How to cope with being a new mum during a global pandemic
Becoming a parent can be isolating at any time but restrictions designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 have made this year even more challenging.
Many new mums (and dads) have been left without valuable support networks, unable to meet up with friends and family face-to-face, attend baby groups or even access practical help with breastfeeding and other parenting issues.
While some things have been continuing in a virtual way online, others have been stopped altogether. And not being able to just invite a friend round for a cup of tea or let your baby socialise with other little ones the same age has taken its toll on many parents.
Ivana Poku, maternal mental health advocate and author of Motherhood - The Unspoken, says: “Becoming a new mum is hard enough at the best of times, so if a new mum has to get to grips with motherhood in isolation, this creates a lot of added pressure and can easily lead to mental health issues.”
Share your worries
According to Ivana, it’s crucial that new parents talk about how they are feeling and don’t just try to cope alone. While face-to-face meet-ups may still be difficult, make time to catch up with people you care about on the phone or over Zoom or instant messaging.
She says: “Being a new mum is a huge shock and something that takes time to get used to so whatever you feel is totally normal and more common than you would have thought. Choose someone you trust and talk to them about how you feel.
Ideally, talk to another mum as she will be able to relate and most likely, you will learn she feels exactly the same.”
Remember that babies and toddlers do not count towards the limit on people meeting up outside so two mums can meet up with their little ones during lockdown in an outdoor space like a park so long as they stay two metres apart. Just taking some time to get some fresh air and see another person face-to-face may make a big difference in how you are feeling and help you develop a strong friendship with someone in a similar situation to you.
Don’t put off seeing your GP
Researchers in Canada found the number of expectant and new mothers suffering from depression had almost tripled during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re pregnant or have a small child and are concerned that you might be feeling low or anxious, speak to your GP or health visitor.
Although many health professionals are offering fewer face-to-face appointments, most will still carry out telephone consultations and will still see you if you are struggling. Surgeries and clinics have strict procedures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and keep you safe so don’t delay seeking help due to the pandemic.
PANDAS, a charity which offers support to people with postnatal depression, has a number of ways you can get support including a helpline, Facebook group and email support service. Find out more here.
Create an online support network
Talking to other new mums on social media and joining groups of like-minded people is a great idea at any time but it is especially important at the moment. There are a number of Facebook groups aimed at parents, including our own Stylish Mum group where you can share your triumphs, talk about anything that is worrying you or just have a giggle. There are also chat forums on websites aimed at parents where you can talk about pretty much any subject under the sun.
Keep an eye out for any mum and baby groups which are taking place over Zoom or are planning to start again when the current restrictions are relaxed. Many groups are looking at ways they can operate safely so parents and their little ones can still benefit from them.
Take time for yourself
One of the most important things is that you are kind to yourself. Get some fresh air, take a bath, practice mindfulness – whatever works to help you feel calm and relaxed. If you have a partner, ask them to take your little one out for a walk so you get some time to yourself. If you are a single parent, consider forming an informal childcare bubble with a friend or family member so you have someone who can look after your baby and give you a much-needed break. Don’t worry about imposing – most people really want to help and you could always form a bubble with another new mum and take it in turns to support each other.
Remember this too shall pass
Finally, and most importantly, remember that nothing lasts forever and even the most difficult challenges will one day be over. Your baby won’t always want to feed every few minutes or wake up throughout the night. Parenting can be exhausting but every stage is only temporary and remembering that it will pass can help you find the strength to keep going on tough days. The pandemic itself will also have an expiration date and the limits and restrictions on our lives are temporary and won’t last forever.
Make a list of all the things you miss doing and then you can enjoy ticking them off when things return to some sort of normal. And don’t forget to keep in touch with us and let us know how you are doing by using the #stylishmumclub tag on your social media posts.
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