What to expect when you're expecting during a pandemic

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Being pregnant during COVID-19 adds a whole new layer of emotion and anxiety to the process. 

By Laura Dixon, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment | September 14, 2020

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Being pregnant with my first child is an experience like no other. I am filled with excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and so many questions. I have no idea what I am doing, and each day, as the kicks and movements grow stronger, I am reminded that the arrival is getting closer and closer. However, these feelings are really nothing new to first-time parents. What is new and different is being pregnant during a pandemic. Being pregnant during COVID-19 adds a whole new layer of emotion and anxiety to the process. 

My husband and I have been together for 13 years, married for 6, and last year finally decided it was time to expand our family, in addition to the dog and cat, that is. In January, I showed him the positive test and we were excited (ok, in shock and a bit frightened) for what October would bring. But then March came and the world shut down. I packed up my office, leaving my plants behind but thinking I would be back shortly, and headed home for the beginning of quarantine. 

As the pandemic grew, so did my belly. I received a phone call from my doctor letting me know that from here on out my husband couldn’t come to any of my appointments and, in fact, many of my appointments would transition to telemedicine. My parents, who live on the East Coast, had to cancel their flight out to visit their daughter carrying their first grandchild. My husband and I weren’t sure if we would be able to have a baby shower and celebrate with our friends who mean so much to us. I also began to realize I wouldn’t be able to experience many of the mundane things that go along with being pregnant, such as strangers making unnecessary but sweet comments about my size, coworkers sharing in my joy, or feeling strong and empowered as I continued taking classes at the gym throughout the pregnancy. 

As new information comes out daily in regard to the disease, so does guidance and recommendations for pregnant women and giving birth. Instead of succumbing to the additional stress and nervousness that could come with being pregnant during COVID, we are trying to take it all in stride and adjust as necessary. 

We have learned that I have to be in labor while wearing a mask, which frankly is not ideal, but not the worst thing either. My mother-in-law recently sent me a new mask with a fun print to help make it a bit more pleasant, and I am sure the pictures will be something to remember. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to have visitors in the hospital, but I am thankful that my husband can be with me the entire time, as well as a doula. We will be tested when we get to the hospital and hospital staff and doctors are all tested as well. So far, no labor and delivery staff at the hospital have tested positive, which is a big relief. I am also relieved to hear that breastfeeding is still encouraged and doesn’t appear to transmit COVID-19. I will be allowed to have my new baby stay in the room with me, have as much immediate skin-to-skin contact as I want, and won’t be denied any additional support to help us immediately following the birth. And, on the plus side, my husband is excited about the additional room service provided as it is discouraged to leave your own personal room at the hospital. 

As my due date gets closer, we are being cautious and limiting our interactions with others. We know we won’t be able to go visit family or have many visitors immediately following the birth either. We aren’t sure when, or if, our last remaining grandparents will be able to meet the newest great-grandchild. As sad as my husband and I are to miss out on many of the exciting moments of pregnancy, we are still hopeful for what is to come. With every growing kick of the baby, I understand their feeling of claustrophobia. But unlike me, in this pandemic which has no end in sight, this baby will be breaking free in a few very short weeks. 

To learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy, check out: https://covid19.colorado.gov/labor-delivery-and-breastfeeding