For a lot of women, having a baby in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant having to accept it is not what they dreamed, hoped or imagined it would be.
Many of the activities normally associated with having a baby such as hospital visits, family gatherings or close friends dropping in for a cuppa, are now having to be put on hold for both the safety of the parents and the baby. Undoubtedly, no one expected the arrival of a newborn to turn out this way and it is perfectly normal for mums and families to feel they have been robbed of a beautiful experience as they bring their newborn baby home. Even the simple pleasure of asking a family member or close friend to hold your baby is not possible right now.
While it may take some time to adjust to the times we’re in, here are some positive and helpful ways to help families deal with bringing a newborn baby home in the times we’re in:
- Accept that it is okay to grieve this new Covid-19 reality and that feelings of anger, frustration and sadness may be heightened during this time.
- Try to be constructive and try to change the narrative to think positively about your situation. Think about all the good things in your life and remember that this will not be forever.
- Bringing a newborn baby home during these times of isolation can put pressure on a couple in isolation, especially if you are first-time parents and are naturally feeling anxious about caring for your little one. Try from the outset to work as a team, help each other out with chores, meals, feeds and small breaks from bub.
- If you are finding it difficult to say “no” to friends, family and loved ones about meeting the new bub in person, before talking to them, write a nice, calm, gentle script highlighting that you are social distancing to keep you and the baby safe. Before deciding exactly what you are going to say, make sure you are on the same page with your partner about this (and talk to your GP or community healthcare worker about it, if you are feeling uncertain about what the current social distancing guidelines are).
- Be creative about using technology to your advantage, for example, to create treasured family memories such as making the birth announcement really special, send videos of your newborn and put together an incredible digital photo album. Focus on the magic and the joy it can bring you and others.
- If in the first weeks or months of bringing your newborn home you are feeling overwhelmed, be aware that these feelings are okay and do not beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself and others.
- Maintain open, clear communication with your partner about your feelings and ask them to do the same.
- If you reach a point where you feel you may need more support, reach out for help, especially if you have concerns about coping in isolation or have fears surrounding developing post-natal depression. Some of the signs that you may have PND include: lack of confidence, feeing unable to cope and negative thoughts.
- Be aware that there are a lot of resources still available to help mums at home, so there is no need for you to feel alone, abandoned or isolated. You can talk to your GP or look at more specific online websites to suit your needs. For example, if you need medical support for you or your baby, consider contacting Health Direct on 1800 022 2222 or healthdirect.gov.au or www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/first-days-after-birth/. There is also the Australian Breastfeeding Association (www.breastfeeding.asn.au/.
- If you notice that you are arguing with your partner more so than usual, be aware of the strain this can place on your relationship and ask for professional help to prioritise your mental health. Relationships Australia NSW is offering free phone counselling to any family, couple or individual during this time.
- Remember to think about regular self-care, both as a couple and an individual. Try not to sweat the small stuff such as if the house is a mess or the dishes have piled up.
- Try to stay connected with your partner and find time to do a fun activity together to help you stay connected as a couple such as cooking, gardening, watching a favourite film on TV or playing a game.
- Maintain personal self-care – anything from taking a bubble bath to talking by video link to your best friend, going for a walk or doing a workout at home.
- While it may not be possible to see friends, parents and siblings, remember to find the positive in the situation and pencil in a cuppa with mum or your bestie via a video chat – space it out over the week so you have something to look forward to.
If you would like to organise some over-the-phone counselling with one of our counsellors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 364 277. We are continuing to offer our usual counselling services for couples, individuals and families over the phone and via video link.