Postpartum Support in a Time of Social Distancing
Being a new parent is challenging and sometimes isolating. With the added worry of a global pandemic, I imagine that any symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression may be exacerbated right now. Before social distancing was recommended and enforced, new parents were often encouraged to connect with others to stave off signs of depression and anxiety. How can we do that now? Especially if our family includes individuals who are high-risk or immunocompromised? Besides phone calls to family members and trusted friends in lieu of personal visits or parent group meetings, seeking online mental health resources may help new parents feel supported and less isolated at this time. (I also want to emphasize that online resources should not be a substitute for seeking medical or professional help if your symptoms of PPD are severe. Please consult with your doctor if you feel that symptoms are worsening, preventing you from completing daily tasks, and getting in the way of caring for yourself and your baby.)
Below is a list of online resources that I've compiled that may be helpful for first-time mothers, parents and caregivers. Each organization's name has been hyperlinked to the source, and I've given a short description for each.
Postpartum Support International - This expansive resource includes helpline numbers to call or text, educational material to read, and online support groups. The website also includes links to other social media, e.g. YouTube videos.
Baby Blues Connection - This resource is specific to parents in the Portland-Metro Area. They also offer a helpline number to call or text, reading material and printable resources, and offer free online support groups.
Alexandra Sacks, M.D. - Dr. Sacks is a reproductive psychiatrist and expert on matrescence, the developmental stage that individuals experience when they transition into motherhood. I recommend her podcast "Motherhood Sessions" and her Instagram @alexandrasacksmd as educational resources.
The Mom Psychologist - Dr. Jazmine McCoy is a clinical psychologist who offers online parenting courses and free written resources on her blog. I highly recommend her Instagram @themompsychologist for helpful graphics on parenting toddlers and young children, and managing parent-related stress.
MomBrain Therapist, @mombrain.therapist - Instagram account run by Bryce Reddy, LMHC, focused on providing affirming, nonjudgmental support for parents and new mothers. The posts include graphics that are colorful and impactful, and the written captions are great for days when you have just a few minutes at a time to read something.
Pump Momma Pump, @pump_momma_pump - Instagram account run by Melissa Guerriero focused on providing education and support for mothers who pump and breastfeed. Times of high stress can impact lactation and milk production, so having a resource can be helpful.
Feeding Littles - This resource may be valuable for parents navigating stress related to baby-led weaning and toddler feeding. The providers are Megan McNamee, MPH, RDN, CLT, and Judy Delaware, OTR/L. They offer online courses on their website and provide free educational resources on their Instagram account @feedinglittles.
The online resources I've listed are just a few that new parents may find helpful to feel more supported and less isolated during a time of social distancing. I also recommend looking at Facebook groups for moms or parents; these generally provide more interaction than Instagram posts. Specific groups like Stay At Home Moms, Stay At Home Dads, Physician Moms, Teacher Moms, etc. can provide more particular support. Local parent groups may have also shifted their groups online, so it may help to call or send an email to ask.
I also want to be mindful about how access to online resources can be a privilege, as not everyone may have access to technology and internet outside of work and school settings. If this is the case, and you have basic telephone access, please use your phone to call a friend or family member when you start to feel lonely or overwhelmed. Simultaneously, if you have a family member or friend who just had a baby, or has young children, please don't forget to call or send them a text message.
Social distancing can take an emotional toll on people, especially those experiencing specific life circumstances that may require interaction with others. Even for introverts who enjoy time alone, too much of anything doesn't feel too great after a while (the analogy I like to use with clients is sitting in a bath or taking a hot shower -- it feels wonderful and relaxing within a certain amount of time, but if you're there for too long, your body will start sending signals that it's time to get out. This can be the difference between time alone to recharge vs. feeling isolated.) Hearing another human voice, or seeing someone's face virtually, can help someone feel less isolated, especially if they're feeling the stress of new parenthood.
Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Link here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/postpartum-support-time-social-distancing-eliza-mcbride/