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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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 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!
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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.
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.
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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.
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.