Generally, pregnancy comes with its fair share of stress. However, it may be downright overwhelming in the midst of a pandemic. This means your expectant loved one requires your attention and support more than ever at this unprecedented time, especially if they’re managing pregnancy while helping their child with ASD navigate the constant pandemic fluctuations.
If you’re looking for ways to assist your pregnant loved one, Autism Vision of Colorado offers the following guide to help you understand how to support the mom-to-be in your life and protect the new baby during these interesting times.
Understand the risks.
It’s natural for a pregnant woman to be terrified during the pandemic, so it’s extremely important not to dismiss her fears out of turn. The fact is, there is much to be concerned about. Pregnant women have been classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the CDC — and for good reason. Not only that, there is an observable increase in both prenatal and perinatal stress, which has completely changed the experience of motherhood for most women.
How COVID-19 is currently impacting pregnant women and newborns varies and is continually being monitored by health authorities. However, one thing is for certain: Pregnant women and newborns must be protected against the virus. Staying home as much as possible is still the best course of action. Safety precautions must also be taken during and after birth by the mother, close family, and medical staff.
Their mental health matters.
It’s widely accepted that stress factors experienced by the mother during pregnancy can have lasting effects on the child’s mental health. With COVID-19 as an added stressor, there is, in fact, an increased potential for mental health challenges among children born during or after the pandemic. It is for this reason that experts believe that mental health should be a fundamental part of prenatal health, which includes giving mothers-to-be easy access to mental health resources.
And it doesn’t end there — perinatal mental health is also more important during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts anticipate that movement and socialization restrictions and the reduced access to support can be distressing to mothers. Women will likely also have various concerns about their own health and risks of infection, as well as that of their infants’ and other loved ones’.
What you can do.
Know that your expectant loved one will count on you more than ever during this period, so make sure you’re up for the task. At the most basic level, you want to make sure that she (and, by extension, the baby) stays healthy during the pregnancy. This means ensuring that she eats right, gets plenty of sleep and movement, keeps up with her vitamins and supplements, and receives sufficient care.
You also need to take a more active role in helping to preserve prenatal and perinatal mental health. For instance, partner support is proven to be essential in alleviating pregnancy stress. Keeping her comfortable at all times can be a simple yet very valuable way to help calm her fears and other emotions, as well.
It can be as easy and as thoughtful as helping her gather the necessary items she’ll need once the baby is born. For example, you can begin to help her stock up on items like diapers, wipes, nursing gear like a pump or comfortable bra, as well as find ways to minimize her stress through taking on responsibilities like cleaning the house, getting everything organized, and even preparing meals you can freeze for later.
Finally, don’t get complacent on safety precautions just yet. Mask up as much as possible and always wash or sanitize your hands. If you’re eligible or have access to any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, get yourself inoculated. Remember, it’s not only you you’re protecting by doing so — this is protection that extends to your newest and most vulnerable family member.
In conclusion, caring for expectant moms and newborns during the pandemic is an absolute necessity that loved ones need to take seriously. But with the right resources, as well as plenty of understanding, consideration, and TLC, it can be done. Ultimately, desperate times call for extra and special measures, so be prepared to provide them.