The postpartum period is a difficult time. I usually discuss with the new moms I encounter how romanticized the postpartum period is in America. The reality is much more exhausting and encompasses more sadness and isolation for many moms than most would expect. The result of the difference in expectation versus reality, is that many moms feel guilt. New mothers also may sense that they cannot come forward with their true feelings due to fear of being judged, discriminated, etc.
Now, this reality is even more apparent. The COVID-19 Pandemic has created even higher emotions and feelings of isolation. A new mother who is delivering right now will lack the same supports that would usually be available to her. For example, support groups and lactation groups are canceled in many places currently to maintain social distancing. It is more difficult and scarier to get out of the house. This should be your season of receiving but instead everyone is on lockdown and afraid to receive anything from anyone. In general, the support system that was there looks different and can cause new mothers stress.
So, what supports are still currently in place? Where can new mothers turn?
Telehealth is the first option. This is likely not going to go away even after the pandemic. Many online support groups, therapists and doctors’ offices are offering telehealth right now. This may be an even more attractive options to new moms who dread the thought of getting themselves and a newborn anywhere on time.
There are also online support groups available. While this is not a new type of support, it definitely has increased during this time. Perinatal Support International offers online support groups as well as the Postpartum Stress Center.
There are social media sites, like on Facebook. Available online support at 3:00 AM when you are up and feeding your babe is exactly what some mothers need. I know the overnight period can be the hardest for new moms. I personally found this helpful. I would scroll through posts in the middle of the night and read posts of other mothers experiencing similar things and found comfort knowing I was not alone.
There are ways to communicate with family and friends online via skype, zoom, facetime and Facebook messenger. Do not be afraid to utilize the services that 2020 provides us. Ask for a meal to be delivered via Doordash, ask them to order something on Amazon and ship it to your house.
Finally, know that you are not alone. Traditionally, 1 in 5 to 7 women experience postpartum depression (PSI International). Also, 1 in 10 spouses experience it as well. I suspect that this number is even higher during the pandemic (PSI International). Especially with the visitor restrictions at the hospital of only one visitor, only one parent in NICU, and a lack of support, it is really the perfect storm.
Please reach out and comment below with questions, concerns, or additional resources.
It takes a village. Stay Healthy,
Traci Schank, LCSW
See https://www.postpartum.net for more information and information on the above statistics.