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If you are a new mom, or pregnant during this lockdown period, you might have valid fears about many things, including infection and access to healthcare.
It is difficult to describe how much things have changed in the past few weeks as we globally respond to the outbreak. The whole world is engulfed in anxiety and uncertainty. This can be particularly challenging for pregnant women and mothers of very young children, who are already navigating a challenging phase of their lives.
When the world presents new threats and challenges, normal worries can grow into fear and anxiety. Uncertainties revolving around the birth process and child care can lead to a plethora of emotions in pregnant women and new mothers.
Let us look at the ways which can help mothers to cope and combat this phase of uncertainty and empower them with effective coping strategies.
With the introduction of many new concepts like ‘social distancing’, and novelty of the virus, fear is expected to be a dominant emotion. Fear related to getting infected, its effects on baby and baby’s care is expected. However, mostly fear shows up as anxiety, frustration and anger.
Because of social distancing, there can be a huge amount of time to fill up, which can further act as a fertile ground for all worries. Structuring helps in putting the day in order and reducing the unsettling feeling.
Social Media is a breeding ground of all anxieties.
During this time of fear and uncertainty, it can feel so empowering to tune into yourself and get mindful about what you want to feel with your baby at home. Shifting thoughts of fear and anxiety into an opportunity to focus on what you want to feel and invite into your sacred space. Ask yourself:
Include playtime with your baby as a mindful activity, absorb yourself in their world the way they do. Or if you get interrupted by your baby’s demands while doing a mindfulness exercise, embrace it as an extension of your practice and attend to them as mindfully as possible.
During challenging times like these, it’s important to try and let go of the “I should” and instead focus on the “I am.”
Thinking less about what we should be doing — as defined by outside expectations and external pressures — and instead focusing on all that we are doing in each moment can lead to a more healthy state of mind. You can try reframing thoughts like this:
There may be times when you may get overwhelmed and may not be able to manage your emotions. In those situations, talk to someone you trust and discuss the option of getting professional help. It is ‘ok’ to seek help for becoming a mentally healthy parent.
At the outset it’s important to talk to your doctor for any medical information regarding antenatal care and care of your baby during COVID-19 outbreak. Data is constantly changing and everyday we’re learning something new. So don’t rely on unverified sources for health information.
There may be some anxiety in accessing timely medical care in case of emergencies; speak to your doctor in advance and make a plan to determine which would be the closest hospital to reach in a hurry. Find out if they will be available by phone during an emergency or if they have any alternate numbers for duty doctors. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, identify a friend or neighbour who is willing to drive you if the need arises. Get a pass from your hospital in advance during the routine antenatal or neonatal visits to use during emergencies, otherwise carry your files with you to show to the police in case you are stopped. They have been advised to accommodate genuine emergencies and access to essential services.
Following are some reliable resources on coping with Corona during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, WHO
Coronavirus infection and pregnancy, Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, UK
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding FAQs, Centre for Disease Control, US
NIMHANS Perinatal Mental Health Helpline: 8105711277
icall helpline for psychosocial support: 022-25521111
Domestic violence helpline: 080-25492781/82/93
Co-author: Poornima Mahindru, Clinical Psychologist and Perinatal Fellow at The Green Oak Initiative. I am a clinical psychologist with a keen interest in mental health and well being across the life span beginning with maternal mental health. I believe in early intervention and wish to work towards creating an accepting community for people undergoing mental health challenges.
Our team at The Green Oak Initiative is working on improving emotional wellbeing of women during pregnancy and postpartum. If you fall in this category, please help us understanding your needs by filling out this brief anonymous and confidential survey, that will only take 2 minutes of your time and doesn’t ask for any personal details.
Image source: pixabay
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I'm a Psychiatrist & Family Psychotherapist specialising in maternal mental health and attachment disorders. Apart
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