Preparing for and giving birth during this pandemic has been stressful for many new parents. Navigating the changes to hospital policies regarding the number of support people present in labour, number of visitors as well as shorter stays after the birth for recovery and feeding support has been challenging. Many new parents also missed out on face to face childbirth education and the opportunity to meet other expecting parents.
Regular support networks such as grandparents, friends and family, child health nurses and new parent groups are not possible in the usual ways because of social isolation and distancing.
The reality is that we are now getting used to this ‘new normal’ and as we have seen in Melbourne recently, lockdowns may come and go. Until we have a vaccine, we as a community need to remain vigilant and many services can not go back to normal.
During this pandemic, symptoms of anxiety have increased for many but for a new parent who commonly already has increased anxiety it has been incredibly challenging. We have seen the rates of calls to helplines such as PANDA increase dramatically.
Tips to try:
- Stay informed but try to limit the amount of news or social media as too much can cause anxiety for yourself and your baby will pick up on this.
- Stay in touch with close friends and family, text messages, phone and skype, facetime, zoom are great options for video chats.
- Go for a walk with your baby in the pram. Even just walking around the block can make you feel so much better. Just being outside and getting some fresh air is great for your mood.
- Close family or friends can help even if in lockdown as this is considered caring for you as a new parent – keep these people to a minimum and use hygiene precautions. Doing your shopping, cleaning, cooking, helping to look after your baby while you have a nap.
- Accept all offers of help – dropping off a meal or running errands for you.
- Take advantage of the high-quality takeaway and delivered meals currently on offer due to the lockdown and lower numbers of customers allowed in their stores.
- Self-care is important – some time to yourself, taking naps, having a bath, reading a book, enjoying a hobby, having a massage and many more.
- Health professionals are still available, many mainly over telehealth or with short face to face appointments or a combination of both. Reach out to those you need, such as child health nurses, lactation consultants, GP’s, paediatricians and they will explain their current service. In some cases, this has increased the number of parents who can access services as online services have made it easier for those who live further away and would have had to travel longer distances.
- Join my online Mothers Group Survive and Enjoy Your Baby Mothers Group (dads welcome too). Meeting other parents helps with social connection, research has shown that new parents’ mental health benefits from this. Mums tell me they feel so much better seeing and interacting with other mums who are facing similar challenges. Facilitated by a maternal and child health nurse so you can get expert advice for all your questions.
- Use helplines when you need them.
PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline 1300 726 306.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline 1800 882 436 for general parenting advice during your baby’s first year of life.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 686 268
- Visit reputable websites such as:
Raising Children -The Australian parenting Website https://raisingchildren.net.au/
The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne https://www.rch.org.au/home/
The Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne https://www.thewomens.org.au/
Even though this time is difficult, being in lockdown or even just limiting numbers of people getting together is also an amazing opportunity for new parents to remain in a safe ‘bubble’ with their baby. Sometimes new parents are overwhelmed with too many visitors and too much differing advice. Some new mums feel they must get out and about for appointments and social occasions before they are ready. The pandemic has allowed parents to stay home and bond with their baby better than ever before, they have gotten to know their cues and patterns well.
The pandemic has also meant many fathers have been able to work from home when they couldn’t traditionally have done this. This has allowed more flexibility around parenting and fathers have been able to bond better with their baby’s as well. My hope is that some of this can continue in future.
Most importantly be kind to yourself, no one has been through a pandemic before, we are all learning how to manage and cope with this. You are not expected to know what to do, ask for the help and support you need and know that you are not alone.
Visit BelindaJoyce.com for more support and advice.
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