Absolutely Mama talks with doula and yoga teacher Erica Edmond about the best ways to cope with pregnancy in the pandemic
Erica Edmond is a doula and yoga teacher based in west London, who gave birth to her first daughter during the height of the global pandemic last year. From hypnobirthing to making new mama friends online, here she shares her top tips and advice for those coping with pregnancy in the pandemic.
Empower yourself with knowledge
As a doula, there is little I love more than seeing my clients empowered with the facts and information that they need to make their own informed and confident choices with regards to their care during pregnancy and birth.
Whilst this is always important, feeling informed of the options available to you, their benefits and risks, can help you to feel more in control of the situation during the pandemic and better able to make the right choices for you and to advocate for yourself. Particularly when there are restrictions in place in maternity care, such as perhaps your partner not being able to attend your scans with you or stay with you overnight after your birth, having this knowledge can be a confidence-booster in a vulnerable time. Practicing hypnobirthing or working with a doula are excellent ways of harnessing this knowledge and providing yourself with a safe space to ask questions, or there are plenty of great books to read, such as The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.
Find ways to share the little moments
One of the hardest aspects for me of being a new mother in the pandemic has been not being able to share this very special time with my family and friends who live on the opposite side of the country. Whilst we are all used to Zoom calls and FaceTimes, screen fatigue is real and it doesn’t help as much with the little day to day moments.
My husband and I set up a private Instagram account for our friends and family where we share photos, stories, and videos of our daughter most days. It helps everyone to feel connected to her and involved in her growth through the regular updates. We also like to send physical pictures in the post to relatives, and for Christmas, we gave my mum a digital photo frame filled with a huge slideshow of photographs of her baby granddaughter so she is always present in her home. Of course, none of these things are the same as physical contact, but they are little ways to cope with the distance that can help to tide us over until we can all meet again.
Self-care to the max
Of course, self-care is always important especially during pregnancy and the postnatal period, but it’s even more critical during the pandemic when we may feel more isolated. Self-care will look different to each of us, but taking a moment each day to do something nurturing just for you is so valuable. Whether that is putting together an especially nourishing breakfast for yourself, indulging in a warm candlelit bath, or even just taking five minutes to slow down your breathing and ground yourself in the present moment.
If you are a new parent and it feels hard to find the time for yourself, consider how you could make small moments into mini-meditations, such as during a feed or while out for a walk. Connecting with your breath costs nothing, can be done anywhere, and is my ultimate top tip for grounding yourself and slowing down.
Build your mama tribe
They say, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but that is easier said than done during a global pandemic, and our early days and months postnatally may not reflect the experience of playdates, baby classes, and regular visits from family and friends that many of us had envisaged. Apps like Peanut are fantastic for finding new and expectant mums in your area to connect with, share experiences and walk in the park with so that you can still make new friends and build a community of like-minded mamas around yourself.
Keep active and get in nature
Whilst it may seem hard to keep active when our movements are restricted, or we want to keep our distance and stay safe, there are still plenty of options available to us. The gentle and appropriate exercise was a saving grace for me during my pregnancy in lockdown, and I kept my fitness levels up by subscribing to prenatal classes online, of which there are many options to pick from, both free and paid. A regular daily walk during pregnancy and postnatally has been vital for my physical and mental health, and I love going for a stroll with my daughter and pointing out the different trees, flowers, and birds we walk past.
Getting out in nature is incredible for the soul if you have access to nature reserves, forests, or even city parks. If you feel open to it, standing on the earth in your bare feet for a moment, closing your eyes, placing your hands on your bump or holding your baby and taking a few mindful breaths is a phenomenal reset for the nervous system, grounding and connecting us to the earth and our babies, and reminding us of what is truly important.
Imagery: Nina Goks Photography