Coronavirus: How to cope with stress and anxiety

It’s hard to keep calm when we hear and see so much information about the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) flashing across our televisions and social media channels. For so many families, these are stressful times. We are living through a public health emergency that is creating a lot of fear and anxiety. Moms and moms-to-be need special support to cope and to have good mental health.

The new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way daily life looks for all of us. Across the country, many leaders have taken action to help slow the spread of the virus. In some communities, this means closing businesses and schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state authorities have recommended avoiding social gatherings, that people stay home as much as they can and practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others) to help slow the spread of the disease.

These new restrictions and rules are changing your daily life. This can make you feel isolated or confused. For new moms, caring for a new baby while feeling sore, tired and stressed can be a lot to handle. If you are pregnant, you may have many questions. Perhaps you may wonder how your labor will look like now that hospitals are managing cases of COVID-19.  Or if you are able to get support from your partner, family member, or a doula while you are giving birth.

Tips for coping with stress

Here are some tips that may help you cope:

  • Get informed. Ask your prenatal care provider to answer all your questions regarding giving birth, your prenatal and postpartum care visits, or what you need to do before you take your newborn for regular checkups. Call the hospital where you are planning on giving birth and ask questions. Each hospital has different rules.
  • Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your baby. That’s why it’s important you go to all of your prenatal or postpartum checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Your provider can tell you what your prenatal and postpartum care will look like during this time. It may be a little different.  Some may be done virtually or by telehealth.  Contact your provider and ask how to get the right care for you during this time.
  • Keep a routine. Every day, take a shower, eat healthy foods and regular meals, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s sleep. 
  • Stay active. Exercise can help reduce stress. You can walk in a safe area or do exercise videos at home. Do 30 minutes on most or all days. 
  • Try relaxation activities. Some examples include prenatal yoga or meditation.
  • Take breaks from watching the news and going on social media. Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family and friends how you’re feeling.
  • Tell your provider if you feel very sad or depressed. Your provider may be able to help connect you with a social worker, counselor, or therapist who offers tele-therapy or mental health services online. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a NAMI HelpLine Coronavirus Information and Resources Guide.

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