Social Isolation and COVID-19 Causing More Anxiety for New Moms
By Lanna McClain, M.D.
Having a new baby is usually a wonderful time during those first few days full of quite a bit of emotions – usually a mixture of elation shared with celebrations with friends and family, along with some tears mainly from fatigue and hormonal fluxes.
But during the past few weeks with all the ‘shelter-in-place’ recommendations, many new moms are reporting they feel a rise in anxiety level due to indefinite periods of social isolation, unavailability of family support and more importantly fear of their children acquiring COVID-19.
The entire time of welcoming a new baby has been transformed from a warm, celebration involving family and friends overflowing with hugs and kisses, to a time where only one support person is allowed, with extensive screening and smiles are covered with masks and hugs are replaced with a 6-foot-distanced wave.
Social isolation and lack of physical and emotional support has taken a toll on mothers physically as well and mentally, creating increased anxiety and stress. Not only are new moms tackling the hardest job in the world (being a new parent), but they are doing it during the arguable most stressful time in recent history…and on NO SLEEP!!
If you are a new mom and feel overwhelmed by some of these feelings, you have every right to feel that way! And you can cry a few tears! These are unprecedented times and your hormones are crazy and you have not slept and you are scared. Reach out and call your friend, your sister, your mother or your pastor and ask for help or simply let them know how you feel. Tell your partner you need help or a nap or a drive around the block. Call your obstetrician or pediatrician and let her know you are feeling anxious. Counselors and physicians are providing telemedicine now and are able to screen for post-partum depression and anxiety if these feelings are more than you can handle at home. Here's a good resource to find therapists who may offer teletherapy during these times.
Every time we fly, we hear the flight attendant share the Oxygen Mask Rule: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” We know that without our oxygen mask, we will quickly lose consciousness. If we don’t make putting on our mask our first priority, we will likely not be able to help anyone. That is why as pediatricians, we address the health and well-being of our moms in order to ensure that our babies are being taken care of as well.
As a new mom prepares the nest for her baby, remember the “NEST-S principles of Self-Care” : Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Time for Self, and Supports! When barriers to nutrition have been placed such as a simple trip to the store, remember to ask those grandparents who want to help to place an order for a grocery or meal delivery. A walk around the house, patio or up and down the driveway can boost the mood, and the Vitamin D! Sleep is a rare commodity, so when that baby sleeps, remember to grab a nap! Take this time of isolation to read a positive quote about what a great mom you are! And investigate some innovative supports for new moms.
New resources have been developed knowing that our moms face special challenges during these times. These include the Postpartum Support International at www.postpartum.net/ , supports groups and information at www.postpartumdepression.org , virtual support groups like www.thebloomfoundation.org/mom-support-group/ and the Mom Center at https://graemeseabrook.kartra.com/page/the-mom-center .
The main point to remember is that even during this period of isolation you are not alone. Reach out and let someone know you need a boost. Know that this will end soon, and you can celebrate your baby with those you love!
Get to know Lanna McClain, M.D.
I've been a pediatrician since 1996 and helped open the Cook Children's Physician Network Clinic in Burleson in 2010. I grew up in Odessa, Texas and obtained both my undergraduate and Medical Degree from Texas A&M University (WHOOP!). The best part of practicing pediatrics is seeing children grow from infancy to adulthood, and impacting that life positively! I have 2 college-age children, so I’m still working on the parenthood stuff, too! Outside of the office, I enjoy reading, yoga, playing the piano ( guitar, banjo and ukulele - too!) , and boating, fishing and paddle-boarding with my husband! New and existing Cook Children's Burleson pediatrician office patients can make an appointment by calling 817-447-445 or by clicking here.