I am writing this blog post in May 2020. Right now, the world is struggling to cope with the COVID19 pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on our health, society, economy, lives, minds, and mindsets. This is an intense time for everyone—especially people who are pregnant during COVID.
There are many unknowns for all of us right at the moment, and I imagine that feeling is even more intense for people as they near the end of pregnancy. The always heady questions of “What will my labor and birth be like?” “How will I and my family adjust?” “What’s going to happen?” “What will life look like in a week, month, three months?” are even more up in the air than they usually are. That’s hard to cope with, especially in the last few weeks. Plans for birth, postpartum support from family and friends, outings or trips as a family and much more have been totally upended. It sucks, it’s not fair, and I’m sorry your experience has to be this way.
There is no right or wrong way to feel right now. Bored, anxious, scared, confused, grumpy, angrry…all of these make perfect sense. Joyful, excited, impatient, and so ready to meet your baby? Yup. All of those and more in the course of a day…or maybe an hour? Normal.
However you may be feeling as you wait for your baby, you may be looking for things to do. I got you. Here are 9 ideas for things you can when you’re 9 months pregnant during the coronavirus pandemic. (Note: some of these activities may be better suited to first-time parents or parents of older kids, who may have more time and space. Getting this stuff in if you’re also taking care of a toddler is probably asking a lot, so take this with a grain of salt if you’re a toddler parent!)
1. Get Outside: Go for a hike, a bike ride, a walk around the block, or a long stroll in the park. Activity is so important during pregnancy, and sunshine and fresh air can make a giant difference for your mood. If you feel anxious about being around other people, maybe trek out to a more deserted area or a less populous neighborhood, if possible. If not, even a little bit of time in your yard or another outdoor area can do the trick.
2. Prepare for Postpartum: With all of the time you’ve recently spent at home, chances are you’ve had a chance to organize all of that baby stuff. But there’s much more to getting ready for the giant shift that awaits you other making sure the onesies are washed and folded, you know?
Cook some awesome freezer meals, make padsicles, set up a lactation station, familiarize yourself with your breast pump, have a talk with your partner or other support person about what you envision your postpartum time to be like and the support your might need. Whatever you end up doing, some mindful prep and planning during pregnancy will make a difference in your overall experience—I promise. (Note: if you want to get really real in prepping for postpartum, I do offer postpartum planning services).
3. Take A Zoom Class: Everyone lives on Zoom now, so of course that’s where you’d look for a class, right? There are so many amazing offerings for learning online. I have a list of childbirth, lactation and postpartum classes here on my blog, but there are tons more out there, including ones on nutrition, infant care, and more, at many price points. Learning can be a great way to stay busy and engaged at this stage of pregnancy, but I also want to say that if you’re just “done” with the endless stream of info, that’s completely understandable. Sometimes, the best thing to do at the end of pregnancy is just to be.
4. Pose For Some Socially-Distant Maternity Portraits: Many photographers are doing “front porch portraits,” where they photograph people on their porches from a safe distance. This is a cute idea for a maternity shoot. Others may be totally open to shooting you in other locations, as long as social distancing rules are followed. If you’re worried about virus exposure (or if it’s not in the budget), you can always put on an outfit that makes you feel pretty and set your partner or other support person up with a camera (or even an iPhone). You will never be sorry you took the time to get photos of yourself at this time of your life—mask and all!
5. Make A List of Local Resources: This is where all of the time you’ve been spending online can come in handy. Go on a deep Google dive and make yourself a list of all of the postpartum and baby/toddler resources in your local community. Think lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, support groups, classes, therapists, counselors, and more. Hint: local doula or parenting center websites are often great resources to find existing lists of this kind. You may not be able to utilize them in person right now, but knowing what’s out there in your area will still be helpful.
If a big list seems too overwhelming, just take time to jot down a few that seem like they would be especially helpful for you, based on your personality, background, and more. It can be a quick list on your phone, a detailed Word doc, or whatever works for you. If/when you need it, now you’ve got it!
6. Be Mindful: Mindfulness can be a powerful ally in parenthood, so beginning a mindfulness practice pregnancy is a great idea. And no, you don’t need to sit on a meditation cushion and get all “om,” either. Mindfulness can be as simple as becoming aware of your breath, zooming in on a detail and allowing yourself to fully notice it, or simply sitting and being present. GentleBirth and Expectful are two great apps that provide guided mindfulness and meditation sessions that are focused on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. To read more on mindfulness, check out an article I wrote on the subject on Parents.com.
7. Take A Day Trip: Get out of town! Ok, so don’t go that far…but it’s totally fine to take a quick trip to a fun place in your area. Got a beach, mountain, or awesome historical site (aka somewhere where you can be reasonably distant from other people) within about an hour’s drive? It could be a great distraction and a fun outing. Pack a picnic or pick up lunch from a fave restaurant, hit the road, explore, and enjoy.
8. Make Connections: Pregnancy can sometimes feel isolating, even without the mandated social isolation. Support and camaraderie from other new parents seriously makes a HUGE difference. It’s harder to do right now, when you can’t even see your friends or family, but there are ways to forge powerful connections now. There is a Facebook group just for parents of babies being born during the pandemic. Hospitals, parenting centers, and doulas nationwide are all offering virtual support groups. Postpartum Support International, too, is offering a host of online perinatal support groups.
9. Ground Yourself In Your Body: It’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of news, information, worry and stress at this time—not to mention everything else you may be feeling as you wait for labor and birth. It may seem a little silly, but giving yourself the opportunity for body love can be really powerful right now. After all, your body is the only home you—and your baby—have on this earth. Whenever possible, practice grounding yourself in your body and appreciating your physical form. Put your feet (preferably bare) on the floor or earth and breathe deeply. Put your hands on your belly and connect with your baby, talking to them out loud or in your head. Breathe down into your pelvis and uterus. Look in the mirror and notice how much your body has changed during pregnancy—the amazing changes that make you ready for lactation and newborn life. Do some prenatal yoga. Put on some favorite music and dance it out, fast or slow. Feel each vibration of your foot as you walk. Whatever you choose to do, send your body love. It is getting ready to do the big job of birth, so this awareness and appreciation can be potent right now. Practice and see where it takes you.