Being unable to receive conventional support from family and friends can further add to the feelings of frustration, fear and isolation commonly felt by mothers after the birth of their child

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented new parents with an array of challenges, which can compound the feelings associated with postnatal depression.

Advice for new parents on how to navigate the pandemic with their newborns

For new parents, the reality of social distancing and living in a nationwide lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic presents an array of new challenges and concerns over and above the birth of their child. From cancelled baby showers to prenatal appointments over WhatsApp, being pregnant and giving birth during a pandemic can further add to feelings of frustration, fear and isolation commonly associated with postnatal depression.

“As the body’s hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels, feelings of intense emotion and exhaustion are normal in the days after birth. Many women develop overwhelming feelings of sadness, detachment, irritation and fear after their baby is born,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and Head of The Birthing Team. “These feelings have been compounded by the lockdown, because parents are not able to receive physical support from family and friends during this time”

Dr Manyonga offers some advice to new parents in navigating the Covid-19 lockdown with their babies:

Call your midwife

Check-ups with healthcare providers in the days after birth, as well as the six-week mark are key to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well. New moms are encouraged to speak about their mood and any concerns they have during these visits.

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Reach out to family and friends… virtually

Many parents are finding it difficult to not see loved ones during the lockdown. Not having your family meet your child face to face can be upsetting, but it is important to remember you are not alone during this period. Connect with loved ones using digital platforms such as Skype and Zoom.

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Make use of counselling services

Talking through difficulties can be a huge help in managing feelings of depression and anxiety after the birth of your child. If you have a designated psychologist or therapist, ask if you can do telephonic consultations. Additionally, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers free counselling and 24-hour helplines.

Reframe your lockdown outlook

A change of perspective can help manage feelings of anxiety during this period. Rather than thinking about how you are stuck inside or stuck at home, consider it as you are keeping your family safe and you are able to spend extended periods of time bonding with your baby. It is a special time for both parents to be able to fully work together to support one another and their child.

The Birthing Team, supported by healthcare management company PPO Serve, provides affordable private maternity care to women who are uninsured. Their all-inclusive fee covers all necessary scans, tests, medication and consultations, including hospital costs for the delivery, based on their allocated care plan. They are currently operational at Netcare Park Lane in Johannesburg, Netcare Femina in Pretoria, Netcare Pholoso in Polokwane and JMH City Hospital in Durban. For more information visit: www.thebirthingteam.co.za