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Pregnancy & the Pandemic: The challenges expecting mothers have encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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ROCKFORD (WREX) —This pandemic was brought with it long periods of isolation. For expecting mothers, navigating pregnancy and new motherhood can be difficult in this changed world.

"Being a new mom is lonely enough, being a mom in a pandemic it's just so lonely," says OSF St. Anthony OB Nurse and new mom Alex Hamm.

Hamm says at OSF, colleagues have watched how the pandemic has impacted women's mental health.

"We do screen post partum depression in patients, the numbers have been higher," says Hamm.

Hamm gave birth to her baby girl in June. She says for her, she felt a number of changes and losses. For example, not having a traditional baby shower or having her mom present for the birth. She was also forced to go to appointments without her husband.

"When you hear your babies heart beat for the first time you picture it you and your significant other looking at each other and crying," says Hamm. "Well now, that's not how it is, it's you and the ultrasound tech."

"New parents are not getting the support they might necessarily need from family and friends in part due to the stay at home mandates," says SwedishAmerican adult and child psychiatrist Dr. Oday Alsarraf.

Alsarraf says expecting and new moms should first and foremost recognize they are not alone in their feelings.

"Recognizing during these unprecedented times, it's more normal to be dealing with struggles like this," says Alsarraf.

Alsarraf says many women may also be struggling with concerns about what contracting COVID-19 can do to their health or the health of their baby. To fight back against anxieties and depression, Alsaraff recommends women try to catch up on sleep whenever they can, limit their social media time, and take time to cuddle with their newborn.

"The term for this is emotional bonding," says Alsarraf. "It's great for parent's mental health in addition it's shown to help with the physical and emotional connection of the child as well."

In addition, Alsarraf recommends women find support groups, whether that's virtual or in-person, to share concerns and frustrations with other mom's going through the same challenges.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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