Phoenix Moms is all about supporting women in every stage of motherhood. Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times, but COVID-19 restrictions and concerns can lead to missed appointments, additional stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, more than half of pregnant women are anxious about their well-being often or all the time, and two-thirds are worried about their baby’s health during pregnancy. There are endless things for pregnant moms to worry about in “normal times,” and these past 18 months have been anything but normal.
Pregnant women in the U.S. are increasingly experiencing adverse maternal and birth outcomes. To improve outcomes for women and infants, it’s important that those expecting are supported early and throughout their care journey – including support for mother and child after birth.
- Risks are particularly high among Black women – the rate of preterm births is 49% higher than for all other races.
- Racial disparities also persist in maternal outcomes, including severe maternal morbidity and mortality.
- Low birthweight, which affects one in 12 (8%) of infants, is also on the rise.
- Infants born preterm or with low birthweight are at an increased risk for experiencing physical disabilities and developmental impairments throughout their lives.
Nearly a quarter of mothers do not initiate prenatal appointments starting in the first trimester. 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 expert will confirm the pregnancy and work to determine a healthy pregnancy plan.
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. They may ask to use telehealth for some appointments, which allows you to meet with them over a phone or computer and is a safe option, if recommended.
Other appointments will still need to take place in person. Health care facilities are taking extra steps to ensure a safe, clean environment. You can be proactive and help stay healthy during in-person visits by practicing social distancing, washing your hands often and wearing a mask.
This is a great time to ask questions – so make sure to write them down in advance of the appointment. We like the idea of creating a note in your phone with all of your questions and the doctor’s recommendations. You can even share the note from your phone with your partner.
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 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. There is information on support resources available, self-care tips, as well as information on managing feelings of sadness or isolation.