Being pregnant or newly postpartum comes with it’s own new feelings and strange emotions. Being pregnant or newly postpartum during a pandemic - now that’s a whole other level of stress and anxiety.
Maybe you had to give birth alone, without the partner that you wanted there and who should’ve been there supporting you. Maybe the doula or midwife that you spent a great deal of time getting to know and trusting to support you and your baby during labor and delivery was not allowed in the room. The people that you had lined up to help you adjust to new mom life are suddenly not allowed to come within 6 feet of you and have to meet your baby through glass.
I remember when I became a mom for the first (and second) time. I couldn’t wait to show off my kids to the world. We had visitors arrive at our room about two hours after my daughter was born. When my son entered the world, we had visitors that afternoon. A part of me wanted to show off the babies that I worked so hard to grow and develop, but I also wanted the recognition of doing this amazing act and birthing these little humans.
You DESERVE to be celebrated, but, with social distancing and strict hospital standards, you have to settle for Zoom meetings and Facetime calls. Any new baby gifts that arrive at your house, you have to be strict and, almost obsessively, spray with disinfectant and then thoroughly scrub yourself instead of sitting down and marveling at how adorable everything is!
Mama, none of this is fair! We all feel a sense of isolation as new mothers and this is taking that feeling to a whole new level. In fact, this just downright sucks. This feeling of isolation and “what if” can lead to a lot of anxiety . . . especially if you are like me and enjoy being in control of things. This is just something we can’t control.
During a crisis like this, mothers are even more susceptible to developing Postpartum Depression or Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD).
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Even though this is happening, there are still some things you can do to improve your mental health.
1. Grieve the Experience You Expected and Deserved
It is perfectly okay to feel a sense of loss and of being robbed. You totally were. You deserved to have that baby shower and have people rubbing that amazing belly and doting on every move you made. You can’t personally introduce your baby to all of your family and friends. Be angry about that; it’s ok. Once you go through the process of grieving, you can start to heal. Healing will allow you to still be grateful for all that you have and have done.
2. Talk to Other New Moms or Mom Friends
I have two very close friends that are currently pregnant. Both of their spouses were not allowed to enter the 20 week ultrasound (which is the big one) and cannot attend their doctor appointments. They talk to me very frequently about their emotions and their fears/concerns moving forward. It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a village for the prenatal portion of this journey. You are not alone, mama!
3. Limit Your News Sources
Even for people who aren’t pregnant or postpartum, the news can really suck the life and happiness out of you. Not to mention all of the debating and conflicting reports. This will only increase your anxiety and feeling of isolation. If you need to watch the news or feel compelled, limit your time, and try to focus on only one main source. You can also call your OBGYN or child’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns!
4. Find a Therapist or Support Group
There is no shame in therapy. In fact, I have sought therapy several times in my life and have benefited from it immensely. It’s important to find a therapist that specializes in postpartum or pregnancy anxiety/depression.
5. Give Your Anxiety a Name
Your anxiety exists inside of you and she controls you. It may sound absolutely ridiculous, but it is super beneficial to give your anxiety a name. When you feel those emotions building up inside of you, you might have an emotional release by saying, “Calm the F*&^ down, Nancy.” If even reading that made you smile, go ahead and try it. Laughing helps anxiety and will make you feel so much better
Although this may be a very stressful time in your life, just remember, it WILL pass. Your family will get to see that precious nugget that you gracefully and beautifully brought into our world. Hang in there and enjoy those baby snuggles while they are there. I can tell you that those, just like a sweet summer breeze, come and go very quickly . . . .
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