Pregnancy and a pandemic

This week on the VOYA blog, VOYA’s Jessica Anhold speaks candidly about being pregnant during a pandemic, staying safe and positive and the little silver linings that are there to embrace. Jessica also shares which simple tasks and organic and wellbeing products have brought her calm and joy during each trial, tribulation, and trimester.

This is not my first pregnancy, although it may as well be, as my firstborn just turned 16 and so I feel like a complete novice again. My main coping mechanism for the mild panic that I am constantly feeling is to tackle online baby prep shopping as if it’s an Olympic sport in the vain hope that the more ‘stuff’ I have, the easier it will be (I can hear the laughter of new mums everywhere as I write that). 

Usually, pregnancy is a lovely time (aches and pains aside) where we can bond with our nearest and dearest as we go into nesting mode. Shopping trips with friends or family to carefully select a car seat (that you know will be impossible to install once baby arrives), mulling over the colour of your pram as if it’s a life-changing decision, lunch dates with your mum after browsing impossibly tiny and cute baby outfits, coffee with your best friend as you compare notes and share female wisdom of the ages around pregnancy and childbirth. All of this is gone now.

Embrace the Silver Linings 

As one friend said to me, I’m ‘doing a Kylie Jenner’, disappearing one day with no sign of a bump and reappearing 9mths later with a babe in arms (disclaimer – I won’t be sporting a Kylie Jenner body when I do reappear!).  It can be quite a lonely time, to be honest.  Working remotely only adds to the isolation and whilst people mean well if one more person suggests that I go for a walk, I may actually scream. 

But all of that aside, there are of course blessings to be found.  It has been a very relaxed pregnancy, no busy commutes and dashing here and there means that I’m not as tired as I might have been. Spending most of every day alone means that I’ve quiet time to just be, and to connect with my baby (who currently feels like they are auditioning for Riverdance).

Appointments with my consultant are hassle-free as the waiting rooms are almost empty and you are seen punctually.  And thank the lord for online shopping as I can buy everything I need – I’m now on a first-name basis with my Fastway, An Post and DHL delivery drivers who always ask how I’m getting on and how long to go.

Embrace the Simple Things

I’ve found that there is comfort in the simple things and in routine and here is what has worked for me in terms of keeping grounded and focused on the positive.

Voya Coconut and Jasmine Scented Candle

Having fresh flowers in the house and lighting candles makes rooms seem more welcoming and make me smile.  My current favourite scent is VOYA Coconut & Jasmine. Coconut has de-stressing properties which is an added bonus.

Get up, get dressed and apply some makeup.  This routine helps me to get my head into the day and to feel more like myself.  Of course, there are days that leggings, a baggy jumper and no bra are required, but at least 5 days out of 7 I make an effort. On days where comfort is a must then I highly recommend Lululemon SHR Align leggings. They aren’t pregnancy leggings but will stretch to fit any bump, are supportive and are incredibly soft.

One advantage of working from home means that I can prepare my own food. I try to cook fresh as much as possible. It's healthier for the baby and me and can be very relaxing.  The current family favourite is a delicious Mediterranean fish stew which I’d love to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine in the sunshine (but good things come to those who wait).

Skincare is key during pregnancy as for most of us our skin type will change.  Dry and itchy skin is a common complaint, not to mention the dreaded stretch marks.   There are no miracle cures here so don’t believe the marketing hype, nothing can definitively stop them coming or remove them. They are generally genetic BUT you can reduce your risk of them by keeping your skin supple and moisturised and by having a gradual rather than a fast weight gain. I have been using both VOYA Mama Care body oil and cream.

It's reassuring to know that they are organic as we all want to be extra kind to our bodies whilst carrying a baby.  I love the oil for all-over moisturising and I use the cream for the areas which would be more prone to stretch marks e.g. tummy, hips, thighs and breasts.  Whilst I am not at the end of my pregnancy yet, I am in the third trimester and no stretch marks yet (whereas I did have them in my first pregnancy quite early on).  At the very least it is a relaxing and pampering routine post shower which is an important part of self-care.

Voya Mum to Be Range

And finally fresh air. Yes I know I was complaining about the walks but getting outside is key. It hasn’t been easy over the past few winter months with grey skies, cold and rain waiting for us, but now that there is a hint of Spring in the air, the outdoors is looking far more inviting.  A good tramp around a field with my dogs during my lunch break does me the power of good.

Stay Safe, Stay Positive

Stay safe mamma’s and please remember that you aren’t alone in this even though sometimes it can feel that way.  You have an ocean of positivity and goodwill flowing your way from your friends and family and the wider tribe of mums to be. 

Voya Mum to Be Range

Do you have any other tips for me to help me get through the final furlough?