We know this isn’t fair but we can talk about ways to help you cope. Bringing a newborn into the world should be an exciting and hopeful experience. But it can also be stressful and full of anxiety, particularly right now during this time of uncertainty and chaos. It might be causing you to lose sleep, worry excessively, become anxious, distracted, and even angry. We know how hard it is to feel that way. It’s just not fair. Recently we met with a mother who was dealing with those exact same issues.
One Mom’s Experience
A mom I have previously worked with reached out after having her third baby. She was home, trying to manage two busy pre-schoolers plus a new baby. Her husband was working full time and ALL of her normal supports had been stripped away. No food drop offs from friends. No play groups to give her pre-schoolers an outlet. No visits from family to help with the baby or to entertain the older children. She had been through postpartum before, and had some challenging times and she knew how important those supports were to help her cope. And they were all stripped away and she felt lost.
As the news of all the school and community shut downs were announced she described feeling crushed and overwhelmed with a sense of sheer panic. She told herself, “I can’t handle the postpartum period alone.” She struggled through for the first few weeks. She didn’t want to have to rely on husband who was working so hard. She felt selfish asking him for help. She knew she needed a plan, but she was immediately frustrated because she couldn’t even make a plan. Because the plans she would normally make were no longer an option.
As her new reality took hold, she started to feel anxious. She was anxious about how awful the world was now. She was anxious about her kids. She was anxious about how she was going to cope with this all alone. And then, she started to be unable to sleep. She knew she was in trouble as she had been down that road before. She knew she was spiraling and she felt she couldn’t fight it.
Since we had met previously, she reached out. And in our one phone session, we were able to come up with a plan that allowed her to experience her first sense of relief. Before our call, she felt it would be impossible to feel any relief in the midst of this pandemic, however, a feeling of relief eased the tension she had been feeling in her body and her racing brain slowed down for this first time since she gave birth.
How We Work With Postpartum Mom’s
We work in the here and now with a focus on IMMEDIATE symptom reduction and relief.
- Sleep during the newborn phase is challenging enough, but if mom is not able to sleep when she has the chance to sleep, a plan is developed to address that ASAP.
- We help shift the perspective from “this will be my life forever and I can’t do it” to “the newborn stage is really hard, but thankfully it usually slowly improves as the baby gets a bit bigger.” A helpful mantra is “this too shall pass.”
- We identify the help that is available and create a plan to utilize it.
- We help mom to recognize and let go of guilt that deprives her of support she needs and deserves.
Once she received acknowledgement and validation that what she was going through was really hard, unfair and she had permission to feel angry, sad and grieve what she had hoped for, she was then able to be open to some gentle guidance of places to make change. And in making those changes she had a small element of control that allowed her to feel better.
For most women with new babies, attending therapy is the last thing they want to think about. Who has time for therapy when you are caring for a new baby? Who has money for a bunch of therapy sessions? But depending on the issues and their severity, significant change can be experienced even in a session or two.
We know there is hope and a way to feel better. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, and need support parenting your newborn during this time of uncertainty, you’re not alone, we’re here to listen and help.
by Mary Joan Brinson MSW, RSW