By Daphne Metland, Editorial Director International, Maternal and Child Health, BabyCenter
Expecting a baby is exciting, but the Zika virus has moms all over the world worried. It’s easy to get caught up in the scary news bulletins, the frightening pictures of babies who have been affected by the Zika virus and the sense of powerlessness that the unknown brings. Stress is normal, but if it’s affecting you daily pop over here to check out the best solutions.
As the Editorial Director for Global Maternal and Child Health for BabyCenter, I’ve traveled to over 30 countries and met mothers in each country. I have sat in wooden huts where three generations live in one room. I have been to slums in India where women have to carry buckets of water from a street tap. I’ve been to townships in South Africa where a third of the women were HIV positive. And everywhere I’ve been, I’ve seen mothers doing their very best for their babies.
Moms care everywhere. They care even if they have so little that you wonder how they manage. But they do manage and their babies are lovely and well loved. BabyCenter is involved in giving these mothers good information on their mobile phones, and the mothers love it because that knowledge helps them to be a better mother.
But today there’s a whole generation of mothers-to-be who feel threatened by Zika. Will I be bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus? Should I cancel my holiday? Will those Zika mosquitoes (aedes aegypti) hitch a lift on a passing breeze and appear in my back yard? And will just worrying about it all harm my baby?
So how can moms cope? Here are a few ways to ditch the worry and get your power back.
- Be well informed
BabyCenter has put together a team of editors from around the world to tease out the facts from the rumors. We are looking at all the research and news, and adding content to our sites when we feel we have some reliable, useful information to publish. We use good quality information sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). We won’t be the fastest with the news, but we aim be the most sensible and reliable. Read about Zika in Pregnancy here. We also have information available in Portuguese and Spanish.
Watch the WHO video on Zika virus below.
- Do the things you can do
You can protect yourself from mosquitos. If you live in a Zika area, use window and doors screens, get rid of any standing water in pots or bottles, use insect repellents, and make sure any rubbish is sealed in plastic bags and stored in covered containers. If you have planned a trip and think Zika may be a problem, check it out. The CDC has good maps of countries affected by Zika.
Don’t forget to go on taking care of yourself. Eat well, avoid the things you know are not good for you during pregnancy like smoking and drinking, keep going to your prenatal appointments, get a flu shot. Whatever the problems you face, you and your baby will be better equipped to deal with them if you are fit and well.
- Get emotional support
BabyCenter community is a great place to talk to other women who are worried about Zika. Just make sure that you don’t wind each other up. Instead aim for mutual support. Talk to your doctor at your next appointment. Discuss things with your husband, your partner or your mother. If your family is also worried, find a calm, supportive friend and use him or her as a sounding board.
- Remember all the good things you have done for this baby
Think back to before you were pregnant. How much did you know about having a baby? Now think about just how much you have learned on this journey to motherhood. No generation of women has ever known so much about getting pregnant, staying well and coping with any problems. You just have to ask your own mom to realize that you are a well-informed mom-to-be and you know how to take care of yourself and your baby.
Fernanda Ravagnani, BabyCenter’s Brasilian editor who has been at the ‘eye of the storm’ of Zika for several months sent this wonderful picture which sums up the optimism and hope that is part of being a mother, or mother-to-be. Fernanda says…
“I leave you with the usual Brazilian optimism. It is Carnival and this pregnant woman, in one of the hardest hit regions of Brasil, chose to go dancing on the street using a mosquito net as a costume.”
Daphne Metland is Editorial Director, International, Maternal and Child Health for BabyCenter. An experienced medical journalist, Daphne is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine in London and a member of the Association of Medical Journalists. In addition to being instrumental in the launch of BabyCenter web sites all over the world, Daphne is responsible for the company’s m-health Content Development Team and has created mobile phone messaging programs that are now in use in over 70 countries. Daphne has also created a series of 16 books on pregnancy and parenting for the National Childbirth Trust, journals for antenatal teachers, and videos on skills for labor, some of which have been highly commended by the British Medical Association in their annual Patient Information Awards. Before joining BabyCenter, Daphne worked as an antenatal teacher, preparing hundreds of couples for the arrival of their baby.
Lead photo of a new mom in Colombia. Photo courtesy Pan American Health Organization