Nearly half of new and expectant mothers feel anxious or nervous, while more than three quarters say the coronavirus pandemic has added to their fears, according to research.
The pregnancy charity Tommy’s has called for more support for pregnant women before what is historically the most popular weekend to conceive a child.
Official figures have shown that 2 January is the most common day to conceive, as the most common day to be born in the UK is 26 September – which falls 38 weeks after the second day of the year.
A survey of a 1,000 new or expectant mothers by the charity found that seven in 10 felt overwhelmed at some point in their pregnancy, with 14% saying they struggled throughout, 49% feeling nervous or anxious and 77% saying the pandemic had added to their fears. Of those who responded to the survey, 89% said they had been scared by pregnancy-related headlines, while 80% had received unwanted advice.
The survey also found that women had been told common myths related to pregnancy, which the charity said “can contribute to the 1 in 4 babies lost during pregnancy or birth”. While 65% had heard the phase “You can eat for two”, 54% had heard that small amounts of alcohol were fine during pregnancy, and 39% had heard that baby movements slowed towards the end of pregnancy.
Tommy’s midwifery manager, Kate Marsh, advised mothers to use the charity’s Healthy Pregnancy tool to check up-to-date information about pregnancy. “Knowledge is power – and when it comes to pregnancy, feeling confident you have everything you need to do the right thing for you and your baby is important – but there is such a thing as too much information, which can leave mums-to-be anxious and overwhelmed,” she said. “Expectant parents need advice they can trust and personally tailored support throughout their pregnancy journey, not myths and misconceptions that evidence has disproved.”
Rachel, 29, from Rhyl found out she was expecting her first child just before the government deemed pregnant women a higher-risk group in the pandemic. She told the charity: “I didn’t know what to do because I’ve never been through this before – and, even if I had, Covid changed everything; I couldn’t just go to see my midwife, I hardly saw any professionals until I was close to giving birth, but I didn’t want to be a burden calling up with my concerns when the NHS was in crisis.”