Bollywood

Pregnancy, pandemic and panic: Maternal bliss turns traumatic anguish


Special, blissful and happy — this is how one usually describes a pregnancy. But with the pandemic taking a till o everyone’s lives, it has transformed the experience for expectant mothers into a journey full of anxiety and depression.

So, you ask, what is it like to be pregnant and give birth in a pandemic? It’s like living with guilt of bringing a new life into this world full of pain and grief, say expectant mothers.

PAN-HASSLED FOR STAR MOM-TO-BE

Several Bollywood celebs such as actors Dia Mirza, Lisa Haydon, Kishwer Merchant and Geeta Basra all are due to deliver babies this. And most of them admit that second wave has been tough one to handle.

“It has been quite a challenge to keep myself positive. Bolna bahut aasan hai ke stay positive, but how can you just be blind to what’s happening around? You can’t just cut out from the outside world. We don’t wake up to positive news anymore. It’s depressing actually,” says Basra, expecting her second baby with cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

“Who wants to show this kind of world to a newborn baby,” she asks, adding, “It’s a very awkward life we’re living right now, and no one expected this, but with the new baby coming, we want and hope to go back to the normal life as soon as possible.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Kishwer Merchant, who’s expecting her first child with Suyyash Rai, feels the timing has been really bad.

“I never imagined that my pregnancy would be like this — stuck at home, not able to do anything or even go out. Getting happy thoughts has been very difficult due to the turn of events,” she confesses, adding that she even got stuck in a cycle of negativity.

“I was getting into it very badly, but then I had to literally withdraw myself from it and put my phone away. I even told Suyyash to take calls regarding the crisis in another room as it was really affecting,” confesses Merchant.

COMMON EXPERIENCES FOR ALL

Not just celebs, other would-be-moms, too, are facing similar challenges.

In her second trimester, Aakanksha Joon, 30, says, “I’m constantly told to keep away from negative thoughts, but every morning when I open Whatsapp, I see news of someone having died while I was asleep. I’ve had to leave family groups because of the constant tragic news, just to get away from constant anxiety”.

Calling it the “worst time to be pregnant”, she adds, “I can’t go for regular check-ups because my doctor says we don’t have that luxury in these times. I’m surviving on hope and love to help my baby grow. It’s definitely panic inducing that my child may come into a world where he/she may not be safe from the first moment.”

In agreement, Sayali Sawant Kapadi, who’s due in July, says, “I have a feeling of guilt. I feel bad that my child will see this world with masked people, six feet distance, no crowd… This world where there are restrictions and danger.”

A CALL FOR HELP

There have been worldwide surveys indicating that pregnant and postpartum women are reporting high levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness during the pandemic. And they’ve to navigate it all with limited support, and the inability to go to the doctor for consultation.

That’s the reason why National Commission for Women’s (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma has started a special helpline for expectant mothers to guide them towards getting medical advice at the right time.

“There have been a rise in cases of Covid-19 among the pregnant women as well, and we’ve been swamped with calls ever since we started the helpline in April. Some ask for medicines, injections, beds, ventilators, while some call to check with various doubts and misconceptions about pregnancy and taking care, especially first timers,” Sharma shares, adding that they have got over 700 complaints till now.

POSITIVE VIBES ONLY

While Basra has cut herself off from “all sorts of updates on social media” and is instead listening to “lots of chants and mantras”, Merchant has found solace in “a colorful path of painting, world of books, planting and movie marathons” with husband.

Also, Joon ensures that she starts her mornings with positive thoughts and “align them to new beginnings”, and for Kapahi, “hydration, walking, breathing exercises, books, chanting mantras, and praying” has been helping her stay calm.

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