If you are reading this, you might be pregnant or newly postpartum or wondering if you need help with postpartum depression and I know how scary it is to welcome your baby with all the things that are happening around the world. I am writing this post 4 months postpartum. And I spent my entire pregnancy & postpartum in the pandemic so I can totally relate. Though I did not experience Postpartum depression, knowing & educating myself about it was of great help.
While not being able to enjoy a baby shower or attend any childbirth class or even a normal doctor’s checkup is so scary; spending the entire time post giving birth with baby’s schedule, not being able to socialize & all the overwhelm during postpartum is also not easy. However, we can always find ways to get through & enjoy the postpartum time with a little preparation. Read about why & how to plan your postpartum care and grab your free cheat sheet.
In this blog post, I am featuring a friend who is a mom & a mental health professional – Kelly Rodriguez. Kelly is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional in Southern California. She offers online therapy and you can schedule a free 15 min consultation here.
Facts on how Pandemic affected postpartum depression from a Mental Health Therapist
While chatting with a friend and a mental health therapist Kelly Rodriguez regarding postpartum needs during the pandemic, here are some facts she shared
Moms are in need of extra care and Mental health support
“During the pandemic, more mothers felt isolation, constant change, fear, the worry of the unknown adding to their mental load of the transition to motherhood. I saw a significant increase and the depression and anxiety were on the rise due to the isolation, lack of support system, and the stressors that came with the pandemic.”
Moms are being hesitant to ask for help with Postpartum depression
“It’s suggested that perinatal anxiety had more than doubled (during the prenatal and postpartum periods) since the beginning of the pandemic. New mothers are facing difficulty asking for help sooner because they assume the postpartum period is expected to be overwhelming and they just need to deal with it.”
Common complaints from moms who took help for postpartum depression
“There are a few themes I hear from moms going through the postpartum period during the pandemic:-
The isolation started either from the moment they couldn’t share the pregnancy news with loved ones, the prenatal appointments without their partner, and the overall emotional turmoil of the changes and regulations.
Another theme often seen is the fear of getting sick and therefore affecting the baby. Given the newness of this virus, there’s so much that it’s still unknown. New mothers are feeling fearful of going outdoors and also of how being hone the whole time can impact the baby’s social skills and emotional well-being.
The last theme is the feeling of sadness due to the emotional losses they have faced during the pandemic. Mothers are grieving the normalcy of this period that is supposed to be happy and full of joy. Given the stressors of the pandemic, the risk factors for higher prenatal and postpartum mood disorders are more prevalent.”
Some things that can help moms cope better & prevent Postpartum Depression
The facts seem more prevalent that pandemic sure has an impact on a mom’s mental health. It is high time we shift the focus on moms to prepare & plan their postpartum better.
Honestly, my entire pregnancy was in the middle of the pandemic. And almost until the end of my pregnancy, I had little or no help. Juggling with a toddler who was barely 14 months; scared to go out & meet people, and all the confusion was my major cause to plan my postpartum care. Somethings that really helped me are:
1. Knowing the Facts
Though there are lots of researches going on with respect to COVID and Pregnancy/ baby’s health; there is also miscommunication that is spreading fear and anxiety in expecting & new moms. Talk to a reliable source (a healthcare practitioner). Follow CDC for accurate information. Knowing the facts help reduce anxiety and take the mental load off. Believe me, it does make a lot of difference.
2. Express your concerns
While knowing the facts makes you aware, it does not solve the concerns in the mom’s brain. Talk to your partner, friends, or family members, and express how you are feeling. If needed get help from a medical practitioner – this will help clear your mind and avoid rising any kind of anxiety.
On the other hand, practicing mindfulness, breathing exercises, journaling helps you clear your mental load. Here are some positive affirmations from Kelly to help you. I recommend having these handy in your postpartum caddy or stick them on a wall in your room to help you feel you are not alone.
Here are some positive affirmations from Kelly to practice during the postpartum period:
I am the mother my baby needs
I am learning every day
All moms have good and bad days
I will allow myself to rest to be a better mom
Today I embrace self-compassion
I know my baby’s needs best, I trust my choices
This is a season and I have the strength to get through itAffirmations from Kelly Rodriguez
3. Stay Connected with Family & Friends
Though pandemic makes it harder to socialize, being connected with people through phone, video calls or text messages help you stay sane. Always find your mom village to vent out or get tips to manage (I always feel talking to other moms helps as they might already have the solution in place).
I feel very thankful to all my friends & family members who kept me engaged throughout my pregnancy & postpartum. It was a major thing that helped me during the pandemic.
4. Get Fresh Air when you can
Of course with all the precautionary measures you could take! Try to get out for a walk when you can. Or even if you could go on a drive, do it.
Fresh air helps with mood disorders and also refreshes your mind.
5. Prepare for help during postpartum
Talk to your partner, family, or a friend who can help you with basics during the initial postpartum days.
They can either help with food; watch the baby while you rest; babysit your older child if you have one, or help you with basic necessities or grocery shopping. Always have a village to back you up in need!
I did plan to get as much help I could despite the pandemic with friends & family I could trust which helped me a lot to recover quickly & stay sane managing two little kids under 2 years.
6. Have a lower expectation
It is very important to have low expectations. When your expectations are low, your mind will automatically stop expecting things. This helped us a lot during my postpartum.
We expected to have sleepless nights, we expected the postpartum to be restless & busy and that prepped us to manage things better.
Here is what Kelly – a mom & a mental health therapist says about expectations during pandemic postpartum.
“There are many expectations when a baby is on the way. It is exciting to know that a little one– Kelly Rodriguez
will be joining your family. However, it is not often mentioned that motherhood is also hard! No
matter how much you may have planned the pregnancy or if it was a complete surprise, the
reality of the postpartum period is not always what you may have heard of. At least, not the
whole picture. The emotional, mental, and physical changes are too many and it is important to
take care of your needs to get through the postpartum period, which can feel lonely and
7. Plan to get help online for Breastfeeding
While it is difficult to go for childbirth or breastfeeding classes in person due to the pandemic, you can opt to do some online courses that would be of great benefit.
I personally missed all the support I got for breastfeeding during my first pregnancy from the breastfeeding clinic & classes in person. Here is one of my favorite breastfeeding class that is virtual and affordable to benefit moms.
8. Find ways to distract
Pick up a hobby. Or something that entertains you to distract the overwhelm of postpartum. Of course, spending time with the baby is great & helps you feel good. But having a me-time once in a while is a good chance to help you refresh.
You can choose to read a book or Netflix while you nurse the baby. Or painting, writing, or anything that you like doing.
Here are some basic suggestions from Kelly:
“Go outdoors to get some sunlight and fresh air even if it’s for short periods of time.
Talk to people you trust (partner, friends, relatives, medical provider) if “you are not feeling like yourself” and it’s impacting your daily functioning beyond The baby blues mood changes that don’t last more than a couple of weeks-meet your basic needs (food, water intake, rest).
Don’t compare your journey to other moms.
Connect with people who are positive and encouraging (there are online support groups available). You don’t have to wait until something feels unbearable to reach out or ask for help.
Focus on the things that you can control in your day and that you’re enjoying. You’re doing better than may feel at times.
Remember the postpartum period is only for a time, it doesn’t last forever.”– Kelly Rodriguez
9. Plan to join a Babycare class online
Joining an online baby care class helps you understand the basics of baby care. Here is an affordable online class on Newborn Basics you can sign up to help you prepare better.
You can also join a few mom’s support groups online to socialize with other moms. I extensively interact with a couple of mom groups on Facebook which helps me feel I am not alone in my journey.
10. Prepare a postpartum plan
You can download my postpartum plan template to help you prepare for your postpartum. I have included all that I did to prepare for my postpartum during a pandemic.
I’d like to remind you that the transition to motherhood can be both happy and hard. You areFrom Kelly Rodriguez
allowed to have moments when you enjoy being a mom and times when you feel
overwhelmed. Both are valid and are an unavoidable part of the journey of being a mom.
It’s okay, you are not doing motherhood “wrong.” Keep going, embrace the mess and the
beauty of this time. You’re doing better than you may think you are!
Remember mama, you are not alone & this might seem long but it sure will pass. Please feel free to reach out through email or social media if you have any questions or if you just want someone to listen to you. I love connecting with moms! ❤