The first weeks and months after giving birth are a tough time for new moms. Not only are their hormones fluctuating wildly, but they’re sleep deprived, may be feeling concerned about their nascent parenting skills, and that’s if they aren’t also experiencing a post-partum mood disorder. The good news is that these struggles are usually mitigated by support from family and friends, as well as community groups – but, unfortunately, COVID-19 has changed everything about the post-partum period.
For new moms stuck in lockdown, rates of anxiety and loneliness are much higher, impacting at least half of moms with infants between the ages of birth and four months. These mothers cite issues ranging from isolation to lack of facetime with midwives for their increased anxiety, but some are finding alternative ways to build connections without risking virus exposure.
One of the primary functions of post-partum medical appointments is to screen new mothers for depression, anxiety, or – as occurs in rare cases – psychosis. These screenings can also detect other problems at home, such as housing or food insecurity. Because of COVID-19, however, such appointments have largely been curtailed.
In their place, medical systems are developing new “fourth trimester” programs, such as Waterloo’s “Healthy Babies Healthy Children” screenings. Though they may just be cold calls delivered by nurses, the program is meant to identify families in need of more support and connect them with appropriate services.
Ensuring continuity of care and proper screenings are critical for new mothers, since early treatment is correlated with faster recovery. Though phone screenings are imperfect and generally less effective than face-to-face ones, local medical and public health systems are doing their best to support new mothers.
New mothers today are young enough to have robust social media connections. They may be on several platforms and able to keep up with friends and family through Facebook posts and pictures on Instagram. The problem with these platforms, though, is that they aren’t designed for any particular task beyond communication. What new mothers need, instead, is a purpose-built community – and they’ve found it in Peanut.
Peanut is a chat platform for new mothers that allows users to find other moms to connect with, discussing parenting challenges, asking questions, and creating community. It also includes a blogging platform. By connecting mothers at various stages of new parenthood, the platform offers mothers opportunities to find support, give and receive advice, and develop friendships, no matter where they’re located.
Keep It Simple
Though COVID-19 may have left new mothers isolated, some are noticing subtle advantages to this strange new way of living. Some say that isolation has put everything in perspective, giving them permission to keep things simple. Isolation may be hard, these mothers say, but if they can keep their child safe and healthy, then everything is okay. At a time when new parents are inundated by new technology, endless toys, and baby enrichment classes, quarantine offers permission to step back from competitive parenting culture.
Current isolation may not be optimal for new mothers, but the internet means these families are never truly alone. Instead, they’re connect – at least in the digital sphere – to countless other parents. Ongoing isolation will continue to challenge new parents, and those who are yet to give birth in the midst of the current crisis, but everyone is working hard to help them navigate this bumpy road.