The COVID-19 crisis has changed just about every facet of daily life--from childbirth to maternity leaves. Now, experts are concerned that new mothers are at greater risk for postpartum depression due to the extreme stress that comes with social isolation and distancing.
Rebecca Weinberg is a psychologist at the Alexis Joy D'Achille Center For Perinatal Mental Health in Pittsburgh, PA. In an interview with Today Parents, she said that she's concerned because women are telling her about how they no longer are able to have contact with their parents during labor and delivery or after the birth of the baby. Weinberg said that the lack of support for new moms from their cherished family and friends in labor and even at home after is detrimental to their mental health.
Related: Leave Behind Isolation and Create a Village
As women are sometimes made to give birth with minimal staff and family present, and social-distancing for the elderly looms as extra-important since they belong to more at-risk groups, new mamas find themselves feeling very alone.
Sarah Piett is a new mom who finally had a little boy, Brooks, after years of infertility. She tells Today Parents that even though she was desperate to become a mom, she feels isolated and alone. She misses the maternity leave she believed she'd have--one in which her friends and family could be a part of and she could have support from moms' groups and even walks around a mall.
Sarah scored high on the diagnostic test for postpartum depression when she went for her six-week check-up. She got a referral for a therapist appointment because her doctor felt it important she have someone to talk to.
Not to mention help her experience around her first-born be a positive one. Research suggests that the experience new parents have with their first children, including whether they get postpartum depression and the level of which they do, affects the likelihood of having another child.
We constantly preach about how it takes a village to raise a child, but what do we do to help mamas when the village is suddenly taken away without any inkling of when it may return?
Most importantly, experts recommend connection. If you feel depressed or isolated with your new baby in this weird and isolating time, there's nothing to be ashamed of. None of us have ever battled new motherhood in situations like this, and you're not alone. Consider joining our Mothering Forums for connection and friendship with moms going through similar things. There's also FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Marco Polo, HouseParty, Google Hangouts and a plethora of other resources to keep in touch with.
Related: Simple Ways To Maintain Connection With Your Partner
Additionally, make use of resources available. The CDC offers some tips and resources for managing stress, anxiety and depression, and you can find some useful help. This article from PostpartumDepression.org is full of helpful resources for connection and postpartum support as well. Postpartum Support International is another wealth of information and resources to turn to if you need support.
Remember these everyday things for home, too, Mama:
- Get fresh air and sun as regularly as you can. Even if you can't get sun, get some fresh air. Breath it in and let it oxygenate your brain.
- Drink lots of water. We mean lots. Water is key to so many body and brain functions, and especially to breastfeeding. Drink a lot, and then drink some more to be sure you're staying hydrated.
- Sleep as much as you can. Truly. Everything is worse when we're sleep-deprived, so do the best you can to get as much restorative rest as you can. Embrace naps, and embrace sleeping when the baby sleeps. You'll be better for it.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Positivity is science and makes a big difference in the tone of our day. Use it to set the tone of your days, and to review when things are rough.
- Just say, "No," to news overload. The world is full of it and it's a rabbit hole you can't ever get out of sometimes once you've gone down. Now is not the time to let your mind be consumed with news that usually brings more of the same--anxiety and stress. Limit it, and fill your time with positive and uplifting information.
- Love Yourself. You love your baby. Just because you're feeling the effects of depression, you're not a bad mom or a mom who doesn't love her child. New motherhood is tough anyway, and postpartum depression is real. Throw in a world pandemic? It's a lot, mama. It's a lot. Love yourself and know that there's help...we're here for you and we'll get through this together.
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