SALT LAKE CITY — Hey, mama. We know that welcoming a new baby into the family is already no easy task. As if the hormonal and weight changes weren’t enough, now you have the added stress of bringing home an infant amidst our generation’s greatest pandemic — COVID-19.
While you have every right to worry about this, we want to share some important information you should know regarding becoming a mom during this time. Hopefully, to give you some peace of mind.
You are not more susceptible to contracting the virus
Good news! Just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you’re more likely to contract the virus. Christina Han, a high-risk pregnancy expert, recently told ProPublica, "There’s no evidence that pregnant women are any more susceptible to COVID than the average healthy adult is." And while pregnant women do have changes in their bodies that can make them more at risk to other infections, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say this does not necessarily mean they are at higher risk to contract COVID-19.
The even better news is if you did have COVID-19, it’s not likely you’d be able to pass the disease along to your unborn baby (called vertical transmission). A study published on the National Institutes of Health website concludes that “based on limited data, there is no evidence for intrauterine transmission of COVID-19 from infected pregnant women to their fetuses.”
If you can, breastfeed
We’ve all heard that breast milk is one of the healthiest foods you could give your baby. Not only will it nourish and strengthen his or her tiny body, but it will provide your baby with the best form of defense against any illness. According to the CDC, it’s not yet known if the virus can be spread to infants through breast milk, “but the limited data available suggest this is not likely.”
Outside of the immediate postpartum setting, the CDC recommends that a mother with COVID-19 can breastfeed or feed expressed breast milk to her infant if she takes precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby, such as:
- Wear a mask while breastfeeding or expressing your breast milk
- Follow recommendations for propper pump machine cleaning
- When possible, ask a healthy caregiver who does not have COVID-19 to feed the expressed milk to the baby
Strengthen your immune system
While you can’t change the fact that everybody is at risk of contracting COVID-19, what you can control is how strong your own immune system is. Especially for pregnant women, you’ll want to make sure you are taking appropriate measures to keep your body healthy and strong. In addition to taking your pre- and post-post natal vitamins, there are several immune-boosting foods pregnant women should consider, including almonds, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods high in zinc.
Additionally, consider adding some lactogenic superfoods into your diet, which LoveMajka.com describes as foods that not only help you boost your immune system but can help increase your breastmilk as well. Some of these include oats, fennel, brewers yeast, and flax. If you need any recipe ideas, this lactation boosting sweet potato bread is one of my favorites.
Find ways to reduce stress
There have been multiple studies proving stress can be directly transmitted to your baby. I know it’s easy to be stressed right now but, if you can, do everything possible to keep your stress levels at a low. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your stress when you feel it arise:
1. Clean the house
This may sound strange, but cleaning can be one of the most stress-reducing activities you can do. Not only will it help you feel safer regarding the circumstances of the virus, but it keeps your mind busy enough to relax and creates a more comfortable sanctuary for you to live in. If your house is dirty, odds are you’ll probably feel more stressed out.
Unless restricted by your doctor, it’s perfectly safe and healthy for you to exercise while pregnant or breastfeeding. If your local government is asking you to stay home as much as possible, there are plenty of online workouts to try out. A few of my favorite workout apps include:
Additionally, due to the stay-at-home orders around the world, many people are offering free yoga and fitness classes via Instagram or Facebook Live. Ask around your community to find someone to practice a class with.
3. Meditation and breathwork
The quickest way I’ve found to quickly shift the mind out of stress is meditation or breathwork. Some breath techniques only take about 60 seconds to quickly shift your state of mind. Some of my favorite techniques, which you can find on YouTube, include: Breath of Fire, Alom Vilom, and humming bee breathing. Or, simply find 5 minutes a day to sit with the eyes closed, doing nothing. It’s amazing how quickly we can reduce stress and shift into a state of peace.
4. Find or ask for support
Finally, just know that you’re not alone in this, mama. There are over 1 million mothers expected to give birth to over 1 million babies this year, during this scary, unpredictable time. If you don’t already have a support group, such as family or close friends, then create one. There are other moms out there right now who are feeling alone and scared, and this is the time when we can all come together and support one another.