Birth, Postpartum

Postpartum During Coronavirus: The Unique Struggle Of New Moms In 2020

Having a Baby and Being Postpartum During Coronavirus and Social Distancing

Hey momma, I know this isn’t what you had in mind. Chances are when you envisioned bringing a baby into the world, you didn’t envision this. You did the work and took the classes. Postpartum during coronavirus was not what you had in mind.

You prepared the nursery. And yet here you are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic during a season of your life that is supposed to be full of joy and community.

Joy and community are still here, it just might look a little different.

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You Have Permission to Grieve Your Birth and Postpartum Experience

If you feel like part of your experience was taken from you, it’s okay to grieve the loss of whatever dream and picture you had. Grieving doesn’t make you ungrateful. Feeling cheated out of something doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate what is. We grieve the loss of an idea, a hope, a vision we had. Humans grieve changes all the time and it’s healthy to do so. When we give ourselves space to grieve, we allow ourselves to acknowledge our emotions instead of suppressing them. When we choose not to suppress, we take back power. If you need to grieve your birth experience, your coming home experience, your “welcoming baby to the world” experience, it’s okay. You can be thankful, loving, and grieve at the same time.

Adapting to the Change of Having a Baby During Coronavirus

It may sound cliche, but sometimes unexpected changes can be very beautiful. This takes off some of the pressure for things to look and feel just the way you imagined. Unexpected things can reduce the external pressure you may internalize from others to look or feel a certain way. It gives a kind of freedom that doesn’t always come with things falling right into place.

The Impact of Social Distance on the Family with a New Baby

Postpartum can be a lonely season- your body is changed in so many ways. Your hormones are going through big fluctuations. You are learning a brand new baby and new rhythms and you often don’t understand yourself, let alone see how anyone else could understand you. The partnership (if applicable) you knew is taking on a new role. Social distancing means that you probably don’t have visitors- no family or friends to sit on your couch, cuddle the baby, and hear your stories. You may have less access to asking the question “How did you do this?” or “Does she look okay?” There are likely fewer places to get out to as a new family (when you’re ready to) and less social spaces to introduce your baby and your changed family.

bringing baby home during coronavirus and social distancing

If social distancing impacted your birthing situation, you may be noticing the impact of that. Perhaps you weren’t able to have that birth photographer or doula like you planned. Maybe it meant that your mom or sister couldn’t be in the room with you. You may feel like there are fewer people to join in those moments and help to validate and recall your birth and early postpartum experiences. This could mean that there were fewer people in the hospital to help take care of the baby, leaving you more exhausted. Perhaps you were discharged earlier than you would have liked so that you could be moved out of the hospital as Coronavirus rates increased.

For many families, social distancing due to Coronavirus has impacted work situations whether that is the loss of work, a move to work from home, or working in public with more emphasis on staying safe. We honor that this can be a stressful transition during an already big life transition.

RELATED: Communicating with Your Partner after Baby

Every postpartum story is different. However, being postpartum during coronavirus comes with challenges that no generation of women has dealt with before and momma, I want to honor the bravery it took to pioneer this time and season.

Permission to Celebrate

Earlier I gave you permission to grieve, but I also want to give you permission to celebrate. It is okay to celebrate even when the world is going through a difficult time. To slow down, step away from the news and the world, and turn in towards your new baby and family. It is okay to take this opportunity to be home without the pressures of the outside and to get to spend sweet slow time together. Being postpartum during coronavirus has silver linings too!

Ability to Rest as a New Mom

In many cultures across the world, the postpartum season is honored with slowness. New moms are expected to rest, recover, and be served. Traditions call for taking care of mom and baby and not rushing back to anything. In the US, we often feel instant pressure to bounce back in all ways- and to prove we are almost “superhuman” in the midst of being a new mom. Perhaps a gift in all of this is the chance to slow down and honor the season.

RELATED: Where do we learn about postpartum?

having a baby during the pandemic

With less social spaces to feel pressure and judgment, you have space to figure out who you are as a mom. Less push to get “out and about” means you can honor the healing your body and mind need. With less to “achieve” you can be present.

Related: Postpartum Resources

Staying Connected While Being Postpartum During Coronavirus

Social Distancing is maintaining a physical distance, but it doesn’t have to mean being isolated and out of touch. Thankfully, technology gives us ways to see our friends and family, even from afar. Apps such as Zoom, Marco Polo, House Party, and Facetime make it easy to talk with friends and family in real-time. You can schedule group video calls to keep in touch, share how you and baby are doing, and let baby see the people who mean the most to your family. This is also a great time to utilize emails and letters- which means your words will be saved longer than they would be in a conversation. Because our children will be learning about COVID-19 in the future, it’s a fun time to start an email address for your child and write letters he can access as he grows.

Ways to Let Others Help You

Just because people can’t hold your baby or hug your neck doesn’t mean they can’t help and support you at this time. Your needs are still valid and there are creative and safe ways for you and your family to be cared for in this time. As new moms, women can often feel bad about expecting and accepting help, but remember, this is a season that you were meant to be nurtured and cared for by your community. There are unique ways others can help you when you are postpartum during coronavirus.

Meals

Meal trains are a family’s best friend. Often meal train deliveries come with a visit from the person delivering, but in this season you can designate a spot by your door for drop off with a little sign that says “Thank you! See you when we can!” and be supported by the outpour of love in the form of food from others. You may want to leave out a cooler to ensure meals stay safe as we approach late spring and summer. If you are concerned about the transfer of bacteria, you can leave antibacterial wipes by your door to immediately clean off anything that is delivered.

According to the FDA’s most recent statements, COVID-19 is not believed to be able to transfer via fresh food. A concern would be if the food is left out for a long period of time and then coughed/sneezed on. It is okay for you to put this information on your meal train website and ask that only those who can abide by the FDA guidelines sign up for meal delivery. The FDA also notes there is a low likelihood that it can transfer via surfaces, however, if you want to still wipe surfaces or transfer food immediately to storage containers of your own, that is a precaution you can take. You can find the latest information from the FDA on COVID-19 here.

Help with your yard/outside work

During this time of social distancing, you may not be comfortable with someone coming in to help you clean your home. As the season is changing, though, you may have yard work that others can safely help you with. From preparing your garden, mowing your lawn, painting a shed or outside fixture, there are a number of tasks that come up with the season change, and allowing others to help you with these things takes a load off of your plate as you bond with baby.

Group Text

Whether it’s your friends from high school or college, a group from your workplace, moms and aunts in your life, or a group you found in a FB group full of women delivering around the same time as you, a group text can be a great way to keep going through the long nights of early postpartum. It is always comforting when someone else is up feeding the baby at 2am when you are. It can be helpful to have a group you trust to send pictures of questionable poopy diapers, cracked nipples, and no-sleep selfies.

Virtual Support for New Moms Who are Postpartum During Coronavirus

Virtual support means you can connect with others who are committed to postpartum women and families through the ease of the computer. Online support provides ways for you to learn with others and have guidance through your transitions.

Postpartum Together

Postpartum Together offers a variety of small groups for the transitions of motherhood. We help you prepare for life after baby and go through the changes. You can find coaching groups for things like The New Mom Crew, Back to Work After Maternity Leave, Healthy Body Image After Baby, Transitioning to Stay at Home Mom, Sex & Intimacy After Baby, and more!

RELATED: Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Body Restore

Fourth Trimester Restore is NOT about weight loss. It is about reconnecting with your core, pelvic floor, and whole body as you regain strength in a mindful and healthy way. Fourth Trimester Restore is an online group with opportunities for 1-on-1 coaching and access to a group page to talk about caring for your body after baby. Tell her CHELSEA sent you.

Lactation E-Consults

During this time, most lactation consultants are offering e-consults to help you with latch, pump fitting, nursing techniques, milk storage, and more. You can ask a local lactation consultant if e-consults are available or check out a resource such as Lactation Link to find an LC to work with.

RELATED: Amazon Pumping Must-Have List

Virtual Doula

Doulas have also become a service turned mostly virtual during this time. That’s Major is a collective of virtual doulas and with a quick quiz, you can be matched to the doula that most meets your preferences and needs. You can also contact a doula you know and trust and ask about their virtual service offerings.

The Birth Lounge

In the birth lounge you can get prepared for an empowered and evidence-based birth. Hehe, the birth lounge founder, is daily checking on COVID-19 updates to best prepare moms for birth. Inside the birth lounge, you can connect with other moms going through the same thing and hear from experts monthly. You can use POSTPARTUMTOGETHER at checkout.

You can do this. You can have a beautiful postpartum during Coronavirus.

Momma- I know postpartum during social distancing and COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve experienced. It comes with unique challenges and yet I hope you find it comes with unique support opportunities and ways to celebrate the ease into a new way of life. My hope for you is that this time is filled with slowness and honor you might not have otherwise had and an ability to connect meaningfully with yourself, your family, and others who show up in this season.

If you’re a postpartum mom looking for a place to connect, be supported, and empowered, click here to see when the next Postpartum Together group starts.

motherhood, Postpartum

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? How to Figure Out What You Are Experiencing

How Long do The Baby Blues Last?

How do I know if my wife has depression or the baby blues

So you’ve recently had a baby and the emotions are setting in. Naturally, you’re feeling a lot of things and you might be wondering: “Am I experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression?”Your life has changed drastically in a short amount of time and your body is also reacting. During pregnancy, your progesterone levels increase up to 200x their baseline levels and when you deliver your placenta, that progesterone is leaving the body causing a steep drop. Sounds a little bit like a roller coaster, right? So if you’re emotionally feeling like a roller coaster, this is probably why and you are not the only one.

How can you tell if what you are experiencing is a “natural” part of the transition of baby from inside to outside of your body and the drastic change in hormones that brings? How can you tell if you need to seek outside help or if this will subside on its own?

What Contributes to Postpartum Mental Wellness?

As mentioned above, there are natural swings in hormone levels when you are pregnant, during birth and after. Your body is changing along with the needs of a growing baby and the transition from inside the body to outside the body. Additionally, starting the process of breast milk production causes hormone fluctuation whether you decide to breastfeed or not. Late in pregnancy, many women struggle to sleep and when the baby arrives, many women experience ongoing sleep deprivation. This lack of sleep can make it harder for hormone levels and emotional responses to return to a baseline level as the brain and body do not experience restorative rest. This means it can take weeks and even months to stabilize.

RELATED: How long is postpartum?

What is Baby Blues?

-Typically within first 1-2 weeks after birth

-Sadness

-Crying

-Irritability

-Trouble Sleeping

-Can see feelings objectively

With baby blues, women can identify that this is temporary and marked by things like lack of sleep, big transitions and hormone shifts. The mom with baby blues recognizes that this is difficult, but knows it will pass and can see things objectively. She feels these things but does not feel that they are all-consuming.

Related: What are the Baby Blues (Zulily contribution)

chart shows difference between postpartum depression and baby blues

What is Postpartum Depression?

-Hopelessness

-Helplessness

-Ongoing crying

-Brain fog

-Rage

-Lack of interest in people or things

-Withdraw

-Difficulty bonding

-Intrusive thoughts (thoughts of harm to self or baby)

The mom who is experiencing postpartum depression will see symptoms beyond the first two weeks. Symptoms may onset after delivery to up to 1 year postpartum. This mom might feel that there is no end to the negative emotions. She feels withdrawn and not interested in people or things she was previously interested in. She may not be able to “find” or recognize herself in the midst of all of the emotions. This mom may have rage she cannot control. In some cases, this mom believes the baby would be better off without her and she struggles with intrusive thoughts of harm.

RELATED: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Stories

PPD Risk Factors

While there are no guarantees about who will and who will not experience PPD, there are some risk factors that increase your likelihood.

Women who:

-Have a history of mental health disorders

-With a mother/father/grandparent/sibling with a history of a mental health disorder

-Pregnancy, birth, or postpartum medical complications-Mothers with baby in the NICU

-Mothers of baby with colic or medical complexity

-Women with little family/friend/community support

If you are pregnant and know that you are at risk for PPD, Burd Therapy’s Preventing PPD course may be the tool you need.

Everyone Deserves Postpartum Support

Whether you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression, or just going through the transition into motherhood, you deserve support and there is no shame in not having it “all together.” No one really has it all together, even if it appears that way on the outside. If you believe you may be struggling with PPD, contact your provider- either your OB or your Primary Care Provider, and tell her how you’re feeling. If possible, find a therapist  who can provide you with a safe space to talk about your transition and feelings. Share your experience with those who are close to you and care about you- many people want to be helpful and supportive and there is no reward for doing it all yourself.

Whether it is medication, therapy, a holistic approach to navigating this new stage, know that help is available and help doesn’t make you weak. As a medication-taking, therapy- going, yoga loving mom who loses her mind without these tools and resources… you’re in good company and no one wins a trophy for not needing help.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for any mom