This strange time is one part of motherhood that we, as mothers, will never forget. Constantly juggling our children’s behavior, school work, desires and needs with the ever-changing social requirements, is a daunting task – a task that may never be mastered. We are overwhelmed with the daily challenges they face to ensure safety of their family and others. But, with faith and trust in God, we can DECIDE TO RISE! However, different stages in motherhood can make deciding to rise very challenging. What about being pregnant or bringing home a baby during the pandemic? Scary – to say the least! It is important that we are supported just as much, if not more than we were, prior to the pandemic. Mothers during pregnancy or mothers who have given birth recently (the first 12 months postpartum), are at risk of developing depression and/or anxiety. This is especially true during this unprecedented time.
Here are some warning signs of postpartum depression and/or anxiety:
Commons symptoms of postpartum depression and/or anxiety include:
- Never feeling well
- Angry or upset all the time
- Having trouble bonding with the baby
- Doubting ability to take care of the baby
- Not smiling
- Constant worrying
- Being irrationally overwhelmed with the household duties
How has support changed due to COVID-19?
Traditionally, family and friends would visit the new mother during pregnancy and maternity leave to help her around the house or watch the children so she could take a break. Times have changed. Now, during the pandemic, it is respectful if family and friends refrain from asking to visit or hold the baby. Everyone should have the understanding that any person who visits, poses a risk of passing COVID-19 or other illnesses to the vulnerable family. Consequently, the mother may feel very alone and isolated. She may not have her mother come stay with her, a friend prepare a meal in her house, or a neighbor stop by to watch the kids so she can shower. Attending breastfeeding meetings, mom groups, or even going to the store for an hour poses risks. These normal interactions are not currently recommended – leading to more isolation. The saying, “it takes a village” is a hard concept to grasp right now, especially since human interaction with others is less than ideal. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between a new mother adequately and intentionally protecting her newborn and family, and the mother developing depression or anxiety because of being isolated.
Here are some suggestions of ways to receive or give support during this difficult time:
Instead of visiting, family and friends can support the pregnant or new mother by:
- Stay in contact with her so she can trust your listening ear
- Drop off meals/create a meal train
- Encourage light exercise (even a walk around the block each day)
- Drop off self-care items for the mother
- Video chat with her so she can see a familiar face
- Help her lean on God
- Send a card in the mail to let her know you are thinking about and praying for her
- Encourage her to seek help from a professional (Telehealth is a good option for a busy mother. She would not have to leave the house and risk exposure, find a babysitter, or find time to devote to the commute.)
Mothers can also find support through many online networks.
You are not alone.
Just imagine if the mother’s community would help identify and minimize postpartum depression and anxiety – it could save lives and create better home lives for so many families. If these symptoms or scenarios sound like you or someone you know, please reach out and seek help. You are not alone – it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that must be corrected. In fact, one in seven moms experience some type of emotional imbalance in the postpartum period. Suffering can be minimized and possibly eliminated. Everyone deserves to feel their best – especially mom!
Anna Moats-Gibson, MSN, RN, is a faith-filled mom of 3 with another little one on the way. She is very passionate about her role as a postpartum RN and patient educator and loves to share her experiences and evidence-based tips on how to thrive as a mother and a woman.