Mental Health Tips for new Parents during Covid-19
Updated: May 4, 2020
Becoming a new parent is a big life transition both physically and mentally.
It is usually an exciting time, however depending on your birth experience and individual circumstances, it can also be a time that new Mums and Dads find very difficult.
Feeling sad, anxious, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, can be some common reactions to varying challenges becoming a parent can bring.
Giving birth during a pandemic has thrown up many unique challenges that have thrown increased stressors into the mix.
From birthing, to bringing baby home, to learning how to parent a newborn, these big events have become less physically supported and more isolated due to social distancing requirements.
Not having access to personal support, your usual village, including family members and friends, and not being able to access the many community support services that would usually be available, such as Mothers Groups, has left many new parents feeling isolated, anxious and overwhelmed.
We are currently living history. Living and parenting in the time of a Pandemic can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions.
Here are some ideas to help support you and your mental health during Covid-19.
Structure your Day
Schedule in Social Time
Reduce Exposure to Covid-19 news
Reduce Your Mobile Phone Use
Focus on the Basics
Breathe + Connection
Structure Your Day:
The importance of having a regular day to day routine cannot be underestimated during a pandemic.
As much as possible with a newborn, set up a routine for your day that you follow every day.
7 am Feed baby
8 am Breakfast with partner
8.30 am Shower
9 am Walk
10 am Feed
11 am Nap time 1
1.30 am 10- 20 mins meditation, snack time
Break your activities for the day down into 1-2 hour increments. Schedule each activity around the same time each day, give or take 30 minutes.
Place a Calendar up in your home.
Having a sense of time is really important right now as the days feel like they can all roll into one. Set up a daily schedule on a blackboard or print one out that you and your partner can refer to, and have a sense of what is on for each day.
It can be a good idea to discuss tomorrow’s schedule the evening before so you are both on board and can support each other with your plans for the following day.
❖ What time you will sit and have meals together?
❖ When do you plan to take a nap, or a family walk together?
❖ When do you plan to face time/Zoom with family and friends?
❖ What are your/your partner’s work commitments for the day?
These can all be helpful conversations to have and plan ahead for. If you’re too tired to chat at night, schedule the chat in the afternoon instead.
Structuring our day, placing events into the week to look forward to, and maintaining a sense of time can all help to reduce feelings of overwhelm and anxiety by increasing our sense of control. Focusing on what we can control inside our home and our lives is important right now and can help when events outside our home feel out of our control.
Schedule in Social Time
Plan ahead for the week when you will speak to family and friends.
Maintaining social connections is important for mental health and even more crucial for good mental health in the midst of Covid-19.
If you find planning a social meeting tricky while you are settling into a routine with your baby, have a rough estimate for when you may be available, and let your loved ones know so you can plan ahead.
Reduce Exposure to Covid-19 news.
Constantly checking the news can leave us feeling time poor and anxious.
Turn the TV off/Place your phone away from you in another part of the house or on silent. Then set times throughout your day where you will check the news and set a 10 minute limit.
10 minutes is usually a good amount of time to familiarise yourself with what is happening in the world around you. Mid morning, the middle, or end of the day can be good times to get up to speed.
Avoid checking your phone on waking, or at night while feeding your baby. Waking up, and evening feeds ideally should feel as relaxing as possible. Exposure to social media feeds or upsetting news at these times can feel stressful, and these times are better spent going slow, self nurturing, and spending time connecting with your baby.
Reduce Your Mobile Phone Use
Devices can be really distracting.
Devices can be really distracting particularly if you are hearing alerts for text messages, missed calls, emails, facebook, instagram etc while you are trying to attend to and connect with your new baby.
Set aside 5-10 minutes every 2-3 hours to check your phone for any important missed messages. Social media can wait until your baby is asleep, and you have some quiet time for yourself.
Focus on The Basics.
Consumption of too many news feeds and too much social media can leave us feeling mentally overloaded and fatigued.
Whether information you are accessing is related to Covid-19 or to raising a baby, too much information, and from sources that are not certified, can lead to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
Right now it is enough to just focus on our Basic Human needs. As long as you are tuning in to and attending to your baby’s needs, nurturing yourself by allowing your body time to heal, to slow down, to get adequate sleep and rest, and adequate nutrition, this is all you need to be focusing on.
If you require advice or assistance with questions or concerns please contact credible sources such as your GP, Physio, Psychologist, Maternal Health Nurse. __________________________________________________________________________________
This is a big one and oh so important for new Mummas!
But where do you find the time while caring for a newborn?!
Just 10-20 minutes of meditation or deep breathing can work wonders for reducing anxiety, frustration, and anger, and has been proven to calm the parts of the brain down that produce anxious thoughts and the physical symptoms of anxiety in our body.
Meditation and breathwork (see our article on Breathing techniques) is also wonderful for reducing physical and mental fatigue.
Walking with baby is also a great way of reducing depression and anxiety and helps you feel connected to the outside world. Baby carriers can be fantastic to use to walk with bubs in without a cumbersome pram, and can help you feel physically connected to your baby at the same time. Sometimes it can takes bubs a couple of go’s to get use to the carrier, but once you both get the hang of it it can be an amazing experience!
Sleep is crucial.
And we don’t necessarily get enough sleep with a newborn.
It is normal for babies to wake often and not sleep through the night. They are trying to have their basic needs met by getting adequate nutrition through regular feeding, and being connected to you.
This can be exhausting as a new Mum. And it does eventually pass.
Rest when the baby is resting. Go to bed earlier if that helps. Create a sleeping schedule routine for you and your baby that feels soothing e.g. listening to relaxing music or nature sounds.
Resting even if you are not sleeping will help. Ask your partner to attend to the baby while you nap during the day. It doesn’t matter what time you sleep as long as you are creating times to do so.
If you would like to learn more, or require support with coping during pregnancy or post natal support, we are here to help! Please feel free to contact us via our link on our contact page.
*Please note we are not a crisis service. If you require urgent assistance please go to your nearest hospital emergency department, or telephone Lifeline on 13 11 14.