Supporting new moms in times of COVID-19
Life has slowed down in many aspects due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, causing reduced hospital visits for routine health check-ups and non-emergency procedures. However, life does not stop, and moms of newborn babies still need support, especially if it is their first time. If anything, the stress and fear around the pandemic have brought to attention the increased need for emotional support to new moms. The discharge from the hospital after delivery takes place earlier now to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and safeguard the newborn. However, the early discharge makes it challenging for everyone to provide adequate postnatal care to the mother and baby.1
Common concerns: calm the crying baby
All babies cry! Some cry louder, while some cry longer. Under normal circumstances, you can seek external help and social support from the local community, but given the current situation, as a new mom, you might be confused or stressed about how to manage your baby’s crying spells. Amid the pandemic, the baby’s grandparents cannot come home to look after the newborn, neighbours cannot stop by to check if you are okay and you cannot confidently hire childcare support. You must already be working hard to fill the void created by the absence of these precious supporters. Here are some tips to support you in overcoming the hurdles during the new normal.2
• Apply all soothing tricks: The most primary need of all crying babies is to feel soothed. Your baby may feel calmer if you hold, feed, swaddle, sing and gently rock him/her. You can try these activities over and over until your baby calms down completely. Ensure that your baby is in a safe sleep environment. You will be surprised to see that your baby may sometimes cry and tire himself/herself to sleep.2
• Connect with people: Becoming a new mother is always challenging. It is also a phase of increased vulnerability for those with mental health issues. Besides, the pandemic is adding to it by affecting the ability to socialise in conventional ways like just walking over to your helpful neighbouring aunty. It is proven now that the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting new moms psychologically.2,3 Although you may feel depressed due to restrictions during the pandemic, you can connect with other new moms via social media. Video calls are another great way to stay in touch with your closed ones. Talk to people who are good listeners or can offer solutions that may benefit you in managing your newborn.2 Do not hesitate to ask for help, and you will be surprised to see how forthcoming people can be!
• Seek help and use your helpers: As it is unsafe for both you and your baby to hire help, you can always ask your siblings and family members to come and stay with you to support you when needed. If you have an elder sibling who has some experience in raising a child, you can ask them to be your special helper.2
• Focus on your needs too: You may certainly feel overwhelmed if you are a new mom. You can take care of your baby if you pay attention to fulfilling your needs too. Rest as much as possible and catch up on sleep while the baby is asleep. Use the time while your partner or other family member is looking after your newborn and do things that make you feel good. You can put your headphones on, have a cup of tea or coffee, call a relative or a friend, or just relax!2
If you have a new mom among your family, friends or neighbours, this is the time when you can help her the most. You can do the following to support her amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak:
• Ask her if she needs any help like buying diapers or other baby supplies.
• Check if you can supervise her older children while she is busy with her newborn or if you can take her dog out for a walk.
• Check if you can provide her with necessary food supplies and other household items that she may be needing.2
• Send her a coupon of a nearby restaurant; look for one that provides home delivery services.
• Send a house plant or flowers to congratulate the new mom and improve her mood.
• Schedule a virtual visit with the new mom or meet her in person following the social distancing norms of 6 feet distance to avoid any risk
• Purchase a gift and drop it at her home or in the mail.4
• If you are a colleague to a new mom who is back to work after her maternity leave, be kind and supportive to her.
• You can think of different ways to help and support new moms and reduce their struggles in times of COVID-19.2
If you are a mom to a new baby, you can relieve your stress by reaching out to people and seeking help. Do not feel awkward to seek help. Call your doctor to resolve any questions related to health for you or your newborn.
Do what makes you feel good and relax, everything will be fine!
1) Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Supporting new mothers in the time of COVID-19 [Internet]. Available at: http://www.ihi.org/communities/blogs/supporting-new-mothers-in-the-time-of-covid-19. Accessed on Jan 3, 2021.
2) Healthychildren.org. Tips for coping with a new baby during COVID-19 [Internet] [Updated Jun 16, 2020]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Tips-for-Coping-with-a-New-Baby-During-COVID-19.aspx. Accessed on Jan 3, 2020.
3) Liang P, Wang Y, Shi S, Liu Y, Xiong R. Prevalence and factors associated with postpartum depression during the COVID-19 pandemic among women in Guangzhou, China: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 25;20(1):557.
4) Gundersen Health System. 6 tips to support new parents during COVID-19 [Internet]. Available at: https://www.gundersenhealth.org/health-wellness/be-well/6-tips-to-support-new-parents-during-covid-19/. Accessed on Jan 5, 2021.