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Caring for Your Mental Health as a First-Time-Mom During COVID-19

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Society tells us that motherhood is our natural calling. To feel anything other than delight as a mother is unnatural — or is it?

Many first-time-moms often feel guilty for feeling any emotion other than happiness. But sadness, anger, frustration and grief are all universal emotions for moms. After all, leaving a simpler life for the more complex role of becoming a mother is a drastic transition.

After the birth of a first child, there is little time to evolve into the new role of motherhood, and almost no time to grieve the loss of old roles and relationships. Though magical, and beautiful, this transition can also be challenging and frightening.

Becoming a first-time-mother in as turbulent a year as 2020 can amplify all the emotions related to motherhood. The stakes seem higher, the responsibilities seem more significant, and social isolation rules can keep the usual sources of support far away. For new moms in the time of COVID-19, caring for their mental health is now more important than ever.

If you’re a first-time mother, you can take action to manage your mental well-being during this unprecedented time. Here are a few tips to help you cope with your first year as a mom during the pandemic:

Be Kind to Yourself

Caring for a newborn and maintaining a safe home can be difficult. It’s okay to feel anxious, tired and depressed. Know that you are not alone, and that your feelings are valid.

Don’t compare yourself to other mothers, or to photos you see in magazines or social media. Parenting a newborn is a profoundly personal experience, unique to each mother, and your relationship with your baby is essential. Curated photos of other people shouldn’t be a bar you need to set for yourself. Give yourself room to grow, make mistakes, and find your feet as a mother. It might take some time.

Let Others Help

Sometimes new moms feel that they have to do it all on their own. Unfortunately, that’s a surefire way to exhaust yourself. If you have to let your partner do some housework — even if they do it wrong — let them help.

Social isolation due to COVID-19 might prevent you from getting the help you need from outside family members. If you find yourself struggling, consult your pediatrician or physician about allowing an extended family member to help you. Once they address any COVID-19 concerns and approve it, having more hands on deck might ease the strain.

Seek Emotional Support

The pandemic doesn’t have to keep you from seeing others. In fact, connecting with other mothers can help you feel less alone.

Technology can work to your advantage: while you’re feeding the baby or rocking it to sleep, you can use video chats with friends or support groups to talk about your concerns. Sometimes we need to hear that we’re not alone.

Talking to a counselor or therapist is also a great way to keep things in perspective. Because of COVID-19, many therapists and counselors now offer online audio or video conference appointments. Convenient and safe, these sessions can provide a non-judgmental person to talk to.

Speaking with your physician about feelings of sadness and fatigue can also help you assess whether you might need counseling or medication to maintain your mental health.

When It’s an Emergency

In some cases, mothers of newborns can experience severe postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. Know that if this occurs, you are not to blame.

Notify your physician right away, or call an emergency healthcare professional, if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • If you feel like harming yourself, your baby, or other people.
  • If you find yourself seeing or hearing things that others can’t.

Being a new mother is the most wonderful role a woman will ever have, and the most demanding. In meeting this challenge, a novice mom needs to take care of the mental health of the woman she is first.

If you’re a new mother and have questions about postpartum depression, you can contact Postpartum Support International for help at: www.postpartum.net, 1-800-944-4773, or 503-894-9453 (text).

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