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This is such a challenging time to have a baby. Many new mothers are struggling with isolation, anxiety and depression. Postpartum recovery during the pandemic is not easy.
The 4th trimester is hard enough under “normal” circumstances. But now, many new families have been left to navigate the early days of parenting a newborn completely alone.
It shouldn’t be this way.
Childbirth is supposed to be a community and family-supported event. New moms are meant to be surrounded by the support of family and friends during this time.
The struggle is real
If you are struggling from the effects of isolation and social-distancing as a new mother, I want to validate your struggle and let you know that your pain is valid and real.
… and if you are experiencing a postpartum mood disorder such as depression or anxiety, this time of isolation may only be escalating that problem. I am not trying to negate that fact.
If this is the case with you, please don’t feel shamed by this post. It’s usually not possible to overcome these feelings just by “willing” them away. Postpartum mental health is not something that we have much control over. Although there are things we can try to help reduce anxiety and stress, the problem doesn’t often go away that easily.
But, I’m excited to share that there is a silver lining! I’d also like to share a hopeful perspective that may help you to embrace this time with greater vision, hope and joy. 🙂
The silver lining of postpartum recovery in a pandemic
While you may be grieving the loss of how you envisioned this time should be like, I am hoping that you can still grab onto this special newborn season, enjoy the slow-down and get creative with ways to care for yourself.
As difficult as this time may be, I want to share with you a different perspective that might just help you to embrace a more optimistic or hopeful attitude towards this season of social distancing.
For starters… did you know that midwives in the U.K. are reporting that social distancing is having very positive effects on newborns?
Why Newborns Love Social-Distancing
Although it’s completely normal for newborns to lose weight during the first couple days after birth, it usually takes about 2 weeks for babies to regain that lost weight and return to their original birth weight.
However, during the pandemic, it seems that many newborns (in these midwives’ care) are returning to birth weight much sooner. This is good news!
The benefits of skin-to-skin bonding
The midwives believe that without the steady stream of visitors that is common after a baby’s birth, new mothers and babies are enjoying uninterrupted skin-to-skin time, better bonding experiences and more successful breastfeeding sessions.
Research shows that when moms and babies are allowed extended skin-to-skin bonding time, it significantly improves breastfeeding outcomes. This apparently seems to be the case. (Yay!)
So, in other words… when a newborn has her mom’s complete attention, she is a happy camper!
Improved breastfeeding and maternal outcomes?
Has this pandemic improved breastfeeding outcomes? What about maternal outcomes?
If women continue to enjoy extended skin-to-skin bonding time with their newborns, many birth and lactation professionals predict that this might be true. This prediction is based on what they are currently seeing plus previous research regarding the benefits of skin-to-skin bonding related to breastfeeding.
While the evidence at this point is only anecdotal, we do know (from previous studies) that increased skin-to-skin time does improve breastfeeding outcomes. (source)
In addition to improved breastfeeding outcomes, skin-to-skin bonding time is also known to benefit a new mother’s health. This special bonding time promotes healing, lowers a mom’s stress levels and decreases her risk for postpartum mood disorders. (source) This is also very good news!
New vision for postpartum
In spite of the lack of physical support right now, many new moms are enjoying a sweet cuddly postpartum experience during this time.
Instead of focusing on all the negatives of isolation, they are choosing to accept this time as the precious gift that it is!
A change of attitude may really help you too…
Think about the flip side of isolation… this can be a chance to embrace this special newborn season and “soak in” all the sweetness and cuddles of your newborn without the interruptions or distractions of visitors.
You may also have more time for self-care and sleep!
The newborn season is one of those times in life that flies by so quickly. In fact, many mothers regret not slowing down. They later grieve how they missed out on this precious time to rock, hold and snuggle their babies.
(By the way, no mom ever says, “I wish I hadn’t held my baby so much.” – Nope… never!)
Well… now you have that time. What a gift! I encourage you to embrace it and IGNORE your house and chores. If ignoring your house is too hard for you, go into your bedroom, close the door and take a baby-moon retreat with your newborn!
Once you are safe inside your bedroom, you may be able to have some outside help with cooking and housework.
It’s not too late to solicit some help, either. You can find some helpful tips in this post.
Ask for help!
Your postpartum recovery during the pandemic does not need to be a stressful time without help. There are ways that you can get help. even while social distancing.
In fact, I have listed some creative ideas in this post: 13 Tips for How to Survive Social Distancing with a Newborn. Please check it out!
By the way, it’s okay to grieve and still be grateful!
For many women right now, this season is filled with grief and joy. Both these emotions are perfectly acceptable and certainly understood. You may feel confused by your conflicting feelings, but this is actually quite common during postpartum recovery (even without a pandemic!)
One of the best ways to care for your emotional health is to take some time to process your pregnancy and baby’s birth. This can really help your emotional recovery and acceptance of your current situation.
You can also make a “gratitude list” and list out all the things that you are grateful for. This simple exercise has gotten me out of a deep “funk” on several occasions!
Get a postpartum plan
Now, more than ever, you really NEED a postpartum plan.
If you are still pregnant, it’s VERY important that you create a postpartum plan so that you are not “winging it” all alone.
Even with social distancing, there are still some creative ways to get outside help. If you have help for meals and chores, you can spend the first 2 weeks resting and bonding with your new baby!
I recommend the 5-5-5 Rule for Postpartum Recovery for a very sweet postpartum baby-moon experience!
What “positives” have you seen during your pandemic postpartum recovery?
🙂 Please share in the comments….