publication date: Jun 30, 2020
author/source: Tilda Timmers
You had it all pictured perfectly in your head when you were pregnant. You could see yourself cuddling your newborn in the rocking chair, feeling blissfully happy. You could imagine yourself surrounded by people who love and support you. But then the whole world turned upside down. You give birth during a pandemic.
COVID-19 is holding the world on lockdown. Becoming a mum is overwhelming enough. But during the Coronavirus crisis, becoming a parent is extremely difficult.
I’m a therapist who specialises in postpartum depression (PPD). I see clients who feel isolated and afraid, who are battling postpartum depression all on their own. PPD is hard enough as it is, let alone when you have to miss your loved ones or having family close by your side. But there are ways you can cope with PPD during a pandemic:
- When you can’t ask your mum, your best friend or your sister to come over and babysit, make a schedule with your partner and talk to each other about who does what. When does your partner have to work? When can he or she help out with the baby? When you make a schedule, you’ll know when you have some “me time” and both of you can recharge.
- Nap when the baby is napping. Try to let the laundry lay where it is. When your baby finally is asleep, read a book, paint your toenails or watch some Netflix. You deserve a recharge.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness saved me when I was going through PPD. Mindfulness teaches you to be present, in the here and now. You can be happy just as you are in the moment, instead of escaping your thoughts or fighting them.
- Accept negative thoughts and emotions. You don’t have to label or fight them. The feeling is already there, so let it be. Know that negative thoughts are often of passing nature. Find a metaphor that speaks to you (like a balloon, a basket or a cloud). Put the negative thoughts and emotions in that metaphor and say: “I accept this thought.” Let it drift away.
- Write down positive affirmations on post-its and place them throughout your home as a reminder to be nice to yourself. Try: “I love myself unconditionally.” Or: “I accept myself.” Or: ”I’m a good mother to my child(ren).” Repeat these affirmations as often as you like. Eventually, your heart will catch up to your head and you will start to feel better.
There is help if you’re not feeling well after giving birth. As an experienced expert, I see a lot of women in my practice through Zoom worldwide. If you are struggling, there is someone you can talk to. I know how you’re feeling. I was that mum six years ago.
Lower the bar. Becoming a mum is beautiful, complicated, and intense. Especially throughout a pandemic. You don’t need to be a perfect mum. There is a Dutch saying: “Real mothers aren’t perfect and perfect mothers aren’t real.”
Tilda Timmers is the author of This is Postpartum: Free yourself from the perfect mother conspiracy published by The Dreamwork Collective and available from Amazon.