It’s important to prioritize your health and wellness as a mom, even though it seems that that is the easiest thing to struggle with. Being a mom is a constant balancing act of remembering everything for everyone while constantly adjusting to the changing needs of those you support. It’s no wonder health and wellness can be crucial components for living a better life. If your path to becoming a mom includes pregnancy, you might be wondering what surprises await you and how best to prepare for what’s ahead before your baby arrives.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
COVID-19 restrictions are impacting pregnant families so find out policies upfront.
Pregnancy during a pandemic can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. You are not alone if you feel like this time is stressful. In fact, an increasing number of studies are finding that pregnant and postpartum women are reporting high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic – including both concerns about their health and that of the children. COVID-19 restrictions and concerns can lead to missed appointments, additional stress, anxiety, and depression. During COVID-19, it’s important to make and keep prenatal and postpartum appointments with your health care provider.
Early support for mother and baby throughout their care journey and support for mother and child after birth is crucial. Pregnancy is more than a physical journey it’s a quest to mentally and emotionally believe you are doing the right thing and that you are enough. More conditions are impacting mothers other than postpartum depression and anxiety, which are traditionally brought up at appointments. Mothers are concerned about unemployment, vaccination requirements, and overcrowded daycares, on top of being quarantined in their homes and isolated from loved ones for weeks at a time. Racial disparities also persist in maternal outcomes, including severe maternal morbidity and mortality.
Low birthweight affects one in 12 (8%) of infants. These babies are at an increased risk for experiencing physical disabilities and developmental impairments throughout their lives. Risks are particularly high among black women, where the rate of preterm births is 49% higher than for all other races.
Nearly a quarter of women don’t initiate prenatal appointments starting in the first trimester. One of most proactive things you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy is scheduling a prenatal appointment as soon as you think or learn you are pregnant. At this first appointment, a health care expert will confirm the pregnancy and work to determine a healthy pregnancy plan.
This is a great time to ask questions, so make sure to write them down in advance of the appointment. You can use your phone to record voice notes and memos as well.
Birth is a major Olympic event; you need to take time and be monitored during your recovery. It’s important to see a doctor within one to six weeks after birth to ensure you are recovering properly physically and have the medical and emotional support you need. One of the benefits of the Midwifery model of care is you are seen quite a few times by your provider in the first 6 weeks postpartum.
Even during COVID-19, make sure to keep prenatal and postpartum appointments with your health care provider. They are critical to a healthy pregnancy for both mom and baby.
Healthcare providers may ask to use telehealth for some appointments which allows you to meet with them over a phone or computer. A benefit to telehealth is your support person can be included if they are not normally, and you can take your visit from anywhere in the world.
Other appointments will still need to take place in person. Health care facilities are taking extra steps to ensure a safe, clean environment. You can be proactive and help stay healthy during in-person visits by practicing social distancing, washing your hands often, and wearing a mask.
Pregnancy and having a new baby can feel overwhelming. Know that many people feel this way, and there are resources and programs that can help, from early in pregnancy all the way into the first years of baby’s life and beyond. A Doula is a trained professional who helps you navigate birth, postpartum, fertility, adoption, and even loss.
Use digital resources to your advantage.
Our phones are always in our hands, so why not use them to be productive? You can download an app to track pregnancy changes, exercise, water intake, notes for and from doctor appointments, contractions, breastfeeding, dirty diapers, and baby milestones, among many other uses.
Find programs that can help throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period, from providing prenatal vitamins and substance use support to safe supplies for the baby. Program offerings include information on access to free diapers, healthy foods, formula, breastfeeding supplies, car seats and sleeping options. Many of the programs can be found online, through your healthcare provider, and even your insurance company. Joining local or national mom groups on Facebook and signing up for events that connect you with local resources is a way to make new friends while staying connected.
UnitedHealthcare has developed a new online resource that includes a wide range of information and resources to support new moms as they take care of themselves and their babies, regardless of their financial situation. For more information and resources, visit www.everypregnancy.com.