(BPT) - Finding out you are pregnant is life-changing and you may experience a range of emotions. New parents have lots on their plate, especially with concerns around COVID-19. This can leave many feeling overwhelmed from information and advice, which can lead to skipping the important step of making appointments for themselves and their baby.
"Pregnancy can be an exciting time for many. However, pregnancy can also bring a lot of questions, wondering and worry for women and their partners," says Dr. Carolyn Brooks, senior director, Clinical Capability, UnitedHealthcare Community & State. "It's important to take steps throughout the pregnancy to connect to care and resources that can support mom and baby, from early in pregnancy all the way into the first years of a baby’s life."
Dr. Brooks and the experts at UnitedHealthcare share some important things pregnant women should know during the pandemic and beyond:
Find a doctor and make an appointment as soon as you suspect or learn that you are pregnant
To ensure optimal health for you and your baby, prenatal appointments are essential and the earlier in the pregnancy the better. At the first appointment, a health care expert will confirm your pregnancy and work with you to determine a healthy plan for the future. During your prenatal appointments, your provider will measure your weight and blood pressure and screen for conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, anemia and hepatitis B, which are important to detect and treat during pregnancy.
This is also a good time to ask questions you may have or explore any early symptoms like morning sickness you may be experiencing to learn about common management and nutrition. You can also ask about the many programs and resources that can help you throughout your pregnancy, from getting you access to prenatal vitamins and baby supplies to connecting you to case management programs, group support options and other programs that could address substance use and behavioral health needs.
Access the many programs and resources available for you that benefit you and your baby
There are a variety of programs that can help you get what you need for a successful pregnancy, continuing into the first years of your child's life. Use the many community resources available, ask your health care team to assist in supporting your care coordination and utilize the opportunities for enhanced programs from your insurance provider. When you inquire, you may find you qualify for numerous programs, particularly if you're experiencing difficult times.
As a first step, if you are a UnitedHealthcare member, you can call the number on your insurance card to determine what resources are available to you as there are a range of programs and support services the company can offer or connect you with.
Go to all your prenatal and postpartum appointments – even during COVID-19
Even during COVID-19, you should keep prenatal and postpartum appointments with your health care provider. In some instances, you may have an option to use telehealth for some appointments, which allows you to meet with your provider 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.
The CDC recommends a COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women so make sure to ask your health care provider when you should get this vaccine and other important vaccinations to protect you and your baby.
Acknowledge and manage stress, anxiety and depression
Being pregnant or taking care of a new baby during COVID-19 may have you feeling uncertain, nervous or worried. You aren’t alone. These are normal feelings to have, especially during a pandemic, and it's important to first acknowledge and then take steps to ask for help when needed to manage stress, anxiety or depression during this time.
While it can be difficult, try to focus on yourself and your mental health. Practicing self-care by creating a daily routine and taking breaks from the news can help. If you're feeling lonely or isolated, talk to family, friends or your health care provider. You are not alone in this journey.
For more information and resources, visit https://everypregnancy.com.