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Postpartum in a Pandemic

Mom and baby

Photo by Jen Conway / Greenville Birth Photography

The time after a baby is born is often a bit isolating; parents are home most of the time, with their new little person who spins routines on their head and blurs days and nights.  The postpartum time may mean much less interaction with other adults.  Being postpartum during a pandemic, however, is a whole other story.  In the current situation of COVID-19 racing through communities and spreading around the globe, fear, social distancing, and messaging urging people to stay home as much as possible means new parents are getting even fewer visitors and help than they usually do.  While fewer visitors can enable parents to rest and recover with their newborn, having less help usually is not a good thing.  In light of this, here are some ideas for making the most of your postpartum time during a pandemic, and if you know someone who just had a baby or is having one soon, consider these as suggestions for offering your assistance from (at least 6 feet) afar.

  1. Stock up on all the essentials you’ll need for those early days after birth.  Besides the typical items you have to keep stocked, like food and toilet paper, you’re going to need some special things as well.  You’ll want to have a variety of maxi pads, pain relief options such as acetaminophen, and potentially other items like hemorrhoid ointment, witch hazel pads, nipple balm, snacks you can eat with one hand, herbal mixes for your baths, and breast pads.  You want to avoid shopping places as much as possible during a pandemic.

  2. Ask a family member or friend to organize an online meal train for you.  This is a fantastic way for people to know you need help and how they can help you.  During a pandemic, you’ll want to ask for food that can be reheated, baked, etc. to kill the virus, or fresh food that is packaged.  Also, don’t be afraid to be specific about your food likes/dislikes and allergies.  We suggest having the schedule be for every other day instead of every day; otherwise you could get overwhelmed with leftovers.  Online meal schedules make it easy to share, and Food Tidings, Take Them a Meal and Meal Train are all great websites for this.

  3. Put a cooler on your front steps for food.  People can leave meals for you with no physical contact needed.  Use gloves when getting it from the cooler or wash hands after handling it, and if it’s meant to be served hot, be sure to cook/heat it thoroughly to kill the virus.  If it makes you feel better, you could put a little thank you note/sign nearby.

  4. Put a plastic bin with a lid on your front steps, too.  People can leave gifts and needed supplies for you.  People want to give you cute baby things, and you might realize you need more of those maxi pads than you thought, so this bin will be another great way for people to help.  If you can, leave items sitting in an unused porch or room for a few days to let the virus die off the surface of the items.  If you need to use the item right away, consider wiping it down with a sanitizing or alcohol wipe, or soap and water if possible.

  5. Use technology to connect with friends and loved ones.  It may sound obvious, but if you can use FaceTime or similar messaging technology regularly to connect with people who are important to you, that will really help stave off sadness and loneliness that comes with social isolation.

  6. Use technology to connect with your healthcare provider and mental health professional.  Telehealth is getting better and better, and while in-person visits are avoided as much as possible during an outbreak, you can still get at least some level of professional support from your doctor, midwife, or mental health professional.  These appointments are just as important during a pandemic as they are otherwise, so don’t hesitate to advocate for the care you need, even if it might not be quite the same.  (And side note, many postpartum doulas and lactation professionals offer virtual visits as well!)

  7. Join a virtual moms or dads group to connect with other new parents.  Facebook has a lot of these.  There are many that are public, that you can just find with a simple search.  Locally here in the Twin Cities, some of our favorite resources for new parents are making virtual connection possible with their groups and classes now, including Blooma and Amma Parenting.

  8. As your body recovers from birth, get outside slowly and gently.  Take slow, short walks near your home.  The gentle physical exercise will be good for you, and the fresh air and light will do wonders for your mental health.  Even if there is a shelter in place order where you live, you usually are still allowed to go outside to exercise if you are staying at least 6 feet away from other people.  Definitely check your local rules and guidance, however.

Try to remember, even in uncertain times such as these, that you are loved, and you are not alone, even if physically everyone seems so far away.  And, the new life you brought into this world is the best hope for all of us.

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