The Coronavirus pandemic has really interrupted parental care, disrupting the normal lives of new mums. Parenting was a bit enjoyable before, but the pandemic has complicated so many things, increased worries and anxiety especially for the new mums. Pre-covid, new mothers could access support as and when required, from midwives, families and friends. Families could gather and interact with new mums freely as they celebrate the arrival of a new member of the family. Ever since gatherings and visits became dangerous in terms of spreading coronavirus, even visiting hospitals for postnatal care has been so challenging (talking from personal experience). So, what specifically are new mums facing during this pandemic and what are the suggestions to keep safe and sane during this period?
How new mums’ lives have been interrupted during the Coronavirus period
Many parents may have planned so many things for their yet-to-be born bundles of joy before the pandemic. Most mums were intending to enjoy their maternity, attend baby groups, postnatal classes and introduce their newborns to family and friends. Unfortunately, coronavirus knocked and everything changed. The restrictions brought about by the pandemic were difficult and unbearable especially to new mums who were now faced with doing motherhood in a strange new world.
The global health crisis turned tables in everything and brought in so much stress and anxiety. Parents were now tasked with battling with how to control their fear and care for their families at the same time. They were uncertain of the virus and what it could cause to their newborns since there was a rise in infections and deaths. Parenting became complicated and confusing to say the least.
The pandemic withdrew support from all quarters
Since expectant mothers are vulnerable, social distancing and isolation began early to protect them. The isolation led to the cutting of social links making most mums unable to interact with their peers, reducing chances of learning through postnatal interactions with other new mums. Most of the antenatal education classes were no longer physical but online, pausing that healthy interaction.
Most new mums couldn’t visit their midwives or GP surgeries and instead settled for a phone call or online zooms (and for most like myself, we went without any of this services). If the visits happened, they could take a short time, depriving them of time for interaction. Lack of interaction proceeded to the labour rooms, where WHO set directions that required only one person to enter the rooms, the support person was not to get out of the room once inside. This was the case for me and my husband even though I gave birth in June, where the first round of easing was about to start here in the UK.
The trouble of no interaction extended to other extended family members who wanted to meet the newborns and other babies. Grandparents became upset by not being able to meet their grandbabies. As a result, parents received less support.
Heightened mental struggles with the pandemic
So many parents are experiencing and developing a wide range of postpartum mental health issues. Since Corona struck (or as I like to call it Miss Rona), depression and anxiety have been on the rise significantly on the new mums. Medical practitioners attest that if the mothers fail to get support after delivery, they will develop postpartum mood disorders. Psychiatrists confirm that they have seen insomnia, feelings of hopelessness, worry, compulsions, and obsessions have risen since the pandemic hit.
Research by Frontiers in Women's Global Health indicates that a whopping 72% of new mums have anxiety while 41% had high anxiety levels. In general, the research shows that new mothers have troubles since the virus came. Most of them are worried about losing their jobs, the close of business, or schools' closure.
The new parents feel that their stay with medical practitioners is short-lived, and they do not have enough time to ask whatever questions they have. The new mums and dads also feel that the rush out of hospitals denies them daily reports and affirmations that they are faring well.
Having video conferencing or calls from relatives, friends, and health consultants is not enough to replace real meetings. Neither the Facebook, Zoom and WhatsApp meetings cannot replace women groups, children centers etc. This limits mothers from physical interactions, giving secondary support. See next post for some ways to get through this difficult times even with all the current easing in the UK