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Bringing a baby into the world during a global pandemic was never going to be straight forward. Having sailed through your pregnancy fairly stress-free, suddenly in a matter of weeks, your whole world has been turned upside down. Your baby has arrived safely and you want to shout about their arrival from the rooftops, except suddenly, all the plans you had expected to share with your newborn have had to be put on hold.
Not only have you faced giving birth and receiving postnatal care at a time when medical resources are stretched to the max, but now many of your relatives who are high risk are isolating.
If your baby is born in the middle of a lockdown period, it is important to ensure that you stay as connected as possible. Parenthood can be lonely enough at the best of times, particularly with a lack of family around to support you, and making the transition from the busy and sociable surroundings of a workplace to stay at home mom feeling stuck at home can be incredibly overwhelming.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid loneliness and isolation as a stay at home Mom during the Covid-19 pandemic:
Seek out “virtual” Mom friends
For me personally, one of the most important things you can do when you have a new baby is to seek out Mom friends and find your Mom tribe. Whilst physical meetings may be off the cards for the short-term, many parenting networks and classes are moving online during this period, from Mother and baby classes, breastfeeding support groups to rhythm and music classes targeted at newborns. Seek out potential networks on social media and beyond and you will be amazed at what you can find.
Whilst meeting people online in this way is a little unorthodox, finding a group of Moms with babies of similar ages can form a huge support network and provide the perfect sounding board for advice and guidance from those who are experiencing some of the same challenges. It’s always reassuring to know that you aren’t alone, you’re not the only one surviving on 5 hours sleep a night, and sharing ideas, tips and insights can be really useful.
By linking up with some new Moms you can even create group chats using tools like WhatsApp, which can be ideal for some distractions during night feeds! At times you can feel like you’re the only person awake in the world at 3am whilst the rest of the house is sleeping, so it’s nice to know someone is right there with you, even if geographically apart!
Join online communities
These days there are lots of online communities for new parents too, and being able to jump on the forums and ask some questions in the middle of the night (and most likely get a fairly quick response from others who are also awake!) can be really reassuring. The Pregistry Forums are a great place to start. For moms with COVID-19 (confirmed or not), the International Registry of Coronavirus in Pregnancy (IRCEP) has a great chat room.
Embrace the Technology
We are lucky that we are living in a technical age, and despite being in a position where we can’t have all the visitors we might have expected, including your parents or in-laws who would otherwise be popping over on the hour for a cuddle, we can make the best of a bad situation by embracing the connectivity at our fingertips.
With face time, skype and online video conferencing facilities like Zoom and HouseParty, you can video dial with multiple people at the same time, meaning that those who are remote or unable to visit in person can still feel included and enjoy seeing your baby on screen.
This can be a hugely beneficial connection for both you and your relatives and is a sure-fire way to put a smile on everyone’s faces.
Don’t underestimate the power of a text
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s just a quick chat on the phone, a question about cluster feeding, or simply to moan about how tired you are.
Send a text and reach out to a friend. If anything, your friends (particularly those who don’t have children at home) will actually have more time on their hands to chat than usual. Don’t feel like you’re alone – get in touch!
Make plans for later
There’s no doubt that being a new Mom during this period is going to be challenging, but just because we can’t celebrate your new arrival right now, doesn’t mean that we can’t make plans for later. Think about what you would like to do with friends and family when you are able, and spend some time discussing ideas over phone, text or face time to give you something to look forward to at a later date.
Not only will this boost your morale and mental health, but could also give some of your relatives a little positivity when they could be struggling with isolating too.