Lockdown Blues or Postnatal Depression?

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One thing many new moms have in common at the moment is that feeling of being completely and utterly overwhelmed. Giving birth in the middle of a pandemic, potentially having your babies alone or without your choice of birthing partner, was never what you would have planned when you announced your pregnancy. You may have dreamed about spending your maternity leave visiting baby groups, stay and play sessions, baby massage, or rhythm and music classes. You probably planned your first holiday away together as a family, imagining making little footprints on the beach and filming your child’s first reaction to the sand. Having a baby during a global pandemic means that no one is having the maternity experience they envisaged and let’s be honest here – it’s hard.

It’s OK to feel disappointed. It’s OK to feel cross and upset that those experiences won’t be quite the same, but how can you tell if your disappointment is normal lockdown blues or something more troublesome? How do you tell the difference between being fed up during lockdown and postnatal depression?

Some of the triggers of postnatal depression include having a lot of stress in your life and a lack of support from family and friends; something which is pretty much a given during the COVID-19 lockdown. The enforced time at home and removal of a large proportion of your support network means that many new Moms are feeling lonelier than ever. With our normal routines out the window, a lack of childcare support, and concerns about health and well-being, our resilience may too be far lower than normal as a result.

Experiencing some low mood or anxiety at this time is perfectly normal – many of us, even those who have never experienced mental health concerns, are feeling it. However, should you find that frightening thoughts are beginning to take over and prevent your enjoyment of day to day activities, or that you are withdrawing from people and have a lack of interest in the wider world, you may want to seek advice and support. Although physical meetings may not be possible at this time, many therapists are still offering virtual / online sessions for those who need them.

If you are concerned that your lockdown blues may be becoming something worse, please seek help, explain your symptoms, and get some advice on how to tackle them. Your self-care is just as important as your baby’s – one day at a time.

What can you do to help?

  • Try and take a different perspective. As easy as it may be to feel like you are stuck at home, you are safe at home. What a wonderful time to bond with your baby, without having to worry about making cups of tea for family members who have unexpectedly popped by to smell the baby’s head JUST as you’ve finally settled them for their nap.
  • Spend time outside where you can, go for a short walk, or make the most of time in your yard if you have one. The fresh air and vitamin D will do you good.
  • Practice gratitude – At the end of each day note down one thing you are thankful for, one thing that’s gone well, and one thing that made you smile or that you achieved. It may be the smallest thing, but taking a moment to focus on the present can help prevent your mind from wondering to more anxious thoughts.
  • Stay as socially active as you can – even if online. Aim to stay connected with friends and family and join online Mom / Parent groups where you can. Having a network of like-minded individuals, even remote ones, can be a huge help.
  • Choose your online sources carefully. Avoid too much social media and try not to compare yourself to others. There will always be one new mom showing all the picture perfect parts of their life they want you to see. It rarely represents reality but can be quite effective at making you feel inadequate. Stick to reliable news sources and consider any pages that may be heightening your anxiety.
  • Ask your partner for help – Whilst they may be working from home, can you split night time feeds with your partner, or can they look after the baby for an hour during their lunch break so you can take a well needed nap? Talk to each other and communicate how you are feeling. Now more than ever you’re going to need their support.
  • Enjoy those uninterrupted cuddles. Being physically close with your baby during feeds or before bed can release oxytocin, the feel good hormone which can really enhance your mood. What better way to look after your mental health than snuggles on the sofa. Make the most of not having to pass her around!

If you are concerned that your lockdown blues may be becoming something worse, please seek help, explain your symptoms, and get some advice on how to tackle them. Your self-care is just as important as your baby’s – one day at a time.

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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