Statistically, 1 in 5-7 women get Perinatal Mood Disorder (postpartum depression). PMD causes many negative outcomes including preterm labor, low birth weight, insecure attachment…studies have shown impacts can last into adolescents. There is a positive correlation with maternal anxiety and depression and preeclampsia. Yet we are much more likely to only screen for preeclampsia prenatal. It is time to screen moms for PMD during their pregnancy!
The postpartum period is a difficult time. I usually discuss with the new moms I encounter how romanticized the postpartum period is in America. The reality is much more exhausting and encompasses more sadness and isolation for many moms than most would expect. The result of the difference in expectation versus reality, is that many moms feel guilt. New mothers also may sense that they cannot come forward with their true feelings due to fear of being judged, discriminated, etc.
Now, this reality is even more apparent. The COVID-19 Pandemic has created even higher emotions and feelings of isolation. A new mother who is delivering right now will lack the same supports that would usually be available to her. For example, support groups and lactation groups are canceled in many places currently to maintain social distancing. It is more difficult and scarier to get out of the house. This should be your season of receiving but instead everyone is on lockdown and afraid to receive anything from anyone. In general, the support system that was there looks different and can cause new mothers stress.
So, what supports are still currently in place? Where can new mothers turn?
Telehealth is the first option. This is likely not going to go away even after the pandemic. Many online support groups, therapists and doctors’ offices are offering telehealth right now. This may be an even more attractive options to new moms who dread the thought of getting themselves and a newborn anywhere on time.
There are also online support groups available. While this is not a new type of support, it definitely has increased during this time. Perinatal Support International offers online support groups as well as the Postpartum Stress Center.
There are social media sites, like on Facebook. Available online support at 3:00 AM when you are up and feeding your babe is exactly what some mothers need. I know the overnight period can be the hardest for new moms. I personally found this helpful. I would scroll through posts in the middle of the night and read posts of other mothers experiencing similar things and found comfort knowing I was not alone.
There are ways to communicate with family and friends online via skype, zoom, facetime and Facebook messenger. Do not be afraid to utilize the services that 2020 provides us. Ask for a meal to be delivered via Doordash, ask them to order something on Amazon and ship it to your house.
Finally, know that you are not alone. Traditionally, 1 in 5 to 7 women experience postpartum depression (PSI International). Also, 1 in 10 spouses experience it as well. I suspect that this number is even higher during the pandemic (PSI International). Especially with the visitor restrictions at the hospital of only one visitor, only one parent in NICU, and a lack of support, it is really the perfect storm.
Please reach out and comment below with questions, concerns, or additional resources.
It takes a village. Stay Healthy,
Traci Schank, LCSW
See https://www.postpartum.net for more information and information on the above statistics.
Likely, you became a healthcare provider to help others. We all have many memories of being part of someone’s last moments with their parent or child. Typically, self-care is stressed. If you’re lucky, there are office parties, lunches provide, appreciation weeks where cards are sent out. But now, during the COVID 19 Pandemic, more than ever we should all be taking steps to be mindful of our self-care daily. Every day we need to write it down and make it a priority. Not only to curve burnout but also to keep ourselves and our minds well.
In the midst of running to work, working twelve-hour shifts, showering multiple times and trying to maintain sleeping, eating, etc. all in a single day, it can be hard to prioritize yourself. However, often we forget, especially those who have dedicated our lives to others, to care for ourselves as well. If we are not caring for ourselves, we cannot be good social workers, nurses, hospitalists, and service providers. Take some time, some space, and some mental room and breathe. Be still. Go for a walk outside if you are able or spend some time mindfully playing with your children.
Most importantly, do not feel guilty about practicing self-care. It is okay to not feel good right now. It is okay to feel like you are failing at home and at work. It is good to have questions about the outcome, questions about humanity, questions about next week or even tomorrow.
Together, we will…but this weekend, take some time. Following are a list of things I personally enjoy doing that are also social distancing and quarantined acceptable. Planting and propagating. Painting. Reading research articles. Meditation. Puzzles. Writing myself letters to express my feelings and the world around me.
What are some things you enjoy doing that also fall in our current guidelines of social distancing and staying HOME?
Traci Schank, MSW, LCSW