The postpartum period is hard enough without a global pandemic in the mix. After lugging around another human for almost 10 months, then doing likely the physically most demanding thing you’ve ever done (getting that baby out), you are then expected to start recovering physically and emotionally, without very much sleep, and with another human now entirely dependent upon you. It is almost like a universal joke on its own… let alone having to do this during a pandemic.
Here are some tips to help you through the isolation, adapted from the book Why Did No One Tell Me This? : The Doulas’ Guide for Expectant Parents by Natalia Hailes and Ash Spivak, published by Running Press, a division of Hachette Book Group.
Take Care of Yourself
We always say that taking care of yourself is taking care of your baby. Don’t forsake those showers. Sleep when your baby sleeps throughout the day (really, do it!) Try and find 2-5 minutes just for yourself each day, even if it means hiding in the bathroom. Step outside and breathe some fresh air. Play your favorite song. These couple minutes of freedom throughout the day can truly do wonders!
Get Support Ahead of Time
Particularly if you are someone who suffers from anxiety or depression, it is important to line up mental health support before the baby gets here. The good news is everything is virtual now, so you can have your therapy sessions from home while taking care of your babe and wearing pajama pants (believe us, It’s not easy to leave the house with a newborn!). There are also virtual support groups for new parents. They are worth it.
Additionally, we recommend finding lactation support ahead of time. These sessions are now also being done with great success virtually. Add gift certificates for these services to your baby registry. This is way more important than another onesie, we promise!
Set Expectations in Advance
Everyone is going to feel differently about visitors and baby exposure during this time. Set expectations for your family and friends ahead of time. Let them know if you require masks upon entry, if you aren’t letting anyone visit yet, if they’ll only be allowed outside if they come over, etc. And send this to everybody so poor Aunt Jocelyn doesn’t feel like you are singling her out.
You do You
You’re likely going to be hearing lots of opinions, recommendations, and well-meaning advice. Take what you want from it all but remember ultimately you know your baby best. It’s ok to decide that some of the advice and recommendations don’t work for you and your situation. Sometimes the postpartum fog makes it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing, but you DO. You’re doing great!
It’s easy to feel lonely during normal postpartum times and lose track of the last time you spoke to another adult. During a pandemic, this may feel even more magnified as you will likely have fewer visitors and fewer places to go. Reach out to your peeps! Join those Zoom parties, use FaceTime, and ask for help as needed. We are not built to do this alone!
Repeat after us: This too Shall Pass
With all the uncertainty right now, this may be hard to believe. But, as they say, the only constant is change. So it is actually impossible for you to feel however you are feeling forever. When you’re stuck in a moment of feeling totally overwhelmed and scared, let those emotions flow through. Feel all the feels! It is totally normal and expected for you to feel that way and it absolutely does not make you a bad parent. In fact, confronting your emotions truthfully as they arise is taking care of yourself! Remember to get support as needed. And, continue to remind yourself that you will not feel like this forever. It is temporary.
You’ve got this! You’re going to be ok. Your baby will be ok. You’re everything each other needs! Take it one day at a time. One diaper change at a time. Before you know it, your baby will be crawling away from you!