Pregnancy is an exciting time, but COVID-19 restrictions and concerns can lead to missed appointments, additional stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, an increasing number of studies are finding that pregnant and postpartum women are reporting high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic – including both concerns about their health and that of the children.
While you may have a lot on your mind, it’s important to ensure you are supported early and throughout your care journey for a healthy pregnancy – including support for mother and child after birth. An important step to a healthy pregnancy is scheduling a prenatal appointment as soon as you think or learn you are pregnant. At this first appointment, a health care provider will confirm the pregnancy and work to determine a healthy pregnancy plan. This is a great time to ask questions – so make sure to write them down in advance of the appointment.
It’s also important to see a doctor within one to six weeks after birth to ensure you are recovering properly physically and have the medical and emotional support you need. Often mothers don’t see a health care provider until four to six weeks after childbirth, and as many as 40% of new moms do not attend a postpartum visit.
Even during COVID-19, make sure to keep prenatal and postpartum appointments with your health care provider. They are critical to a healthy pregnancy for both mom and baby. Your health care provider may ask you to use telehealth for some appointments, which allows you to meet with them over a phone or computer.
Pregnancy and having a new baby can feel overwhelming. Know that many people feel this way and there are resources and programs that can help, from early pregnancy all the way into the first years of baby’s life, and beyond.
Ask your health care or health insurance provider about programs that can help throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period, from providing prenatal vitamins and substance use support to safe supplies for the baby. Program offerings include information on how to access to free diapers, healthy foods, formula, breastfeeding supplies, car seats and sleeping options.
UnitedHealthcare has developed a new online resource that includes a wide range of information and resources to support new moms as they take care of themselves and their babies, regardless of their financial situation. For more information and resources, visit www.everypregnancy.com.
There is a video series providing step-by-step guidance on appointments, starting with a mom’s 8 week appointment, through her baby’s birth, and postpartum. Visit the website for more information on support resources available and self-care tips, as well as information on managing feelings of sadness or isolation.