Tips for Coping with a New Baby During COVID-19
By: Robert Sege, MD, PhD
All babies cry. Most babies cry a lot from two weeks to two months of age. Some cry more than others, and some cry longer than others. For many new parents, crying is one of the most stressful parts of coping with a newborn. Usually new parents can seek out social supports and external help. But how do we reach out for help when we are all under social distancing restrictions? What happens when grandparents can’t come over to help out, or when neighbors don’t stop by for a cup of coffee? What happens when families are hit with sudden job loss, loss of childcare, and other restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Pay attention to your own needs. The challenges of new mothers can certainly feel overwhelming. Rest as much as you can and try sleeping when the baby does. Find time for yourself when your partner or other caring adult watches the baby. Put on your headphones, give a friend or relative a call, have a cup of tea, or just relax.
- Connect with others. Social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak can be isolating. Try video chats or social media to stay in touch. If you’re a friend or relative on the receiving end of these calls, listen first before offering suggestions. Imagine you are with the young parent and they are crying on your shoulder. Offer reassurance without any words. Keeping this image in mind can help you provide the social support that all new parents need.
- Seek help. Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States. If you had a history of depression before your baby was born, you may be at higher risk for postpartum depression. Speak with your provider sooner rather than later to help foresee this potential condition. Many doctors, nurses, and mental health providers are now set up for telehealth visits and may be able to help you by video or phone.
- Reach out. If you are a friend, relative, or neighbor to a family with a newborn, this is the time to reach out. Think about ways you can help. Can you buy diapers or other baby supplies? Can you drop off food or treats for the siblings or adults? Can you safely supervise older children outdoors?
- Find a forum. New mothers may find it helpful to discuss their experiences with other new mothers. In addition to seeking help from friends, relatives, neighbors, and medical professionals, look for discussion forums and communities of moms dedicated to sharing problems, stories, and tips with each other online (see the list of resources below).
- Your pediatrician is here to help. Never hesitate to call for advice. Your pediatrician is an excellent resource for understanding all of your needs, including those related to postpartum depression.
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