PSA: Check on Your Postpartum Friends

By this, I do not by any means intend for you to physically go check on them, for the love of all that is holy, stay at home.

But, as a therapist and a postpartum mom, I imagine the numbers of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum loneliness are going to go up during this time.

Think about this: your new mom friends are giving birth and bringing babies home in a scary world.
They are no longer aloud to have their whole support system with them as they give birth and adjust to life with a new family member – at some hospitals, not even partners are aloud in the delivery room or during recovery time.
They are having to heal and adjust without their support around them – since we’re all practicing social distancing, they are relying on facetime or skype to stay connected, but have no one to come help them. No one to cook or clean while they rest and connect with their babies.
Their birth plans and postpartum plans are mostly out the window at this point.
They no longer have the outlet to connect with others as they find themselves with a newborn around the clock – along with any other kids they already have.
They are worried for themselves, their babies, their aging parents, their partners that still have to go work outside the home.
They are struggling with breastfeeding without the proper lactation support – with very little access to the professionals they would often turn to to help. They may not know where to turn to make sure their baby is getting what they need.
They are unsure if they will have the supplies they need to care for themselves, as shelves are being stripped of even basic essential care items.

It is a crazy time to be giving birth. It’s a crazy time to be pregnant or to find out you’re pregnant.

During these uncertain times, we new moms are worried: will we have food for our families? What if I have to give birth alone? What if my spouse/partner is sent home without pay for the duration? How will I handle my older kids while trying to care for a new born? What if my partner is an “essential” person, and brings the virus into our home? What if we don’t have enough cleaning supplies? Will my baby be able to meet the family?

The postpartum period, especially the first few weeks, can already be isolating. Now, the rest of the world is joining us in social isolation. Because of this, new moms don’t even have an option for a cup of coffee with a friend for an hour or a shopping trip, because things are closed or shopping can be a threat to our health.

Due to this, many of your postpartum mom friends will face struggles. Loneliness, isolation, will become part of daily lives for many. I already see it in the moms groups I’m in on facebooks and other apps.

Moms who are scared, and carrying it on their own. Moms who are feeling defeated in these moments because they are now legally forced to go through them alone. Moms who are worried for their newborns and their older kids. Moms who are worried for their partners who have to still go out or worried for their finances because the partners can’t work.

So, check in with them. And if you’re wondering how, I have a few ideas:

  • Facetime/Skype/Facebook video with them. Let them see you in your space while they are in their space. Have a virtual coffee date.
  • Send a text or two to ask how they are, and really read/consider their responses. And, respond to them. Don’t let their messages go unanswered.
  • Ask if they need anything, then help them get it. You can drop it on their porch, but even knowing others are there to help them get what they need for their family while they can’t may help ease the worry.
  • Plan a movie night, where your family watches the same movie, and then use one of the above methods to watch together, or to talk about it after.
  • Send them a card or take them a note. Just to let them know they aren’t alone or forgotten.
  • Share kind words of encouragement with them every so often. Send them funny videos, well-wishes, memes, cute animal videos, etc. Give them a reason to laugh during this stressful time.
  • Pray for them. Really, honestly pray for them. Let them know you’re praying for them. Maybe give them a call to pray for them over the phone.
  • Set up IOUs for future meetings. This won’t last forever. Let them know you’ll be there when this is all over. That they aren’t alone now and won’t be alone then.
  • Maybe, do a drive by. Keeping distance, but letting them see your face from their driveway as you talk on the phone or something like that.

We all know that this is temporary. We also know this is going to be leaving a lasting impact on the entire world. This is global. And, from what I can tell, these concerns are universal for moms-to-be and new moms.

All of us are under stress, and I get that. But, you do have people in your life who are feeling it just a little bit differently. You do have people in your life who are at a higher risk for mental health concerns as a result of this pandemic and the social isolation happening. So, please, check in on your postpartum friends (and your pregnant friends).

***And, while you’re at it, send some notes and cards to your local nursing home, assisted living home, etc. They have been closed off from any visitors. They are already some of our most vulnerable citizens, our loneliest citizens, and they need some love during this crazy time. ***

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