Little ones born this year have fondly become known as corona babies while mothers are labelled as having a corona pregnancy. And if you go to any forum, debate rages over whether 2020 is the best or worst year to be expecting.
I fall into the first camp. Coronavirus has been a blessing in disguise these past 8 months. But for every woman that revels in the comfort of working from home, there are just as many who lament how social distancing has ruined their gender-reveal party. Keep reading for a rundown of all the corona pregnancy pros and cons.
The pros of a corona pregnancy
Working from home
This is definitely the biggie. When the “coco-cola virus” first exploded, professionals around the world were asked to work from home. And most of us still do!
I’ve had an easy pregnancy up until my 33rd week when the terrible backaches started. It’s wonderful that I can grab my laptop and work on my comfy couch amidst lots of pillows for support. For women suffering morning sickness, easy access to the toilet is definitely a plus! And let’s not forget all the time saved on commuting. Kudos to anyone who previously soldiered through the aches, pains, and pukes during a desk-bound job.
Of course, not all of us are working from home this year. Retail, hospitality, healthcare, and many other industries have not experienced such a revolution due to the nature of their work.
I haven’t worn shoes for months
Because of lockdown, social distancing, and working from home I haven’t worn proper shoes since February! I also haven’t seen my ankles for many months either.
Swollen feet and ankles are the hallmarks of any pregnancy. It is caused by all the extra fluid in the body, pressure from the growing uterus, and the burden of carrying around so much extra weight. You can expect delightfully puffy feet and cankles from around the second trimester onwards.
It is just as well the government put us all in lockdown. Not only can I hide my beastly paws from innocent friends and colleagues during my corona pregnancy, but I can also enjoy padding around my house barefoot. I only resort to flip-flops when I need to go outside. My feet wouldn’t fit into my heels and loafers, even if I tried.
Healthier than ever
This year we should all be healthier than ever – no excuses! With all this boo-hoo about viruses and germs, everyone is finally educated on the importance of washing their hands and not spitting. Fewer germs floating around means less getting sick.
Secondly, the time saved on commuting, socialising, and putting on shoes (or trousers!) can be reinvested into healthy living.
For instance, I have substituted my previous morning commute with home workouts. There are so many great videos I can do for free on YouTube in less time than it would have taken me to take the train to work. I particularly recommend the Pregnancy and Postpartum TV with Jessica Pumple.
I also cook more now I am always at home. Home-cooked food is healthier than food-on-the-go because you can control what you are eating. Did you know meals from food courts, hawkers, and restaurants often contain additives and extra sugar to preserve the food for longer (especially in hot climates) as well as make it tastier? Fresh ingredients and vegetables are also skimped on to cut costs.
At home, I like to whip up delicious omelettes, salad sandwiches, smoked salmon crepes, vege-packed stir-fries, and other healthy dishes that aren’t even available at the food court.
Great timing to snap up second-hand stuff
I suppose people have always tried to flog their old baby items. But this year, there seems to be more second-hand shopping online than ever before. When you are stuck at home and fretting about money, what else are you going to do except try to sell shit on Facebook or eBay?
In Singapore, this trend has been compounded by the fact that many foreign families are repatriating. They are selling all their bulky items at great prices to make the trip back home easier. I have made great second-hand purchases on a baby change table, car seat, and Bjorn carrier.
Some generous families are even giving away old baby items as “blessings”. This means, when you know you are not going to use it anymore you give it to a new family for free, understanding there is so much to buy for a first child and it all adds up. I was blessed with a cot from one family, and I intend to pass the cot on for free again when I am finished with it. Stay tuned for my next blog on the real costs of pregnancy in Singapore.
The cons of a corona pregnancy
Cancelled doctors appointments
This year, many women have had their prenatal doctors appointments cancelled due to the burden of COVID19 on the health system. Any woman will tell you that those doctors appointments are precious. They are the only chance to see your little one moving around on the ultrasound screen and be reassured everything is progressing well. Depending on what country you live in, you normally have an appointment during early pregnancy, then again around the 20-week mark. Appointments become fortnightly from 33 weeks onwards, and weekly from 37 weeks onwards.
Fortunately, it hasn’t really been the case in Singapore that appointments were cancelled. But it has been prevalent in Europe and the U.S. during peak periods in which doctors were overwhelmed. Sometimes, appointments have been changed to phone calls for the safety of the expectant mother.
Additionally, many partners have not been able to join the appointment as clinics and hospitals take steps to reduce crowding. This was the case in Singapore until around June.
Wearing a face mask
I don’t like wearing a face mask at the best of times. But when you are pregnant it is a real killer! Shortness of breath is another classic hallmark of pregnancy and it occurs for two reasons. Firstly, the increase in the hormone progesterone causes you to breathe in more deeply. Secondly, the expanding uterus puts undue pressure on the lungs and other organs.
Wearing a face mask is simply stifling when you are already gasping for air just trudging down the street. In many Asian countries, such as Singapore, wearing a face mask in public is compulsory. Even in the most liberal countries, it is usually mandatory to at least wear a face mask during a clinic or hospital visit.
Even worse is the thought of giving labour with a face mask on. Yes! Many women have done exactly that this year. How awful. In Singapore, you are allowed to remove your face mask only during the active labour phase. But before and after that, you must keep it on.
Stress of economic uncertainty
We all knew another downturn was on its way. But nothing could have prepared us for the economic havoc bought on by the coronavirus. So many people have lost their livelihoods, accepted salary cuts, or been forced into early retirement. Some jobs have disappeared, never to return again, as a result of new ways of working.
This is not good news for families expecting a baby. Having a child is expensive. The fear of losing your job and not being able to provide is ruining the moment for many couples.
Virtual gender-reveals are not the same
In some cultures, there are many social events in the lead up to the big moment. Especially in America, it is quintessential to have a gender-reveal party or a baby shower to celebrate the pregnancy. However, this year many women have cancelled their events due to social distancing or a general fear of contracting coronavirus. And let’s face it, a virtual party is just not the same.
The good news is that gender-reveal parties were becoming so passe anyway. Nowadays, it is more fashionable to have the gender reveal party after your baby is born. At 18-years old, to be precise, when the child can legally determine their own gender.
International travel bans are the ultimate downer
The worse thing about having a baby in 2020 are the international travel restrictions. Many countries have shut their borders, so residents cannot easily leave or re-enter. Even if you can leave, mandatory quarantines, expensive testing, and exposure to the virus deter even the most hardcore travellers.
It is customary to enjoy a “baby-moon” during the second trimester. A baby-moon is a tropical holiday abroad and a final chance to pamper yourself with nice food, fruity drinks, and spa treatments. There will be no time for any of that once the bundle of joy arrives. Many women have had to forgo this little luxury, although there is always the option of doing a staycation instead.
For those of us who live abroad, the restrictions mean that family cannot visit, which really sucks!!
Fear of getting sick
There is a reason why everyone has started calling COVID19 the “coca-cola virus”. It has become both mainstream and controversial. On the one hand, our newsfeeds are full coronavirus stories scaring us into submission. On the other hand, more and more people are questioning the severity of contracting it.
Either way, all this news has mothers-to-be panicking about the safety of their unborn child and fretful about getting sick. The added stress does more harm than good. Another topic that dominates the pregnancy chat forums is whether or not to allow visitors to see your newborn once they arrive, given the current pandemic. It’s a sad state of affairs when we feel we need to hide inside.
So is a corona pregnancy good or not?
Hmmm. Now that I’ve finished writing this I realise there are way more cons than pros when it comes to having a corona pregnancy this year! However, I think the strength of the pros ultimately outweighs the cons. In the short-term, we are dealing with more anxiety. We are fearful of the economy, our health, and the future. But in the long-term, coronavirus has sped up flexible working and encouraged the adoption of more healthy lifestyles, which will benefit families for years to come.
If you are pregnant with your first baby in Singapore, consider joining the Antenatal Care & Parentcraft Programme with NUH. You will meet other parents and learn everything from handling pregnancy through to delivery and newborn care.