Pregnancy comes with its fair share of ups and downs. Of course, the ups are shopping for nursery decor, planning your baby shower, and showing your growing bump off to enamored friends and family. The lows inevitably include relentless morning sickness, uncontrollable emotions, the stresses of genetic testing, and threats to your babies’ health and your own. The latter being the challenges pregnancy pose in a normal world, let alone one upended by a global pandemic.
COVID-19 inevitably brings new challenges to expectant mothers. Eight months in, with no end in sight, women everywhere are growing their baby bumps amidst the surreality of it all. So what is really like to be pregnant in a pandemic? We asked five women who experienced pregnancy first hand during, perhaps, the most unprecedented time in history.
Kate Neilson, Publicist
Delivered: March 29, 2020
On March 1, I was 35 weeks pregnant, and Coronavirus was barely starting to hit the news. Then, I had no idea how this virus would impact my family and my birth plan just a few short weeks later.
I entered into my final weeks of pregnancy as the world was beginning to shut down. COVID-19 tests were difficult to obtain, and there was little information available to any of my doctors. On March 17, at 37 weeks pregnant, my husband, mother, and father contracted the virus.
At 2 am on March 29, my water broke, and it hit me that my husband did not meet the criteria to come to the hospital with me. I cried and hugged my husband goodbye and was off to the hospital to have our baby.
The midwife got the call I was coming in and the hospital was on high alert — I was their patient 0. As I contracted in heavy labor, we were taken in through a back hallway and led to the special isolation room to give birth. I was terrified and cried for my husband. I had never had a symptom, yet I felt ashamed of my presumed diagnosis. It felt like everyone was afraid of me. Would anyone hold my hand while I pushed?
I was blessed with an incredible nurse — she calmed my fears, held my hand, and helped me breathe through the contractions — and my back-up plan, a best friend who lived an hour away who selflessly was willing to expose herself to the virus to be with me during labor.
A close call
When our baby, Tripp, turned one week old (on my 35th birthday), my father went into ARDS and was intubated at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital. He remained in critical condition in the ICU on a ventilator for four weeks. Twice, we said goodbye to my father over Facetime with an ICU nurse holding the phone, thinking he would not make it through the night. Miraculously he recovered, after two bouts of pneumonia, sepsis, and countless infections. My son’s first weeks of life were some of the most challenging times in my life. He was the light that kept us all going in such a dark time.
It takes a village
I missed out on a breastfeeding support group, proper maternity leave with childcare for my toddler, friends, and family visiting, and so much more. However, the love and support I felt from afar kept me going. The daily porch drop-offs of food and gifts in the month that followed was something I’ll never forget.
Justine Marjan, Celebrity Hairstylist
Currently Pregnant: 17 Weeks
A blessing in disguise
I was super excited to find out I was pregnant — it gave my family and me something to look forward to in such a dark time. By now, we have adapted as much as we can to the pandemic. My husband and I limit our outside exposure as much as possible, only going out for work, appointments, and to visit family. I’m also happy to have the time to focus on my health and my baby since work has slowed down and I’m no longer traveling. I feel fortunate to be able to have the time to read books about pregnancy, honor my body, take naps, and focus on my health with my husband.
A new reality
We get tested every time before we see family members and always wear masks and use hand sanitizer outside of the house. Fortunately, my husband has been able to come with me to all my doctor’s appointments. We had a small gender reveal in a friend’s backyard, and all got tested before.
An alternative birthing plan
I’m planning on doing a home birth with midwives and a doula. We will have our birth team get tested that day. I’m relieved to be able to give birth at home, where I can be in a comfortable atmosphere without the stress of a hospital.
Michelle Kollmeier, Creative Director
Delivered: August 31, 2020
Outgrowing the pandemic
I first found out I was pregnant at the end of December/beginning of January before the pandemic really hit. In March, I became concerned about how the virus could affect my unborn baby and me. As the months went on, I became more and more cautious about going anywhere or being around people. I had no idea that we would go well into the pregnancy and after giving birth, still in a pandemic!
The day I delivered, we felt very safe in the hospital, and considering the pandemic, everything was pretty standard. My husband and I were COVID-tested before checking into the hospital. We wore masks the whole time, but I was just thankful he could be with me in the delivery room.
A new reality
It was a little disappointing that my husband couldn’t come to any of my Dr. appointments, but I would record ultrasound visits so he could see! I had a couple of issues during the pregnancy, so when something concerning came up at an appointment, or I needed to take a test, it was hard not having him with me.
Baby shopping was challenging since I couldn’t see anything in person or touch it. I miss shopping for the baby and myself in actual stores.
The silver lining
It was nice working from home throughout the pregnancy, especially because I had an hour commute each way and was not looking forward to that ride when I was really pregnant and had to pee every 5 minutes.
I thought we would do a “sip-and-see” after the baby was born but haven’t yet because it still feels strange. My mom and sister-in-law both came from the East Coast to meet the baby but had to quarantine before. Friends have met the baby socially distanced, outside with masks and via Facetime.
Madeline Torres, Influencer
Delivered: October 28, 2020
View this post on Instagram
Noah, you have given me one of the greatest gifts in this lifetime…becoming your mother. . . . . . #my #son #pure #happines #mommy #mommylife #teddybear #little #love #babyboy #pregnancy #love #instagood #photooftheday #happy #instalike #august #happy #boy #mum #mumlife #family #childbirth #baby #thirdtrimester #31weekspregnant #maternityphotography #maternityshoot #maternityphotoshoot #maternityfashion #maternitydresses #maternity
A post shared by Madeline Torres (@hereismaddy) on
Growing in isolation
When I first found out I was pregnant, my first thought was, how can I stay safe in this pregnancy? I had a moment where I was even scared to go to my doctor’s appointment because I didn’t want to risk it. There was a lack of resources on how COVID affected pregnancies, and until I felt more secure with information, I never left the house.
I wasn’t able to enjoy my pregnancy with friends and family as much I would have liked to. I was limited to just my immediate family and soaking up as much as I could with them.
Hope and happiness
This is the best thing that has happened to me in 2020 — it gave me a sense of hope and happiness.
Stephanie Montes, Founder of Nue
Currently Pregnant: 29 Weeks
Happy (and sad) tears
On May 7, I found out I was four weeks pregnant. Most grocery shelves were low on food, we were afraid to step outside our front door without masks and gloves, and I hadn’t seen my parents, who live just a few miles away, in months. The number of cases was rising, and information was all so conflicting. I cried when I found out, both out of happiness and excitement but also fear of what it would be like to be pregnant in the middle of a pandemic. Even now, seven months in, so many things feel so uncertain.
Although my husband drives me and tunes in via FaceTime, I’ve had to attend all my doctor appointments alone. We recently had a scare, and I felt like I was ripped from my husband’s arms upon entering the triage department. He’s in this with me one hundred percent, but when I walk into a massive hospital by myself, I feel so small, and it’s difficult not to feel alone. For a long time, I wondered if he’d even be allowed in the delivery room, but as of now, it seems he will.
I hate that I haven’t been able to enjoy baby shopping, show off my growing bump, or plan a baby shower packed with friends and family. While I’m thankful for my health and that of my baby, it’s difficult not to feel robbed of the experience. This is not how I imagined my first pregnancy at all, and it’s difficult not to feel angry at times.
But, overall, feeling grateful
On the other hand, I’m so grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend at home. While my days used to be packed with morning meetings, coffee dates, lunch catch-ups, and events (not to mention traffic to and from), these days are slower in the best way possible. I’ve got to spend so much more time with my husband, getting the house ready for the baby, and taking naps, so it’s all about the silver linings, I guess. Every time I feel my baby kick, it reminds me that everything will be okay. As long as he or she is healthy, my world couldn’t be in a better place.