COVID-19, pregnancy and anxiety

by Claudia Ravaldi

Read the guidelines drawn up by CiaoLapo on coronavirus, pregnancy and breastfeeding

“We just needed the coronavirus”

We have thought so many.

The women in their first pregnancy are thinking about it, the mothers struggling with the pregnancy following a perinatal bereavement think it, the fathers think that, unleashing the well-known pragmatism, they are connected to the civil protection site to follow the progress of the epidemic in time real. (For the sake of completeness, I will say that we doctors and health professionals think so too …)

Pregnancy is always an adventure and every pregnancy is a story in itself: in the last fifty years, medicine has made it possible to drastically reduce maternal, fetal and neonatal deaths and even in our country, despite a certain slow progress, events avoidable adverse events are quite few. Not yet zero, but very few, especially if all the protocols for the management of pregnant women and assistance in the event of a high-risk pregnancy are carefully respected.

All this speech, although it is very reasonable, often enters in one ear and immediately exits the other: the speed depends on the level of anxiety of the speaker and the listener (which reinforce each other), on the previous history of the speaker and of the listener and above all of how much we are able to tolerate that zero risk does not exist and given all the wonderful and fundamental progress, we cannot control everything. Not even pregnancy.

Anxiety in pregnancy and in the puerperium is a known disorder, higher in mothers and couples with previous traumatic life events (such as abortion and perinatal death) and particularly persistent: anxiety in pregnancy does not subside with the birth of a child in good health, but tends to remain intact, to amplify and sometimes to become complicated.

Being anxious is not a whim, it is not a habit and it is not a sign of weakness. Anxiety is a response that would protect us from events that we perceive as dangerous, looming over our life and beyond our control: it would like to help us, but often it only complicates things and affects our well-being.

The coronavirus comes with all its great epidemic bandwagon to give the final blow to our anxiety and this psychic and emotional effect of the epidemic must be taken into account, if we want to maintain an acceptable level of well-being and enjoy our pregnancy as much as possible and our newborn.

I know well that it is very difficult to be reassured: we have only been talking about Coronavirus for weeks, there are deaths and the lack of beds in hospitals.

The goal we wish to pursue is ambitious:

we would like to try to accept the concern for what it is, trying to find a definite space for it and trying to prevent it from overflowing;

for this reason we would like to write the main updated information made available by international institutions and by researchers who are dealing with Coronavirus in pregnant women and in the puerperium, as it is possible to get a more precise idea that goes beyond the first hypotheses;

we would like to face once again the age-old question of “zero risk”. It is very important to dwell on this information, to prevent anxiety from overwhelming and paralyzing us: zero risk never exists, but there are different levels of risk that make an event more or less probable.

With respect to the Coronavirus, there are important things we can do to make the risk irrelevant we have discussed it here , here in the article #iorestoacasa about staying at home during pregnancy and also on the huffingtonpost regarding how to deal with the puerperium.

If we just can’t get rid of anxiety, at least try to tame it.

A virtual hug.

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