Pregnancy is a time of great joy and expectation for most women and their families. Following the declaration of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we understand that many pregnant women will feel a sense of anxiety about their own health and that of their unborn or soon-to-be newborn baby. If you are feeling overwhelmed, be reassured that such emotions are common at a time like this and there are many ways to help you cope. It is important to acknowledge how you feel, and to take the time to look after your physical and mental health.

We have put together the following wellbeing advice and self-care activities you may find helpful:

  • Take a break from the news. It’s important to stay informed to ensure you and your family are taking appropriate steps to stay healthy. But it’s also important to limit your media intake to a couple of times a day and to only use trusted and accurate sources of information.

  • Remind yourself that you are ok and this will pass.

  • Perinatal_Mental_Health_1-241x241Try to follow your ordinary routine as much as possible, and take time to plan how you’ll spend your day:
    • Write your plan down on a piece of paper and stick it to the fridge door or the wall. You may want to set alarms to remind you of your new schedule if that helps.
    • Get up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time.

  • Eat healthy foods.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can.

  • Get some moderate exercise every day unless your doctor has advised against it because of a serious problem with your health or your baby (not common). You can be reassured that research has shown that moderate daily exercise does not cause preterm birth or other pregnancy complications. In fact, moderate exercise lowers the chance of high blood pressure and diabetes, and improves bowel function, sleep and mood for most women. Safe exercises include walking, climbing stairs, swimming, stationary cycling and yoga/pilates. You should avoid horse-riding, squash, vigorous contact sports, scuba diving and downhill skiing. Women with high levels of fitness before pregnancy can often continue much of their usual intense exercise program, but should discuss this first with their doctor.

  • If you’re feeling claustrophobic or trapped inside home:
    • Open the windows to let in fresh air.
    • Spend time sitting on your doorstep/balcony, or in the garden if you have one.
    • Looking at the sky out of the window can help give you a sense of space.

  • Stay active: Engage in activities that bring you joy, such as, dancing to music, seated exercises, meditation and yoga.

  • Do something that makes you feel better and can help distract you from what’s going on in the world such as reading books, magazines and articles, listening to podcasts, singing or listening to music, watching films, doing puzzles, drawing, painting, collage, sewing, colouring, playing musical instruments, writing, and learning something new such as a musical instrument or a new language.

  • If you are working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance, assign specific work hours and take regular breaks.

  • Practice this breathing exercise:
    • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    • Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
    • Place your hand on your stomach (it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out).
    • Count as you breathe. Start by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe in and 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out.

  • Practice Mindfulness. It is about trying to be present in the moment, staying calm and simply experiencing your emotions and physical feelings without being overwhelmed by them. Put aside distractions and focus fully on one small task. For example:
    • While you’re having a cup of tea, use your senses to pay attention to the smell of the tea, the warmth of the cup in your hand, the colour of the tea and the taste.
    • If you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy and you already feel your baby’s movements and kicks, close your eyes and try to pay attention to their movement, kicks, legs moving behind it, their body moving in different angles or twisting, their hands and arms stretching. By doing this you feel like you are holding an image of the baby in your mind created only by the sensations of their movement, all while your brain is loose and free.

  • Use APPLE coping technique:
    • Acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind: Be aware of it, be mindful of it.
    • Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. It is just the worrying talking to you.
    • Pull back and pull away from those worries.
    • Let go that thought or feeling: Maybe imagine it floating away in a cloud or a bubble.
    • Explore the present moment and shift your focus and attention to something else.

  • Reach out to your support network. Stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues via email, text, social media, video conferencing or telephone. It’s good to spend time thinking about loved ones and neighbours who will likely also be anxious and uncertain. Plan some small ways you might be able to support them within the restrictions caused by the virus and your pregnancy.

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  • Contact your GP or midwife if you need to talk about how you are feeling and coping. Do not struggle with difficult feelings by yourself or in silence.

  • If you need more advice or assistance, you can contact the following for
    mental health support:

    • PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline (1300 726 306)
    • NSW Mental Health Line (1800 011 511)
    • Gidget's National Telehealth Program for Families Experiencing Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (1300 851 758)
    • Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline Speak to a maternal child health nurse (1800 882 436)
    • Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636)
    • Lifeline (13 11 14)
    • Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467)
    • MensLine Australia (Men with emotional or relationship concerns): – 1300 78 9978

    Further resources for new parents can be found on:

If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should contact the
National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080