Whether you’re a first-time mom or an old pro, being postpartum in the era of COVID-19 presents hurdles to your family.
From disrupted sleep patterns to sibling jealousy, having a newborn in the house isn’t for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, if you’re expecting (or postpartum) in a pandemic, you’re staring down a set of challenges that are even more significant. Much of the common sense advice we’ve relied on in the past no longer applies. How do you sleep when the baby sleeps if you have no help? How do you get any time to yourself when your older kids are at home, rather than school? How do you rely on your village when you’re under strict orders to isolate?
Accept (and mourn) your situation
Unfortunately, virtual contact is an imperfect substitute for face-to-face interaction. If you had envisioned a series of beautiful bonding moments between your baby, the grandparents and your close friends, it might be difficult to accept that it isn’t possible during our current circumstances.
And it’s okay to be sad about it.
Take some time to come to terms with your feelings and decide how and when you’d like to reach out to others to show off your new bundle of joy. Regular check-ins via phone or video chat can help keep you connected and your spirits up.
Do what you need to do – and don’t feel guilty
After a new baby’s arrival, most parents are in survival mode – essentially a free pass to do whatever it takes to get through those first few weeks. Cereal for dinner? Sure! Extra screentime for the older kids? Pass the remote. (You could also check out our list of fun indoor games and activities for your other child(ren) to do!) Skipping laundry day? Clean clothes are overrated anyway. If anything, the added stress of social distancing guidelines should give you even more reason to go easy on yourself. This is not the time to be everything to everyone. As long as your kids are fed, rested and clothed, you’ve done your part.
There are solutions, no matter how imperfect, to every problem. For example, if you have friends and family that may have ordinarily come by to provide company and a home-cooked meal, they might be up for ordering delivery or leaving a casserole on your front porch instead. If you have the time to plan ahead and a relative that’s willing, you could have them self-isolate with you in your home until the baby comes, for an extra pair of hands. While it can be hard to maintain a flexible mindset, particularly when you’re freshly postpartum, it could be the key to reducing your anxiety and making life easier for yourself. (We also like meditation apps like Calm and Headspace to deal with stress. Give ’em a try… they’re free to start!)
If your expected due date is within the next couple of months, it’s natural to be worried, fearful and anxious about what lies ahead. Make sure to keep your healthcare provider informed about your concerns before and after the baby is born – they may have insight to help ease your mind and put your fears at rest. Take care of yourself and rely on your (virtual) network as much as possible. You can do this!
Kimberly Leung hails from Toronto and moonlights as a freelance writer and content creator. She likes her coffee regular, her cereal sugary, and her meals cooked by someone else. She loves her kids but she can’t wait for the day they stop waking up at 5:30AM (and no, a later bedtime doesn’t work). She lives in a tiny house with her husband, 2 kids and their middle-aged cat.