How I coped with being pregnant during the pandemic
March 03, 2021
I found out I was pregnant on July 27, 2020.
My husband, Dylan, and I had never been so excited – after 11 years together, we were finally taking the next step in our journey as a couple and becoming parents. At that time, it appeared as though the global COVID-19 pandemic was slowing down – active case numbers were low, provincial restrictions were lifted and life was pretty much the same as it was before the pandemic (aside from the face masks, of course). Yes, we knew that COVID-19 was still here and could potentially be around for many months to come; however, many of the fears and anxieties we had in the spring were slowly disappearing as we saw case numbers decline.
Fast-forward to November 2020.
When active case numbers began skyrocketing again, I was four months pregnant. Dylan and I had only recently told our family, friends and co-workers our exciting news, but the reality of another impending lockdown was overshadowing much of our happiness. Although our federal and provincial governments had been warning us for months that we’d likely see another increase in cases as the weather got colder, I think a part of me was always hopeful and optimistic that it wouldn’t happen. But it did – and the fact that we would need to forego many of the things we were looking forward to in pregnancy, such as celebrating our baby shower or attending important appointments together, quickly became a reality.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience grief when the new restrictions were put into place. While I completely understand and appreciate the important role these restrictions play in our fight against COVID-19, I still felt sad and angry that I wouldn’t be able to share this special time with my family and friends (or so I thought at the time). As someone who works for a mental health organization, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of recognizing and addressing poor mental health – and I knew that in order to cope with being pregnant during the pandemic, I needed to find some effective ways to care for myself.
Here are some of the methods I used to cope with being pregnant during the pandemic:
1. Exercising and eating healthy. Despite not having any appetite in my first trimester (yuck, vegetables), I always made sure to eat small, healthy meals throughout the day – even if it was just apples and peanut butter. Doing so wasn’t always easy or appealing, especially when my brain was confident that ice cream, oranges and anything spicy (hello, Jalapeno Cheetos) was all I needed for sufficient nourishment; however, I know that my growing body appreciated my efforts to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet. Not only did eating healthy make me feel better physically by sustaining my energy throughout the day, but it also helped me maintain a positive mood and outlook. With everything going on in the world (in addition to the stress of being pregnant for the first time), I knew that eating healthy needed to be a priority for me.
I also worked hard to maintain a regular exercise routine, even when it felt like I had no extra energy to spare. Whether it was walking/running a 5km or doing a circuit with weights, I can confidently say that I never regretted one workout because I always felt mentally and physically better afterwards.
2. Keeping busy. I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an introvert who values spending relaxing time at home vs. going out and being busy. Boy, was I wrong! Turns out, I’ve learned that I’m someone who needs to be kept busy. Whether I’m cleaning the house, running errands or checking items off of my to-do list (such as decorating the nursery), I’ve realized throughout the pandemic that my mental health suffers when I have nothing going on. Keeping busy helps distract my mind from any negativity and stress surrounding me, while also providing me with a sense of achievement in my day.
3. Celebrating virtually. As I mentioned earlier, we knew that it was unlikely that we’d be able to enjoy an in-person baby shower with our family and friends – but we didn’t let that stop us from celebrating! My best friend offered to help plan, organize and host a virtual baby shower for us, and it was so, so much fun. And the best part? Because so many of our friends and family live out-of-town or work irregular hours, almost everyone was able to celebrate with us due to the virtual format. Although things looked a bit different than we originally envisioned, I’m so grateful that we were able to celebrate vs. having to postpone or cancel the event.
Today marks one month until my due date, and with each day that passes I’m getting more and more excited to meet our future addition – a baby boy! I know the pandemic is far from over, but I’m hopeful and optimistic that the end is approaching with our most vulnerable becoming vaccinated and case numbers decreasing at a steady rate. But until then, I plan to continue using the above coping methods to make sure I’m proactively taking care of my mental and physical health. I don’t want my memories of this time being negative or full of regret – instead, I plan to look back with pride on how I was able to conquer my grief and enjoy this special time despite the circumstances.
Photo credit: Dana Cole Photography