t already have one, you may want to consider seeing a therapist to help you get through this time. They can provide coping mechanisms that will work for you and your family.
5. Remember you are not alone.
Even though we’re telling you to self-isolate to protect yourself as much as possible, you are not alone. There are many other courageous mamas like you going through a pregnancy after loss at this exact time. Feel free to join our online support groups. Find local mamas who can do a Zoom chat with you. Reach out to your regular line of support in all the ways we have to now that the pandemic is upon us. Just because we’re staying at home, it doesn’t mean we can’t be there for each other. We’re here for you at PALS. Let us help.