Impact of lockdown on new mums
The last blog was on the impact of COVID lockdown on babies but this time, I want to focus on the impact on parents, and mums in particular. Babies don’t know life any other way which could be seen as a blessing, but parents do remember life before lockdown – they will have a support group of family and friends and not being able to see those people, especially during such a life-changing time, is likely to have had an impact.
But first of all, let’s start with before baby is born.
A lockdown pregnancy experience
You might remember from my last blog that someone I used to nanny for, Scarlett, has just become a mum herself and it was through speaking to her that I was prompted to put pen to paper.
Scarlett and her husband had been trying for a baby for three years so discovering that they were expecting a baby was long-awaited. They both wanted to be a part of the pregnancy journey but due to lockdown, that wasn’t to be the case.
Like so many parents-to-be, Scarlett’s husband couldn’t attend the few midwife appointments that were booked nor the NHS scans; they had to arrange some private scans which they could attend together. This was especially important around the 20-week scan when they knew they wanted to find out the baby’s gender. It was a girl which Scarlett had guessed from the outset!
Scarlett couldn’t work as a beauty therapist during pregnancy due to lockdown which wasn’t what she had anticipated but in her free time she couldn’t even attend antenatal or NCT classes.
‘As the birth drew closer, my anxiety sky-rocketed. Lockdown meant that I hadn’t gone to any antenatal classes; I was so nervous especially as both my mum and sister had had C-sections for medical reasons. When I went to my 36-week midwife appointment, a lovely midwife offered to do a Zoom antenatal class with me and spent over two hours going through everything. That helped so much as I felt I knew more and I was able to relax a bit.’
Scarlett experienced a scare when the baby stopped moving and sadly she had to go to hospital on her own to be checked out. She was determined that that wouldn’t happen when she went into labour and so stayed at home when contractions started for as long as possible. Her husband was allowed to stay with her in hospital if she was in active labour which is from 4cm dilation and when she finally arrived on the labour ward, she was 5cm dilated so her plan had worked! Her husband could stay with her from then on, albeit wearing a mask but she didn’t mind as they were going through the final part of the journey together. The labour team allowed her husband to take off his mask for photos when their baby daughter was born – they were so grateful!
I know that lots of you have gone through similar pregnancy experiences but it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Pregnancy should be a happy time but in lockdown, it may have been a bumpier ride than you were expecting; you may have experienced feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety about what was to come during birth and beyond. As I said, you’re not alone in those feelings and help is at hand.
Bringing home baby
I often think that there is a difference between expectation and reality when it comes to leaving hospital and coming home with your family’s new addition, but this would have been even greater during lockdown. Being a new mum can be lonely at the best of times (those night feeds!) but the statistics show that there has been an increase in loneliness, anxiety and post-natal depression for those women that have become new mums in the last twelve months. Even the Duchess of Cambridge has called for help.
Face to face support has been missing and I don’t mean just family and friends. Health visitors have not been able to visit as much as they have been deployed elsewhere in the NHS or have had to concentrate resources on more vulnerable families and that has impacted breast feeding counsellors too. In addition, baby groups had to stop and so a natural way of meeting new mums in the same situation was non-existent.
Aside from the negatives, the positives are that you may have had a partner working from home to help with the new baby and to allow you some rest and they hopefully will have shared some of the milestones too. Without other demands on your time such as baby groups and seeing family, you may have been able to dedicate more time to getting to know your baby rather than rushing around and also to look after yourself – something that is so frequently overlooked after birth.
What can you do to help yourself as a new mum?
Here are some ideas as to what to do to help yourself as a new mum.
- It may not be ideal or the same as meeting in person but do try to join those online baby classes. On there you will find other mums in a similar position and people with whom you can share experiences or request advice. The classes often provide a new way to engage with your baby and they might provide some much needed structure to your day. You can always make plans to meet up with another mum over Zoom or for a walk.
- Get outside! Fresh air is known for its mental health benefits and if you can walk in nature, a forest or surrounded by fields, than all the better. Make sure you’re equipped for the expedition with nappies, formula if needed, muslin cloths, water and a snack for you etc and go for a walk. Even some window shopping on your local high street will do you good.
- Stay in touch with family and friends. They have always been your support group and they still are, even though you’ve gone through a life changing event.
- Eat well, drink lots of water and try to rest when baby rests. Lack of sleep is not great for your mental health. Eating well, staying hydrated and enjoying some fresh air will help you sleep and feel better about life.
- Delegate responsibility to your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! They might not do everything quite how you would like, and they may not stick to your routine to the letter, but you might feel better for a break from mothering duties.
These tips will work but if you’re feeling very low, you must reach out for expert help. Remember that you are not alone and there are experienced health professionals who can help you. Speak to loved ones and make them aware of how you’re feeling, how you really feel; speak to your GP or health visitor. There are many organisations that they can put you in touch with who will help you get back on your feet.
This is not a sales pitch but we do offer part-time nannies, temp nannies and night nannies/maternity nurses as well as nannies on a more permanent basis. I have 25 years’ experience of helping families so please do give me a call if you’re in need of a childcare professional.