As COVID-19 continues to storm through the world, putting a stop to many everyday social activities, life has somehow managed to carry on. Brides and grooms are still walking down aisles, neighbors are still talking about the weather (although it might be through a mask or across a driveway) and families are welcoming new little bundles of joy into their arms. Having a baby during this pandemic is proving to be a challenging undertaking, but the resilience of the human spirit consistently shows itself in the creative ways families are managing postpartum time.
The Covid baby
If you are or are about to become a new parent, you may be wondering how you’re to deal with not only caring for a newborn but also sanitizing, isolating, e-learning and completing daily living tasks with only a social-distanced village to help. You may also find yourself concerned about your newborn’s safety due to Coronavirus. The good news is that COVID-19 infections are not common in infants, and most infants recover quickly if infected.
That being said, you should still be cautious and practice frequent handwashing for both you and your baby and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Simplify tasks such as grocery shopping and, instead, opt for delivery. Screen visitors and keep them to a minimum. It goes without saying that anyone who enters your home must wash their hands before approaching the baby, and masks are non-negotiable for additional protection.
Breast is still best
If your baby is breastfeeding, now is NOT the time to stop. Breast milk is an excellent means to building a healthy immune system. For bottle-fed babies, practice extra caution when preparing the bottles, including sterilizing and sanitizing them in between feedings. Be prepared by having two to three weeks’ worth of supplies such as diapers and formula available in your home, just in case the rollercoaster of COVID-19 causes shortages or stores close down.
Postpartum mental health
While implementing such common-sense steps is fairly easy, what are postpartum mothers to do about their mental health during this social-distancing season? Most new mothers feel some measure of isolation after giving birth; add to that a double whammy with the pandemic, and a new mom’s days can get pretty dark. Therefore, mental health should be a priority. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. Don’t ever hesitate to call or contact your healthcare provider or get help, even if you think it may be a simple case of “baby blues.”
Taking walks outside as much as possible is a not only a great way to get exercise and fresh air, but it’s a great mood booster. If family members want to “meet” the baby, a virtual meeting is the perfect alternative. Additionally, family members can assist from afar. Delivering groceries, picking up laundry from the porch or creating a Meal Train are perfect ways to safely help.
If you are grieving because your family can’t cuddle your new bundle of joy, let yourself feel the emotions. Welcoming your emotions during this tumultuous time is incredibly important. If you’ve never tried mindfulness practices, now is a great time to begin. Simple meditations or movement such as yoga can be incredibly powerful in calming your mind and emotions.
The pandemic has changed the way we live in many ways, but it hasn’t changed how we love and support each other. Although family members can’t be together right now to welcome a new baby, they can still dote from afar or help the postpartum mother and her family in a socially distanced way. Remaining mentally stable and healthy is of the utmost importance for both you and your baby, so try to maintain relationships as much as possible. And remember, no matter how you feel, you’re not alone.