By Lael Stone
In what should be the happiest time in a woman’s life, many pregnant women are reporting it’s a time of increased anxiety as they prepare to give birth during the Coronavirus pandemic.
With pre-natal classes now cancelled, and limits placed on the number of support people allowed in birthing suites, it’s not surprising that mums-to-be are feeling more anxious than normal.
But one thing that isn’t changing is that babies are going to keep being born! So, there are some simple things that mums-to-be can do to manage their pre-birth anxiety during the Covid-19 self-isolation period.
– Take it online
Online Learning is a wonderful alternative when expectant parents can no longer attend hospital or birthing classes, and we’ve seen a large increase in demand for online birth education classes since social distancing came into effect.
Parents-to-be can take comfort in the fact that there are now a number of credible online platforms like About Birth in which they can access information about labour and birth, as well as tools and resources to help parents to be welcome their little bundle of joy with confidence.
– Maintain connections
One of the advantages of living in the digital age is that we can maintain connections quite easily, even when we cannot currently see our friends and loved ones face to face.
Online forums and communities can be a wonderful way to still stay connected through this time, and they also provide the opportunity to speak to other pregnant women who are experiencing similar feelings.
Online tools like Zoom and Facebook also provide opportunities for connection, so get creative and schedule virtual coffee dates and regular catch-ups with friends and family. Inviting loved ones to check in regularly can also help women not feel so isolated.
– Lean of your partner
Partners are so important not only as a support person during the birth, but also in the lead-up to baby’s arrival.
Understanding that women can feel frightened, its important for partners to just listen to the fears, not try and fix it, but just give space for women to talk and process.
Use the time at home to really take the time to talk about your birth plan, and what your partner will need whilst in labour. For example, will she want to be massaged, will she want music? Ask the birthing woman, – what kind of support do you want? And here is a top tip – most women just want to feel loved and nurtured, so if you can bring the love – you are doing well.
Spend time together talking not only about the birth, but planning and preparing for once the baby comes.
– Practice mindfulness
It’s really important to try and stay as present as possible in each moment and each day. It’s easy to get caught up in the fear and the ‘what ifs’, but practicing some mindfulness can help to alleviate anxiety around the birth. Focus on what you do want. See yourself having a calm and supported experience, so when the fear hits, take a moment to close your eyes, tune into your baby and visualise a positive experience of holding your newborn baby in your arms.
Also, take the time to practice some simple deep breathing practices. Focus on deep breathing through your nose, in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts. Take time each day to put your feet up and rest, even if it’s for 30 minutes. Practicing your breathing and staying present can help your nervous system stay calm and relaxed.
Remember, that this enforced time at home may give couples a slower pace in which to prepare for this wonderful new part of their lives, so try not to let the anxiety overwhelm you.
Lael Stone is a Childbirth Educator and Co-Creator of About Birth, Australia’s leading online birth education program. About Birth is a comprehensive online birth education program, endorsed by doctors and midwives and created by childbirth educators. The self-paced program is delivered by video modules and downloadable resources and covers everything a couple needs to know about giving birth, including the stages of labour, support, breathing, massage, positions, drugs, interventions, breast-feeding and more. Find out more at www.aboutbirth.com.au
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