Written By Raquel Nixon, Contributing Writer
Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) are common in new mothers. And having to deal with a global pandemic on top of that is not an easy task. If you are a new mother during this time, you most likely have your fair share of concerns. Here is some information that could be helpful to new mothers in 2021.
What causes PPD and/or PPA?
The cause for PPD/PPA isn’t completely understood, however it is likely due to a combination of factors including low levels of serotonin, hormonal shifts, and lack of sleep (1). A lot of changes occur with a woman’s hormones during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding which can affect her mood and well-being. That, on top of the stress of caring for a newborn, makes it easy for her to forget to take care of herself and her own health. If you or a loved one are dealing with PPD/PPA during this time, remember that it’s important to prioritize the mother’s health as well as the baby’s.
Dealing with visitors
It can be nerve wracking to expose a newborn baby to the outside world even without having to worry about a pandemic. It’s times like these where the best thing you can do is play it safe and do only what you’re comfortable with. You could require visitors to wear a mask and stay outside, or if they have been strictly isolating, wash their hands and wear a mask upon arrival. In addition to following COVID-19 safety practices, it is also suggested that visitors have a current Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine before holding or being around the baby (1).
Prioritizing your own health
New parents tend to see a drop in their mental health when taking care of a newborn because of the time and energy and lack of sleep that it comes with. It’s important to remember “asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness” (1). It may be difficult to leave your baby with someone at this time, especially if you don’t have family quarantining with you. But there are outlets and solutions to help you maintain or refortify your mental wellbeing. Talk to your doctor and ask them about treatment options such as talk therapy and group therapy (1). Taking some time off work is also a good idea if you are able to. According to Mental Health America, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers mental health, which should allow you time off. However, not all employers are required to follow FMLA, so ask your employer to be sure.
Overall, lean into your supports and community as much as you can. Ask for what you need and advocate, advocate, advocate!
Postpartum depression/anxiety during covid-19. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://mhanational.org/postpartum-depressionanxiety-during-covid-19