Caring for Yourself During Lockdown

Guest Blog post by Jemma from Avalowa Pregnancy and Birth

Jemma runs Avalowa Pregnancy and Birth as a Doula and Birth Educator working in Plymouth and the surrounding areas. She completed her training with Relaxed Birth and Parenting based in Bristol and is registered with FEDANT.

Jemma is a firm believer that ‘Peace on Earth Begins with Birth’ and that everybody has a right to come into their parenting journey feeling strong, powerful and in control. Although Jemma supports women with all sorts of plans for their pregnancy and birth, she specialises in supporting women who have decided to make ‘against medical advice’ birth choices or have decided to freebirth.

Jemma advocates for a physiological approach to birth based on knowledge of how our bodies have evolved to function, and believes that the psychological impact of pregnancy and birth is equally important and deserving of attention. For her, the body and the mind are never so intricately linked as when a new life is being brought into the world. She believes that where the body and mind are equally nourished and cared for, parents can enter their new role with confidence and trust in themselves

Pregnancy & Motherhood during lockdown

If you are travelling through pregnancy during lockdown you may be feeling a lot of conflicting emotions as you draw closer to meeting your baby. The chances are that you flit between enjoying the lack of social commitments or enjoying time to reconnect with partners or older children and feeling unsure of what to expect in the coming weeks, confused about what birth options still remain open to you or nervous about what your postnatal time will look like during a pandemic and social distancing.

Maybe you’ve already had your baby. Even before the lockdown loneliness was reported as a problem in a British Red Cross survey by 8 out of 10 new mothers. Now social isolation is enforced and, although I’ve been that lonely new mother, it’s still difficult for me to imagine how having a newborn at this time must feel. The new rules may allow people to work and have hinted at a plan for schools opening up, but that doesn’t help when all you want to do is see your friends and family or start going to baby groups.

While you try to extend to yourself the same level of patience and understanding that you would give to someone else in your situation, I want to give you my five top tips for protecting your physical and emotional health while you are pregnant or caring for your newborn in lockdown.  

Get Your Fresh Air

At the start of the lockdown there was some confusion about whether pregnant women should be taking their exercise outside of the home or whether they were recommended to self isolate at home for 12 weeks. As long as you have not received a letter saying that you should stay in your home for twelve weeks, you are still able to take your exercise outdoors. And the new guidance says that you can do this as often as you like.

If you can get to any sort of green or wild area so much the better, because trees and the colour green are so good for our mental health. The sounds of breeze in the trees and birdsong is relaxing and reminds us that the world is still turning, and life goes on.

In terms of your physical health, walking while pregnant helps you to remain strong and fit which you will be very pleased about when the hard work of labour starts. Being upright and moving helps your baby to get themselves into the best position to be born. If your mobility is limited, the benefits of fresh air and being outdoors are still enormous. The air you breathe is being filtered through to your baby, if it’s good quality air among the trees so much the better!

Look for the Positives

While it is completely normal to experience a wide range of feelings at a time like this, try to set aside at least some of your time to think about the positive effects for you and to seek out positive stories from other pregnant or new parents.

Midwives and Health Visitors are reporting that babies are putting on weight faster after birth which is likely down to the opportunity during lockdown for more responsive feeding and close contact with their main caregivers. Sometimes when we have outside time pressures it can mean that feeding cues are missed or put on hold out of necessity, but lockdown is largely removing this element of life with a newborn. Other women are reporting fantastic, empowering births with minimal intervention at home which they may never have considered had they not been concerned about going into hospital during a pandemic. Others are finding friendship and support in other new mums on the hospital postnatal wards. Now that visitors are banned they are connecting with each other in ways that weren’t usually the case before.

Hope is so important for our mental health at time like this, so search for the positive stories.

Remember that you still have choices

We are all experiencing a lot of “not alloweds” right now. More than probably any of us ever have before. Remember that whatever the external situation, you still have the legal and moral right to decide which medical treatments and interventions you accept or decline. What happens to your body during pregnancy, labour and birth is up to you and if you feel that you are being coerced or pressured into a certain course of action, treatment or intervention using COVID-19 as an excuse then you have every right to get a second opinion or independent support.

We may not be allowed to travel, take our children to the park or visit friends -but we can still decide where we give birth, what pain relief to use, whether we want vaginal examinations and so on. You still deserve a respectful, individual and positive birth experience.

Embrace Your Bubble…

Everyone reacts to having a new baby differently but getting to know our new babies is the work we all have to do. For the first few weeks, try to embrace the bubble and get to know this brand new human. Be curious about them and be curious about yourself as a new parent. The lockdown gives an almost unprecedented opportunity to learn your baby’s rhythms and your own body’s capabilities postpartum without outside influences and time pressures (unless you are part of a culture which already respects the postnatal period as a time of recovery and quiet). Use it to help you to heal and recover and to fall in love with your new person.

…But Reach Out When You Want To

There will be times when you feel social. We are natural storytellers and you may feel the overwhelming need to share your birth story, introduce your baby to friends and family and just talk to other adults. This need for social connection is built into our DNA so you are not wrong or selfish to find social distancing really hard, especially at this time in your life.

Make use of the virtual baby groups, classes and coffee mornings that are happening online. Ask people to help with shopping or bring you a cooked meal and talk to them. There’s no need for them to come closer than 2m to you if you feel uncomfortable about that. You can stand at the door and they can stand outside the gate or down the road a bit. Just speaking to another adult in person and seeing someone’s face can make a huge difference.

Challenges and Opportunities, Disappointments and Hopes

The lockdown and pandemic is bringing with it challenges and opportunities, disappointments and hopes. You may experience all of these in the same day or even the same hour! Be gentle and accepting of yourself. Everything changes, the wheel turns and there are people on the end of a phone or a video call who are waiting to help you through the hard parts.

You can do it – because you are doing it.

Avalowa Pregnancy & Birth

For lots more information, and for the services that Jemma offers at Avalowa Pregnancy & Birth check out her

Little Devon Discount

Little Devon readers are also lucky enough to be able to receive a 10% discount off Avalowa Pregnancy & Birth services such as: Antenatal and Postnatal Doula; One-to-one pregnancy support; Birth partner preparation; Mother shower; and Charms & Childbirth – just mention Little Devon.

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