Any parent will tell you that having a baby is one of the most wonderful, yet difficult experiences you’ll ever face.
Dealing with the sleepless nights, new routines and what can feel like tidal waves of emotion, can be hard at the best of times. During lockdown, when it’s not possible to call on the support of family (other than via video chats), it’s understandable that many new parents are struggling.
Connect with other new parents online
When you first have a baby, lots of the support can come in the form of activities such as coffee-morning groups or baby yoga.
Whilst meeting up in person is not possible, that doesn’t mean that you have to sit inside with only yourself for company.
Arrange virtual coffee mornings with other new parents you met during pregnancy, so you can chat about your experiences. You could also try virtual meetups on apps like Mush.
Make the most of your daily exercise
Getting outside, breathing in some fresh air and seeing the sunshine, can do wonders for both your physical and mental health. Try to head out for a walk with your baby once a day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised by how much of a positive impact it can have on your mental wellbeing.
Get yourself into a routine
With lockdown and a new baby, a daily routine may seem pointless. However, little things like getting out of bed at a similar time, getting washed and dressed rather than staying in your PJs and sticking to mealtimes, can offer a small sense of normalcy in an otherwise strange time.
Don’t worry if you don’t stick to your routine every single day or miss out little bits here and there. A routine is meant to help you feel better, not worse.
Be kind to yourself
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried. Not only have you had to adjust to being a new parent, you’ve also had to work out a whole new lockdown routine.
Don’t beat yourself up for not getting every little thing right. Next time you start to feel frustrated or upset with yourself, ask ‘would I treat a friend like that?’.
When you can, take some time out for yourself. Self-care is an important tool to keep you afloat. Try to indulge in a hobby, take a walk, get some fresh air outside, by the window or in a garden if you have one. Or, simply take 5 or 10 minutes alone to refocus your thoughts and give your mind some breathing space throughout the day.
Mental health services are still available if you need them
Even though the NHS is working hard to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, that does not mean that its regularly available services have stopped. Mental health services are still available. They have been adapted to minimise the risk from COVID-19 and according to NHS national mental health director Claire Murdoch, many are offering phone and video consultations.
The message is clear – if you are struggling and need extra support, get in touch with your health visitor or GP. Finally, don’t forget to look after yourself and congratulate yourself for all that you are achieving and managing to do in a difficult and unprecedented time.