Eileen Mouyard is the Communications & Outreach Coordinator for Smart Start of Transylvania County, a GetSet Transylvania partner. She is a single mother of a two year-old who currently works and parents from home. Angie Garner is the Community Relations Regional Director for Vaya Health. She is a mother of two teenagers and spends most of her free hours on the athletic fields in Henderson County.
Having a new baby is hard.
Having a new baby during an ongoing, widespread pandemic restricting social interactions and physical contact is well, really hard.
From what I have heard from friends and family members that have given birth during the COVID-19 pandemic I am saddened by the general consensus that they all feel they’re ‘missing out’ on so many things with their newborns or infants.
The feeling of not really being able to share their joy–both physically and emotionally– is another message I have received. And I get it. I remember during the first couple of months having my daughter at home it was lifesaving (really) having a family member or close friend come over to let me shower or go for a walk alone. Folks would bring us food and flowers and gifts. I could go out to a bustling park and be comforted to know that there were so many other mothers and parents that we’re thriving and all still alive. When COVID landed human-side, it changed the landscape of so many things, and it definitely changed the way new parents can seek and be given support in all the ways that they need it.
The stress of having a new baby at home is enough of an intense and emotional experience as it is, then throw isolation, social-distancing, and a general feeling of anxiety and worry into the mix and postpartum life’s intensity level goes sky-high.
Luckily, there are things and people and resources to aid us. There is always help if we are only wise enough and humble enough to ask for it. Healthychildren.org is a pediatrician-led website that covers any and everything baby and child. They, of course, now have an entire COVID-19 condition section. In the article “Tips for Coping with a New Baby During COVID-19”, Robert Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP points out tips and resources for coping with a new baby at home during such an uncertain, emotionally charged time.
“Try all the soothing tricks, pay attention to your own needs, reach out to your pediatrician, connect with others” are just a few of the points mentioned and elaborated on in efforts to help families–parents, specifically– to feel supported, comforted, and less isolated. There is also a list of resources provided to help with postpartum depression and breastfeeding, as well as alleviating stress and dealing with all the tears from both baby and parent.
This article also focuses on what other people (in the circles of parents with a new baby at home during the pandemic) can do to help without being physically or emotionally intrusive. For example, if there’s a video conference call and the baby is crying or obviously present, say “hello” and ask how they are all doing; make the parent and baby both feel seen. Offer to help in whatever capacity is wanted or needed by dropping off essentials such as baby wipes, some basic groceries, coffee, or a gift card for takeout or to put towards bills. Or invite them out to a socially-distant picnic since fresh air and a bit of sunshine can work wonders for mental health.
The “bright side” is to understand how common feelings of frustration, isolation, and exhaustion are during the first few months of an infant’s life; trust that you are most certainly not alone.