Navigating the postpartum stage is difficult for any mother, whether it’s your first baby or your third. The sleepless nights, the change in routines and roles, the physical and hormonal changes and simply the stress of caring for an infant tends to be overwhelming for all mothers at some point during this period. Many women have family and friends that they rely on to help support the transition into motherhood and beyond. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for parents to be able to rely on individuals outside their home for the support that they may so desperately need. As a result of this, many women may experience increasing feelings of isolation and anxiety with the thought of having minimal to no external help from outside the home.
1 in 4 women in Canada will experience postpartum depression and recent studies are showing an increase in anxiety and depression among mothers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this statistic may seem daunting for women currently pregnant or who have just given birth, it does not necessarily mean postpartum mood disorders are inevitable for a large portion of women. There are protective practices that all women can utilize to minimize the onset of or greater cope with these negative emotions during postpartum.
Occupational therapists (OTs) are well positioned to work together with women through the postpartum period by helping to navigate and support the early stages of motherhood, especially during a pandemic. OTs can support women who identify with any postpartum mood changes, either temporary or lasting, by helping them engage in meaningful activities to promote their mental and physical well-being. Below are some tips that can be helpful to keep healthy during periods of isolation.
Although most of us at this point are exhausted of using online communication platforms like Zoom (including myself!) it is vital for our mental health to maintain some form of social connection during these isolating times. Modern technology has allowed us to stay connected through a variety of outlets. This may look like setting up coffee chats over Facetime, playing board games over Zoom or participating virtually in a shared hobby with a group of friends. Regardless of the way you make it happen, socialization is an important part of keeping healthy. Checking in with an acquaintance, family or loved one outside of your immediate household helps to add variety to our normal day-to-day connections. It can provide an escape to a very routine, standard day and give everyone something to look forward to. Of course, these days, it is important to ensure that you are following your local government COVID regulations if connecting beyond an online visit.