The last 18 months have been life changing for everyone around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so much of our daily lives, including the way we spend time with each other. For many pregnant women and new moms, this may have meant getting less support because of social distancing and not having family and friends around in the same way as before.
Getting support may look different in our new normal
It’s safe to say that nobody could’ve ever imagined their pregnancy and delivery would be affected by a pandemic. Although we are seeing many improvements across the country, some communities are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. If you’re pregnant or recently had a baby, it’s normal to feel worried or stressed about the possibility of new restrictions and limitations. But you don’t have to face it alone. There are ways to get the support you need. Take a look at the tips below:
- Join an online support group for pregnant women and new parents. Check with your local library for groups within your community.
- Take a childbirth education class online so you know what to expect during pregnancy and when your baby arrives. Practice any breathing and relaxation methods you learn in your class.
- Set-up weekly group or family video chats to stay in touch
- Consider counseling or therapy services to help you cope with any emotions or stress you may be feeling. It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to manage your emotions alone.
- Look into hiring a doula to help support you and your partner through the labor and delivery of your baby. Doulas are non-clinical professionals who provide physical, emotional and informational support to mothers before, during and after childbirth, including support during all stages of labor.
After you give birth
- When you bring your baby home, use video chats to introduce your baby to the family.
- Ask family and friends to prepare healthy freezer meals and drop them off at your doorstep. This will help cut down on tasks that take up time, allow you to rest and spend time with your baby.
- If family and friends want to meet the baby, talk to them about wearing a mask and keeping it on during their visit.
- Ask a neighbor or loved one to help with your grocery or shopping for items for your baby. Tell them they should leave the shopping bags outside your door to avoid contact.
- Ask your partner to take care of house chores and run any errands as you recover and heal from birth.
What to do if you don’t have many options to get support
Not having social support during such an important chapter in life can bring many emotions, including frustration, loneliness and isolation—all of which can have a serious impact on mental health. In fact, recent data from a small study show that symptoms of depression and anxiety were higher in pregnant and postpartum after the pandemic began (compared to before the pandemic). This increase was worse among women who reported more loneliness and stressors directly caused by the pandemic, such as job loss and exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
If you are feeling very sad or think you’re depressed, tell your health care provider right away. Having major depression is different than feeling down for a few days. Learn the signs and symptoms of depression during and after pregnancy.
For more information and support:
- Postpartum Support International, 800-944-4PPD (4773)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-NAMI (6264)