Photo by @koleha
Congratulations on your pregnancy mama-to-be!
Maybe you have waited many months for this moment, maybe this new life moment has sprung up by surprise. Whichever road brought you to this point, you have lots of amazing changes to look forward to as you embark on a parenting journey that will outlast any pandemic!
Pregnancy is naturally an information-hungry time for all first time parents but when your journey coincides with COVID-19, your questions will understandably multiply to ensure you and your precious baby stay well and healthy.
Clearly DockATot is not a medical health resource, but we are fellow mamas and as such we are here to encourage you on your journey.
So here are our Top 7 Takeaways to help you enjoy your pregnant path…no matter what’s happening outside your nest.
Allay your Fears - Sort Fact from Fiction
During any pregnancy information is power and especially so during a pandemic. If you feel any fears arising during this time, it’s best to sort fact from fiction to help maintain a healthy perspective.
While health experts suggest pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they contract the virus compared to the general population, serve yourself well by staying up to date with the ever-evolving information.
To help you follow recommendations issued by our government and health officials, here are some go-to-sites with the low down…
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents from birth to 5 years of age.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regularly update their COIVID-19 statements to support pregnant women birthing during this unexpected season.
And remember, to be gentle on yourself…if you find the ‘noise’ of regular news updates trigger any anxiety for you, call in the help of a ‘friendly filter’. Ask your partner, a friend or your midwife to help give you the key takeaways so you can stay abreast with the facts without the noise.
In the meantime, these key takeaways from Dr Vijay Roach, President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, will hopefully settle any unwanted fears.
Dr Vijay says pregnant women should not be considered a vulnerable or at-risk group. “The information that we have so far is that most pregnant women that acquire COVID-19 actually don’t have a more severe illness, and often have very mild or no symptoms at all. We also know that for women who are trying to conceive or are in early pregnancy, the miscarriage rate is not increased."
So rest assured mama-to-be, pregnancy does not elevate your COVID-19 risk profile.
Gather Your People - Online Antenatal Support Crew
During your pregnancy, there is no reason why your normal care shouldn’t continue, some visits however might need to be conducted via Telehealth. Check in with your GP, midwife and/or obstetrician to see what alternative online health access they can provide to help reduce your need to go into their practices or offices.
In addition to your GP and hospital-based care, there are also many antenatal classes offered online. Both Nourish Baby and She Births offer high quality online courses specially designed for new parents with engaging and easy to understand antenatal and early parenting education.
In this unpredictable season, it is important to create and maintain a sense of calm. Hypno-Birthing Australia prepares birthing mamas and their partners with tools to grow in confidence and birth calmly.
With the miracle of life unfurling in your body, a woman’s motherhood journey begins months before the birth. Father in contrast don’t often change into ‘dad-gear’ or step into their new identity until their baby is in their arms. To help your man wrap his head around the changes ahead, Beer and Bubs is a dad’s guide to childbirth. These men-only gatherings have now stepped into a ‘virtual-pub’ to provide men with knowledge and tools to support you through birth and encourage them as new fathers.
So breathe easy mama-to-be, you are not alone. Your support people are either a Zoom call or 1.5m away…
Focus on the Miracle – Apps to Help Visualise your Baby
The growth of your baby is an unfurling miracle. Draw yourself away from the unpredictability and noise of COVID-19 by centring your focus on tracking your baby’s daily milestones with these amazing pregnancy apps…
Pregnancy App – this 5-star rated app is full of supportive tools including fully animated 3D models, growth milestones and daily advice regarding diet, exercise and labour and parenting.
Sprout App – this award-winning app lets you experience your baby’s world in never before seen detail. Real-to-life interactive movement, kicking and heartbeats will reassure you of the wonderful world growing inside you.
The Bump App - great for the woman who loves a list, this app provides a list of weekly to-dos plus weekly updates on baby’s development and decodes your pregnancy symptoms.
BUB by Lorinska Merrington - 'BUB - Pregnancy Companion' offers a highly sought after application that has it all. They discuss your new-born baby coming into the world, covering and discussing all things pregnancy including baby growth and health in this sophisticated and knowledgable 'friend' full of information. Developed by 'Lorinska Merrington' from Netflix's Yummy Mummies series, in collaboration with accredited midwives, nurses and other qualified professionals.
Beyond tracking you and your baby’s physical developments, Mind the Bump is a pregnancy app with a focus on mental wellbeing. Designed to help you stay calm, clear and connected, this app was developed by ‘Smiling Mind’ together with psychiatrists and psychologists who specialise in mindfulness meditation, mental health, perinatal health and online wellbeing.
So smile mama-to-be, try and enjoy this time while you and the rest of the world slows down with you.
Boost Your Immunity – ‘Eat The Rainbow’
Growing a little person puts exponential nutritional needs on your body which call for special nourishment.
At a time when public health is vital, it’s wise to boost your immunity through healthy eating. This idea is actually an ancient one which harks back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. His words point to how the nutrients in foods have healing properties.
According to The Australian Dietary Guidelines, consuming many different coloured fruits and vegetables offers your growing body a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. While all fruits and vegetables are nature’s gift to us in terms of nutrition and taste, each of them has unique health benefits. And the secret of their unique health properties is hidden in their colour.
Did you know that green coloured fruit and vegetables are generally rich in iron, vitamin K, C, E and folate? Iron builds placenta and supports oxygenated blood to growing bodies while the vitamins promote healthy growth of baby’s skin, eyes, bones etc. And purple/ blue fruits and vegetables are a treasure trove of antioxidants which I turn increase your immunity levels and prevent infections.
The health benefits sound good enough to prescribe right? Our bodies are also naturally designed to absorb the vitamins and minerals found in food compared to manufactured supplements. So eating a healthy spectrum of fresh food is the best way to support your growing baby and your body’s changing needs.
The Royal Women’s Hospital have set out a clear summary to help you develop healthy eating habits throughout your pregnancy.
Nourished Natural Health also has a great month by month eating guide to ensure your body has all it needs as your its physical demands change.
So mama-to-be, while your neighbours are all baking sourdough, take time to serve up colourful meals for yourself. Your body and baby will thank you.
Healthy Moves – Apps to Help you Exercise Safely at Home
Along with all the ‘Corona-baking’ (or maybe because of it), many of us have turned our living rooms into part-time gyms! Jump on any social media channel and you will be served up a platter of in-home exercise apps, but learning how to move safely and perform exercises that are appropriate to each stage of your pregnancy is super important.
Research shows that being physically active during pregnancy is beneficial for overall health and delivery-related outcomes. Some of these health benefits may include increased energy, less weight gain, reduced back and pelvic pain, lower risk of gestational diabetes and postnatal depression.
An exercise professional specialising in pregnancy, Mary Bacon, says “The benefits of being active right up until labour are huge; less back pain, better digestion and therefore less constipation and a minimised chance of sciatica.”
Physical Activity Australia recommends several specific exercises to maintain while pregnant and those to avoid. While access to gyms are unavailable, there are a swag of online workouts you can tap into get your endorphins flowing…
The Bloom Method app offers safe workouts designed by a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist. The workouts will increase your fitness levels for a stronger pregnancy and a faster postpartum recovery. The exercises will help prevent common pregnancy-related issues such as diastasis recti, pelvic floor incontinence and prolapse.
Fitness Mums To Follow
So mama-to-be, roll out your mat and get your big belly moves on. At minimum it will make you laugh and help you sleep well…
Sleep Like a Baby – and Help Balance Your Hormones
Pregnancy can take a real toll on your body as your hormones work to create and protect a new human. Your changing hormone levels can create mood swings, increase fatigue and disturb your sleep patterns. This is particularly so in the first and last trimesters when your hormonal levels experience steep and rapid changes.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, sleep in pregnancy is vital in regulating hormones, restoring emotional and physical wellbeing. As your pregnancy progresses, your sleep demands will change during each trimester. In the first trimester, progesterone levels start to increase which may cause excessive drowsiness but may also increase your need to pee which can disrupt sleep and worsen sleepiness.
Your hormone levels start to level out in the second trimester as do sleep patterns usually. Some women may however begin to experience heartburn as the uterus gets bigger and presses on the stomach causing a burning sensation. Sleeping on the left side with knees bents may relieve these symptoms. This position is generally recommended for all pregnant women as it may also improve the flow of blood and nutrients to the developing fetus and to your heart, uterus and kidneys.
In the third trimester your increasing belly size may cause back pain and make it general difficult to get comfy. Use pillows to help find a restful position, place one between the knees, a second under the belly and a third behind the back to support it. Avoid sleeping on your back because a heavy uterus can press on nerves in the spine and on a major vein (the inferior vena cava) that carries blood between the lower body and heart.
The Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) outline a clear list of ways to help you get the best body restoring sleep while pregnant. The list is so sensible it would make your nanna crack that ‘I-told-you-so’ smile!
If the emotional load of pregnancy is preventing you from catching some health-inducing zzzz’s, download Expectful, the meditation and sleep app designed to help you stay calm, clear and connected during pregnancy and parenthood.
Due to Covid-19 many of us are now enjoying greater work-life flexibility. People are even starting to put away their alarm clocks, dusting off their instincts and surrendering to their natural circadian rhythms. So you are in plenty of good company as you learn how to reset your self-care patterns to ensure you enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
So mama-to-be, relax, take a ‘nanna nap’ and let your body restore you while you doze…
Photo by Melissa Jean Babies of Jessiika Wilson
Embrace the Unexpected - The (Flexible!) Birth Plan
This pandemic has taken away many things but has left us with some clear and poignant realisations – that gratitude changes your attitude, there is much to learn when we welcome the unexpected and taking one day at a time is enough indeed!
These lessons will serve you particularly well in pregnancy (and parenthood!) as you will commonly find yourself in situations requiring surrender rather than control.
A article about birth plans in The Spot wisely spotlights ‘flexibility’ as the essential ingredient in any birth plan. The concept of a ‘birth plan’ is reframed by renaming it ‘birth preferences’. This shift in emphasis helps loosen our grip on a linear birth plan unfolding and brings us closer to the uncomfortable reality we all must face - especially when in uncharted pandemic waters – that control is an illusion.
Childbirth educator, Jen McLellan, crystallises the value in the birth plan process rather than the plan itself. “The power of a birth plan isn’t the actual plan, it’s the process of becoming educated about your options!”
Mama Natural has created a free visual birth plan template to download. Remember to print out two copies for your hospital bag – one for the midwife and one for you and your birth partner.
Retooling birth plans under the new variables of COVID-19 have seen many pregnant women engage a ‘virtual doula’ to create an extra layer of support and encouragement in case birth plans change unexpectedly. Doulas are professionally trained non-medical birth support people whose physical and emotional support have statistically proven to improve birth outcomes.
Both the Australian Doula College and the Doula Network offer virtual support classes and directories to find doulas in your local area. (We loved this tip from a doula…when going to hospital to give birth, bring a tripod for your phone so you can set it up and video call your doula handsfree when you need her support.)
Here are a couple of ideas worth noting and having a Plan B for….to help keep birthing women and their babies safe, hospitals are restricting the number of support people allowed in birthing suites to one only. (Please check in with your chosen hospital to understand their specific protocols.) Since hospitals are temperature checking patients and their support person, it’d be wise to have a backup support person in mind in case your first choice may not be admitted with you. A birthing mama will also have to rethink calling in the grandparents to look after older siblings during labour since the elderly are more at risk of the virus.
It is natural to feel anxious about uncertainty and not knowing how your birth will unfold, but I encourage you to take heart from these powerful words by Barbara Katz Rothman. “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength."
So mama-to-be, in this season of ‘unexpectedness’, breathe in and open yourself to that which we cannot control. You can emerge from this a stronger woman than the one you knew to be before.
Blessings from our Family to Yours
The ‘DockATot Family’ wish you and your partner well on your pregnancy journey. We trust this little list provides you with comfort and courage to enjoy a positive pregnancy, regardless of the news headlines! Blessings for a joyful birth.