Pregnancy is a very special, unique time for a mum-to-be. But despite the excitement, it can also be filled with anxiety and discomfort in both expected and unexpected ways. With body changes, hormonal fluctuations and plummeting energy levels in the early stages, there’s no doubt about it - pregnancy can be really tough.
This is the case for women under normal circumstances, but Covid-19 has thrown up many new challenges for expectant mamas. With changing rules on maternity wards in hospitals, attending scans and appointments on their own and not having usual contact with friends and family, right now pregnant women may be in need of more support than usual.
As a GP I've been able to see first-hand how the pandemic has affected some of my patients. I would say from the conversations I've had the main worry that comes across is the uncertainty of the pregnancy journey. For many there is a fear of the unknown, not knowing what the birth will be like, if their partners will be able to attend and the fear of even going into a hospital at these times. At the peak of the virus partners or people of support were not allowed to accompany women to scans and routine antenatal appointments and in some circumstances not allowed at the birth. - Dr Tosin Sotubo, GP. @mindbodydoctor
These new challenges make it even more important to reach out to pregnant friends, colleagues and family members and offering consistent support during the Covid-19 pandemic. This support should be in alignment with her needs, which may change day-to-day.
With some help from our friends, including psychologists, doctors and our Founder Sophie Baron (who is currently in her third trimester!), we’ve put together a guide to help you support a mama-to-be during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Find ways to stay socially connectedNew lockdowns and constantly changing rules make normal face-to-face contact with pregnant friends difficult. But this doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch - you just have to get a bit more creative! Make an effort to keep in contact with your pregnant friend or colleague.
“It’s so weird that I’ll have gone a whole 9 months without seeing my family or closest friends from across the pond. But also, weirdly enough, I feel more connected to my loved ones there than ever, as the change of pace means that despite the time difference, I Facetime with everyone daily - and it’s become my lifeline! It’s nowhere near the same as seeing someone in real life, but I feel so grateful for the ability to connect digitally!” - Sophie Baron, Mamamade Founder
Mamamade Founder Sophie Baron with daughter Liba.
We’ve all forgotten to reply to a friend on WhatsApp before. Our lives are busy, and sometimes it happens - we get it. As we aren’t seeing people face-to-face as often, it can be easy to just assume that they’re okay because we haven’t heard from them. But making a conscious effort to reach out to a pregnant friend is more important than ever right now.
You may find that your pregnant friend doesn’t want to ask for help, but is feeling overwhelmed and stressed. By keeping the communication flowing, you’re keeping the door open by letting her know that you’re always there to support her.
You don’t have to spend hours on the phone every day to do this; a quick voice note, WhatsApp message or a handwritten note popped through her letterbox are all ways of letting your pregnant friend know you’re thinking of them.
For some women it has been the loss of social interaction that has been difficult, not being able to have that face to face connection with friends and family as much as they had expected has been tough and added to levels of anxiety.
Pregnancy should be a special time and it's so important that expectant mothers feel supported and know they can seek help when they need. More than ever friends, family members and loved ones need to add that extra level of care and support. That may be checking in on them more than usual, more frequent phone calls and being intentional about offering support and making this a special time for mums to be. - Dr Tosin Sotubo, GP. @mindbodydoctor
Ask them how you can support themThis may seem obvious, but so often we forget to ask, and assume we know what our friends want. We’re all different and needs vary from person to person, day to day. If you Ask your pregnant friend or colleague how you can best support them, they’ll probably tell you!
This may be grabbing some groceries, picking up older siblings from school or childcare, or just a phone call every now and again to keep her laughing throughout her pregnancy.
Be open, but not pushy
It's important to create a safe space where your friend can share how she's feeling: the good, the bad and the ugly! With pregnancy comes a whole host of bodily and emotional changes which will be completely new to a first-time expectant mum, and she may be wondering 'is this normal?'
By openly talking about your own personal experiences, you'll normalise what she's going through and will make it easier for her to share.
However, don't overstep the mark - discuss your own experiences, but don't push an expectant mum to discuss theirs if they're not comfortable doing so. Communicate openly, but respect her boundaries.
“If you talk openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings, it helps them feel more comfortable sharing their own. Being a safe space for pregnant friends and colleagues to express themselves is a real gift.” - Suzy Reading, psychologist. @suzyreading
Coordinate support with other friends
Sometimes it’s hard to give friends all of the support they need on your own, especially when your own life is busy. If you have a good group of friends, try to coordinate support so you’re all checking in on her frequently. It’s better to spread out interactions than for everybody to check in on one day, followed my month-long silence.
It’s something which is easy to overlook, but being aware of this will help your pregnant friend feel supported on a more frequent basis.
Small gifts & gestures
Put together a care package for your pregnant friend filled with all her favourite pampering products and (healthy!) goodies! Or, you can have her favourite flowers delivered to her home. Little luxuries go a long way!
Throw in goodies for the pregnant mama, some things which are personal to her but also some more generic items that all pregnant women would appreciate.
"If your friend is finding cooking too much of a strain, then perhaps make a few days worth of meals for them and deliver them to their house in great Deliveroo fashion, but with a cute card and some extra little goodies included." - Penny Jarrett, Wellness Coach. @pennybelle