I work with lots of new moms, many of whom are struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. However I was never trained on how to treat these moms during a pandemic. And these moms never learned in their prenatal classes how to bring baby home during a pandemic. Excited grandparents can't visit, friends can't stop by, older children can't go to daycare. The vision of maternity leave is totally shattered. Add on a newborn with health issues, or a partner with a demanding job, or breastfeeding struggles, or a tantrum-prone toddler and many of these women are pretty much on their own. Recovering with very little sleep, feeling more isolated than ever, all while having to care for a tiny screaming human.
For any new parent, you worry about the health of your baby. But for pandemic new parents this fear is very real. Moms are scared that the decision to let one support person see their baby could lead to catastrophic results. Moms are so torn and guilt ridden between trying to meet the needs of their infants but also themselves. They are shamed if they send an older sibling to daycare because they need a mental break. They are shamed by family members who say she's being overprotective. People judge her for going for a walk around the block either with or without her baby. She's judged for not loving every moment of being home. She's judged for bringing her baby to the pediatrician's office for a well visit. Who knew that the 2020 Pandemic would start a whole new layer of mommy wars?
Please stop the shaming people! Moms are doing the best they can for themselves and their families during this most challenging time. Her mental health is important and if that means sending a sibling to daycare or letting grandma come help, believe me, she isn't taking the risks lightly. Don't be so quick to judge her. Maybe instead, offer to help - send some meals, facetime her to check in, send her some flowers so she doesn't feel so alone.
What I tell my clients and want to tell new moms across the world:
Yes, this SUCKS.
No, it's not fair and you have been robbed of the experience you envisioned and deserve.
It's okay to admit this is really hard. Because it is. And it's okay to seek help.
You are RESILIENT. Even if you snapped at your toddler or husband. Even if you didn't manage to shower today. Even if you are feeling like you are failing. Because you aren't. In fact, when this is all through, you are going to have street cred that you survived caring for your newborn during a global pandemic. You are a rock star and a great mom. Promise.