How to Cope During Lockdown With a Newbornby Lesley Gilchrist
Having a newborn is a magical time, but unfortunately, the stress associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and influx of new lockdown rules has left many parents feeling anxious about spending their first few weeks and months of parenthood in isolation. You may even feel cheated out of how you had imagined things to be.
These emotions are valid, but there are ways to change the way you face these challenges, which can help to shift your experience as a new parent and empower you during these unparalleled times.
Focus on the positives
While you may be disappointed that family members have to wait several weeks or even months before visiting, remember that alone time with your baby is invaluable. It helps you to get to know one another and establish feeding, while gradually developing a rhythm which works for you and your newborn. In the meantime, embrace technology and encourage family and friends to make frequent video calls to check in and engage with your new family.
If your partner is working from home or has been furloughed as a result of the lockdown restrictions, try to make the most of this extra company and support in the first few weeks after giving birth. This will not only be a great source of comfort, but it can also help you both to feel more confident as parents, strengthen your relationship, and even deepen your bond with your baby.
Establish a routine
When isolating with a newborn, it is important to try and establish some sort of rhythm or daily routine, as this will not only enhance your wellbeing, it will also help to regulate your sleep, metabolism, and appetite.
I’d recommend shaping your days by keeping meal and bedtimes as regular as possible and trying to instil a sense of purpose by showering and getting dressed every morning. As spring approaches, it will also be beneficial to get outside and partake in a daily walk. This will help to break up your day and provide you with some much-needed fresh air.
With that said, flexibility and adaptability are vital skills as a new parent, so don’t worry if there are times when you have to let go of rigid guidelines and flow with the needs of your baby.
Now more than ever, taking time for your own needs is vital. Even without the stress of a global pandemic, the first few weeks with a new baby can be challenging; lack of sleep; loss of routine, and physical pain can all add to the stress of adjusting to parenthood.
Moreover, whatever type of birth you have, the recovery process may be tough - both emotionally and physically – and so taking time to look after yourself is vital. Try to make space in the day - at least 30 minutes – for your own self-care. Use this time to go for a walk or to catch up with friends or family on the phone or via facetime.
I also recommend finding time to take a 10-minute warm bath in those first few weeks after childbirth, particularly if you experienced perineal tearing during birth or had an episiotomy. A bath can help to relieve a sore, swollen perineum, soothe aching muscles, or ease a healing caesarean section wound.
To further aid the recovery process, simply add a scoop of Soak for Bits to your bath. Developed by midwives, these premium Epsom salts are blended with pure essential oils - tea tree, bergamot, and calendula which have been shown to provide relief from perineal soreness and reduce inflammation, and added arnica to help reduce bruising.”
Limit your news consumption
Watching and reading too much news about the pandemic can cause increased anxiety in the long-term. To help with this, it is best to check the news just once a day from reputable and official sources. Unfollowing pages on social media which fuel your worries can also be beneficial, as can setting boundaries with people who regularly share these types of stories with you.
Even during normal circumstances, adapting to parenthood can take time. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge how you are feeling and be patient. If you are finding things tough, there are a range of helplines available for a chat and advice, such as the PANDAS Foundation, which offers support for expecting or new parents who are struggling with their mental health.
While the pandemic and subsequent lockdown rules have caused significant changes for new parents, remember that this is temporary and that by following official advice, you are helping to keep yourself and your baby safe. Reinforcing this will hopefully help you to find reason within the challenging circumstances.