"Momming" During a Quarantine: Emotional and Psychological Support
Candice Weber BFA, RP (Q)
Grief and Bereavement Counselling
Candice is an interdisciplinary therapist offering extended support in grief and bereavement counselling. She has additional certification and interest in movement therapy, crainosacrial therapy, intuitive body focused somatic therapy and talk therapy.
MANAGING THROUGH MOTHERHOOD
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum is the window after having a baby that women typically feel sad or empty as their hormones have completely changed. The placenta not only delivers the nutrients and blood supply to your baby during gestation, but it also regulates all the necessary hormones that your body needs to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
When your baby is born, the placenta is removed and therefore, so are all the hormones that your body has been carrying to support your pregnancy. This sudden drop in the hormones levels is a major contributor to "the baby blues" inconsistent high and low feelings.
Along with hormone changes, a few other major contributors of postpartum depression are a change in diet or appetite, lack of sleep and lack of support. We may feel like we're being deprived of some of our very basic needs.
Even if you don't experience these feelings at a heightened level as a new mom, they may still be there. With COVID-19, they are intensified due to heightened feelings of fear and panic.
MASLOW'S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS AND POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a five tier model that illustrates what we need at a base level to survive as human beings.
The physiological needs on the bottom tier need to be met first before we can move upwards. Ideally, once we have learned how to get our needs met, the goal is to continue to nurture and grow, creating a happier and healthier life.
As a new mom, you have just experienced a complete life change. Your diet may change, lack of sleep will be very prevalent, there will be many lifestyle and relationship changes as you try and navigate your role as a new mom. When you are struggling to meet your very basic needs (a good, balanced diet and sleep) you may experience the following:
Inability to make sound decisions
Mentally feeling not present
Anxiety, guilt, sadness
Difficulty bonding with your baby
There can be a lack of understanding and awareness around what we need as new mom's, even if you're on your second or third baby. It is easy to disconnect from ourselves because naturally, the focus becomes the new baby we are totally responsible to care for. Some women have other small children that also need to be cared for, and that adds additional pressure. It is difficult to function when we forget to look after ourselves too.
So, Here are the Questions you need to evaluate
1. Are you getting enough sleep?
2. Are you eating well? If not, how has your appetite and/or diet changed?
3. Do you have help? Do you have a partner who is engaged, helpful, caring and able to communicate. Do they ask what you need or are you able to express your needs and have them met?
4. What are your expectations of yourself as a new mother?
5. Do you feel safe?
If perhaps you are trying to live up to an unrealistic idea and expectation without giving yourself fundamental care - like sleeping, eating and breathing well - everything can feel unmanageable (even with help) and can intensify postpartum feelings.
Cultivating awareness and asking for help is key. When you notice your feelings are getting to the level of "unmanageable", there are strategies to manage the "unmanageable" level. If you are feeling like you are unable to cope, this is the non-negotiable time to seek help.
It's important to "put on your emergency mask first before anyone else", see the video below for an example!
COMMUNITY AND BELONGING
Belonging, community, friendships, relationships, family. During these times, we are so limited in our contact - we are physically alone but not socially alone. We can FaceTime our friends, call our parents, join online mom/support groups. We are in this together, but we are not all on the same level.
It's important to find community and belonging. Reach out, ask questions and build resources - a platform to have tools and access these things at a level we can attain at this time. Below are some good tips to keep in mind when it comes to support and resources.
GET PRESENT - BE THE BEST YOU
The majority of women and especially new mothers will notice, more often than not, their heightened feelings of anger and fear, irritability, exhaustion. Take some time for yourself, even if it's only five minutes. Sip that cup of tea and embrace something that brings you comfort! This is your time to "get present".
Get to know your baby, talk to your partner, work on getting needs met and co-creating a healthy relationship. We aren't running on auto pilot anymore, however we can manage these changes by getting present, centered and shifting into a state of awareness so we can understand what we really need during this time.
So, how do you go about doing this?
Take a deep breathe and tell yourself you got this
Take time for yourself
Ask for help!
Be that person taking the first step and make the connections
You matter and your needs matter. You cannot be the optimal, efficient mom you need to be if your basic needs are not met.
You need to give yourself time. Carve out some time for yourself.
Be aware of your feelings and seek help
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