Pregnant in a pandemic

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When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was ecstatic. I remember thinking how fun the spring and summer would be—planning a trip to the shore, having barbecues with friends and going to Opening Day. I was definitely going to buy one of those maternity shirts that read “Future Rookie of the Year” or “Little Slugger.” 

This is not what I had in mind. 

Never in a million years did I think my first pregnancy would be in the middle of a pandemic, but here we are. Some of my doctor appointments have been switched to telehealth, but I still venture to Pennsylvania Hospital for monthly check ups. 

Being seven months pregnant amid a worldwide pandemic is a strange place to be. I thought around this time I would be attending birthing classes and shopping for a crib. Instead, I’m scared to leave my house. I sanitize my groceries and even my mail. 

I try not to think too far ahead, but can’t help to worry considering the current climate. How will my delivery be affected? Will there be enough hospital beds? Am I more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and if I do get infected, will that endanger my baby?

But as grim as things can seem sometimes, I am lucky. I am healthy. I am home. And I have discovered a network of women out there who are going through the same situation. There are many resources available for pregnant women and many local organizations have shifted their programs and classes to a digital platform, making them accessible during the coronavirus crisis. I have listed some local and national resources below. 

Also, with Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be an appropriate time to salute all of the amazing moms out there and especially the moms-to-be. It’s a scary time to be pregnant, and it’s certainly overwhelming, but eventually the world is going to rebound and recover—and until then, I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone… and neither are you. 

Local Resources

The City of Philadelphia’s Healthy Start program offers support and resources to pregnant women and new mothers. Case managers can help provide childbirth education, breastfeeding support, parenting classes, support groups and can help those in need obtain affordable healthcare. Many of the services provided are available via telephone or online. This program is available to pregnant women and parents with children 18 months and younger who live in the following ZIP codes: 19104, 19131, 19151, 19143, 19142, 19145, 19139. For information, call 215-386-1298 or visit phila.gov/programs/healthy-start.

Maternity Care Coalition has helped more than 100,000 families in the Philadelphia area since its inception. The organization offers a plethora of services — family support, gently used clothing and childbirth classes to name a few — and focuses specifically on neighborhoods with high poverty and health disparities. The organization is currently supplying free cribs to those in need, allowing families to give their babies a safe place to sleep. To be eligible, families must live in the Greater Philadelphia area and mothers must be within eight weeks of their due date or recently delivered their baby. To request a crib delivery, call 215-989-3589. For information on Maternity Care Coalition’s many other services, visit maternitycarecoalition.org.

The City of Philadelphia is distributing free baby food and diapers to families in need during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents are eligible and can pick up food and supplies at various sites throughout the city. Many sites require appointments, so those interested are encouraged to call ahead of time. A complete list of sites can be found at on the city’s website.  

Guide to Breastfeeding

Pacify offers information and advice from professional breastfeeding experts to help expecting and new mothers. Services are accessible through an app or also via web and are available in English and Spanish. Those interested can enter the enrollment code PHILLY at signup for free access. 

Seeking Support

Being pregnant during a pandemic can feel extremely isolating—especially considering Philadelphia’s stay-at-home order. Reading articles and researching specific questions can certainly be helpful, but being able to talk to someone going through a similar situation can provide a different — and much needed — type of relief and comfort. 

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has listed resources for online support groups gathered by the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. They are designed for new and expecting parents, and many focus on specific situations. For example, there are support groups offered for different age groups, demographics, high-risk pregnancies, working moms, postpartum dads and more. During pregnancy, social connection is vital. And while it is certainly challenging in today’s climate, these resources can help. 

For a list of online support groups, visit CHOP’s website

Staying Informed

Many health departments and organizations have compiled a wealth of information to help answer questions and ease anxieties that many pregnant women are currently experiencing. Below are credible sources that can help answer common questions for new and expecting mothers. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

National Perinatal Association

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Moms Rising

 

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