Pregnancy During The Pandemic

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

HOW STRESS AFFECTS PREGNANCY

Meanwhile, couples who are deciding to have children anyway, despite Coronavirus, are under more stress than ever, and this can translate into problems during pregnancy, delivery and beyond. A study by the March of Dimes revealed that stress can cause a shortening of the cervix during pregnancy, increasing the risk of premature birth or miscarriage.

SHOULD WE WAIT IT OUT?

While every new mother suffers from some stress during pregnancy, the actual risks to the child vary by income, age and general health of the mother. Those conditions are compounded by Covid. Coming down with the virus during pregnancy is one of the biggest fears of both female and male clients. While it is not yet clear how exactly Covid will affect the unborn child, many couples are deciding to wait it out and start their families post-Covid. Older couples (30–40) may already feel pressure to begin the process and don’t want to postpone it. Couples who planned to start their family, or add a sibling, wonder if they will have the income to support a child, even after Covid.

FINANCIAL STRESS

Considering all the stresses of pregnancy, what perhaps weighs most heavily on a couple’s minds today is money. Can they afford to have a child in times of massive financial insecurity? Of all the stresses, income may actually be the most critical variable. Income alone seems to be associated with overall success of a pregnancy. Low income mothers are most at risk for chronic stress, even during good economic times. During Covid, many households have lost one or both wage earners to unemployment. The rates are higher among those with low paying jobs, like those in the service industries, the ones first cut during the pandemic. Economic insecurity threatens the ability to get good prenatal and postnatal care and takes an emotional toll on both parents, as well as the health of the child.

OLDER COUPLES MAY DO BETTER

Ironically, older mothers (35–45), who are at high risk during normal times, may actually do as well or better during the Pandemic, as compared with very young mothers, especially if they are highly educated. Even a 45-year-old mother with a bachelor’s degree or more has a 3.7% chance of giving birth to a cognitively disabled child, which is the same as that of a much younger woman with less education.

Reducing Stress

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash
  1. United we Stand. The more couples create a united front, communicate with each other and support one another, the better for everyone. Pregnancy outcomes are better when the husband takes an active and supportive role.
  2. Exercise, meditation, and guided imagery are known stress reducers. Engaging in creative projects also helps, as well as laughter. Lots of laughter! Try to find the humor in things, even if it’s “dark” humor. Soldiers in battle know the benefits of humor. Ask any veteran how they survived their deployment. They will tell you, humor and prayer.
  3. Avoid additional stressors. For some, this may require less time watching news or talking with irritating friends and family. Don’t create more stress. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.
  4. Be grateful for what you do have. Therapists will tell you that focusing on what you are grateful for, instead of on what you don’t have or resent improves your outlook on life and puts you in touch with what is really important — before, during, and after the Pandemic

CONCLUSION

Having a child is among the 10 most stressful events one encounters in life. The current Pandemic only adds to it. Younger couples have time and reason to wait it out before starting a family, whereas older couples may feel they are already losing time, and waiting for the Pandemic to end only creates more stress. However, they may actually be best positioned economically and psychologically to weather this stormy time. Alternative birthing options may also reduce the stress around hospital births. Financial security, supportive family, and good coping skills are essential. For some this may be the worst time, but for others it may be more manageable than they think.

I am a licensed MFT, Certified Jungian Analyst and published author and writer. I am interested in anything that affects humanity

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