The first cases of the novel Coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, China, as a cluster of pneumonia on December 31st, 2019. It’s official; we’ve almost been dealing with this pandemic for a year. That’s a year’s worth of confusion, panic, anxiety, and depression on scales we’ve never seen before. Expecting mothers and new moms are among the most afflicted, and postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety rates have gone through the roof. Keep reading as we discuss pregnancy, birth, and postpartum depression during COVID-19.
Pregnancy During COVID-19
The first thing expecting moms should know is that they are more likely to need care in an ICU if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. It is essential that they follow the CDC’s safety guidelines such as wearing facemasks, social distancing, and frequently washing their hands. They should also make sure to stay healthy in other ways by maintaining a balanced diet and getting plenty of appropriate exercise. Another thing to note is that there are stricter guidelines for prenatal visits and ultrasounds in some places. Your partner may not be allowed at all, or you may be limited to only one guest.
Delivering During COVID-19
Delivering a baby under normal circumstances is stressful on its own but adding a global pandemic to the mix makes it downright terrifying. Since the first cases of COVID-19 showed up in the US, thousands of expecting moms have had to deliver their babies alone without the support of their partner or loved ones. In the US, one in four pregnancies already ends in miscarriage. Imagine having to go through this devasting time completely alone.
In response to women’s protests around the globe, most hospitals are easing restrictions, but most still only allow one guest to visit at a time. During this extremely sensitive time, the lack of mental and emotional support has led to postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety rates going through the roof.
Living with PPD During COVID-19
Postpartum depression does not discriminate; it can literally happen to anyone. The cause of PPD is not entirely known, but it is believed that certain genetic predispositions, certain environmental factors, and pre-existing mental illnesses play a huge factor. No matter the reason, be it COVID or just your genetic predisposition, dealing with PPD during the pandemic isn’t impossible, and it's time to break the stigma!
One way to cope is with therapy. Therapists and psychiatrists are still seeing patients at this time, and in fact, most are now offering telemedicine visits. Another way to cope is to connect digitally. You may not be able to visit friends and family like you usually would but talking on the phone and especially video chatting will strengthen your connections and grow your support network. Online support groups are also an excellent option to find women going through the same struggles as you.
Lifestyle changes can also help with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. One could be making healthy choices that include a nutritious diet, physical activity, and adequate rest. Another is setting realistic expectations for yourself and your recovery and making sure to make time for yourself. It’s not always all about the baby. Take time to do something you enjoy!
Research May Be an Option
If you or a loved one struggles with postpartum depression and the coping mechanisms listed above are not enough, medication may be the next best option. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you! Clinical trials are enrolling in South Houston, McAllen, and Lake Charles. Women who qualify and choose to participate could access a potential new treatment option at no cost, no insurance required. Compensation is also available for study-related time and travel.
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