Tag: new parents

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on January 20, 2021, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine.  

Question: I am a new mom and COVID has been very difficult. My husband works out of the home and I feel very isolated. We are not seeing my parents right now even though they live close because they are high risk. I so appreciate Macaroni Kid as a resource but am missing in-person events and the ability to mingle with other moms. Can you share ideas for trying to stay connected and beat the heavy feeling of isolation? I am particularly worried with winter here that it will just get worse.

Answer: I can just imagine how badly you are missing in-person events and the ability to mingle with family and other moms. You are missing the fun of showing off your new baby to the world, and especially enjoying seeing your parents with their grandchild. This pandemic has really emphasized for all of us what really matters and the things we took for granted. New parenting should be a well-supported endeavor, and it’s not meant to be done alone.  

There are many things to do to take care of a new baby. I am going to add one more important job to your list and that is to take care of yourself. This is so important when you are feeling isolated. You will have to work to stay connected and fight the feelings of sadness that can often do just the reverse—cause you to withdraw.  

Not knowing your parents’ conditions, I am not sure if this can apply to your circumstance, but as long as you wear a mask and stay six feet apart, there are some activities you can do together. Outdoor activities are best. 

Here are a few ways to stay connected with loved ones, other parents, and your community: 

  • Bundle up the baby for brief porch visits. Let folks know you are coming so they can bundle up, too!
  • Try “car talk.” Park next to each other in opposite directions and talk for as long as you can handle the open window temperatures. Enjoy a hot drink while you chat.
  • Text pictures of the little one daily to your parents and in-laws. They will love it since they are probably feeling isolated and alone, too. Everyone will feel more engaged. 
  • Should baby nap long enough, bake something for your parents and make a delivery so they can get a quick peek at the little one.
  • There are many online groups. Try one on Facebook specifically for those who welcomed a baby during COVID called “COVID-19 Baby Parents Group.” These types of groups are just a chat forum to support one another and share ideas and resources.
  • Make sure you are letting your husband know how isolated you feel. He may be doing it already, but if not, ask that your husband check in on you during his work breaks.
  • Make a list of those friends and family for whom you can have regular contact whether by phone, Skype, Facetime, email, or car talk. Ask them for regular virtual or phone visits. Most importantly, let them know how you are feeling. You will find others feel as you do. 
  • Don’t let cold weather keep you from attending outdoor events. Most town recreation centers have developed “safe” family or kid activities to do which can connect and get families out of the house. Some are ongoing weekly events like skating, snowshoeing, or winter walks. One mom told me that she has enjoyed this so much. She bundles up her daughter and puts her in the sled at the event. It is a great place to meet other moms. The fresh, cool air can invigorate both mom and baby, giving you energy.
  • Some local farms are allowing families to visit the animals in the barns. Call ahead and ask. The sights, sounds, and smells of the working farm can make for a wonderful adventure.
  • Reach out to other new moms you may know. Share with them how you are feeling.  
  • Think of someone in your circle of acquaintances who might also be feeling isolated. In helping others, we often help ourselves.
  • Connect to a counselor via teletherapy. Most insurances will pay for this. There are many uncertainties in being a new mom even in times when accessing regular supports is easy. It is common for new parents to experience stress, anxiety, and some experience postpartum depression. The challenges of new parenting are emphasized during a pandemic. Asking for help is the act of a healthy person. 

Stay hopeful! Try something on this list each day. Dwell on thoughts when the pandemic will end and of all things you will want to do and explore with your child. Do not hesitate to reach out for help. We will get through this.

 

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.

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Beyond Baby Blues: Sister is Worried About Sister

My sister had a baby two months ago and I am concerned she may have postpartum depression.

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on November 27th, 2019 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question: My sister had a baby two months ago and I am concerned she may have postpartum depression. She is very overwhelmed, angry and sad. She is very loving toward my niece and I don’t worry about her harming the baby but she seems beyond the “baby blues.” I’ve brought it up to her a couple of times and am met with defensiveness. I can’t help but worry and want to be there for her; just not sure how to best do that. Thanks.

Answer: It is great that your sister has a sister who is so caring, and is looking out for her. You are right to be concerned, because this is a change in her normal behavior, at a time when you would expect she would be joyful. New motherhood is full of emotions and being overwhelmed is a normal feeling. Becoming a parent for the first time is a life changing experience which makes going forward feel very intimidating. This can be so overwhelming. Hormonally, the body is readjusting to not being pregnant. Many new moms worry their bodies will never be the same. Most new parents don’t feel equipped for this great responsibility of child-raising, no matter how prepared they may have thought they were. There may also be other circumstances in her life or relationship, which may be contributing to feeling angry and sad. Recognizing this might help you understand.

Here are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression (these symptoms can be present in new dads, too):

–Depressed mood or mood swings
–Crying spells
–Social Withdrawal
–Feeling Overwhelmed
–Altered eating and sleeping
–Sadness
–Loss of interest in sex
–Overwhelming exhaustion

Postpartum Depression that becomes a medical emergency:

–Unable to sleep
–Confused
–Hallucinations/delusions
–Obsessive and fearful about the baby
–Paranoid thinking
–Refusing to eat
–Thought of harming self or baby

Resource:https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/default.htm

We cannot force people to get help unless they have the potential to harm themselves or someone else. As best as you can; continue to be there for her. Support her as she gains more skill in providing for her child’s needs. Reach out to those in her circle who might also be able to support her with love and patience. Don’t allow her to push you and others away, even when she is irritable and angry, which means not taking offense or walking out. When possible, take the baby and give her time to take care of herself, by napping, bathing, or going for a run. Helping to connect her to other new moms could prove very helpful in just realizing she is not the only one struggling. Lastly, as with most problems, don’t try to fix it, JUST LISTEN, and if she doesn’t want to talk, then just be there. This is real sister time, I wish you the best in your efforts to help.  

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”

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