- Posted by Emma Fraser
- On 20th March 2020
- Reading Time: 3 minutes
In such an uncertain time, with Coronavirus affecting services and communities, there are a lot of challenges facing pregnancy, birth and those early postnatal weeks.
Many people may be worried about grandparents, family and friends not getting to meet their new babies or the thought of being holed up in the house for the next few months.
But is there a silver lining?
For years now I have been working with expectant parents, sharing the benefits of the fourth trimester – that time where your baby is adjusting to the outside world – and making the most of this time. Sights, sounds and sensations are all so different and unfamiliar to their little bodies, and often in our busy lives we just don’t have the time to stop and take account of what these little babies are experiencing. We still have the shopping to do, older children to look after, people to visit or work to be getting on with.
But, what about now, in these times of social distancing? Many more partners are working from home, or are in isolation for health or personal reasons. Mothers are restricted from popping out to the shops or nipping to a friend’s house. Family and friends are unlikely to drop by for an unannounced visit.
The benefits of this undisturbed time for babies and families is likely to have life-long impacts:
- Having a supportive partner in the house that can simply be there a little more, giving mums the chance to grab a shower or lunch, can help reduce the stress levels a new mum may be feeling. Maybe even give mum a massage, or let her have a midday nap.
- Protected breastfeeding without interruptions from family and friends will likely lead to more breastfeeding success.
- Protected bottle feeding with just mum or dad doing the bottle feeds may lead to babies feeling more secure and parents getting more precious bonding time with their babies.
- Make the most of the opportunity for lots of undisturbed skin-to-skin contact with new babies. In normal circumstances, the doorbell could ring with a visitor at any time. For the next few weeks, at least, that is unlikely – so get comfy, get those buttons open and snuggle that soft cosy baby.
- Evidence has shown the massive benefits of talking and signing with babies. In a house where there are only a few of you, and rare visitors to talk to, what better to do than talk to that beautiful little person you created!
- Take the time for little projects and learning new things:
- baby footprint paintings,
- learn baby massage online (or find one of your local providers now offering virtual options),
- check out postnatal exercise videos,
- learn some baby sign
- If you have an older child, get them involved as well – snuggling, singing and talking to their little brother or sister, creating handprints and footprints. It will help to ease the transition for them, as well as start to build that bond between siblings.
- Use the time to adjust to life with a new addition to the family, talk about your hopes and fears, hold each other, hug often (although go easy on the baby-making – there is going to be enough work for midwives and doulas in 9/10 months!)
But even if you won’t be seeing family and friends, that social interaction and support are vital. There are so many ways today to be virtually connected, whether that’s through video calls or a Whatsapp group. And if you need a little bit of extra support, for instance with getting breastfeeding established, Facebook is full of individuals and groups that are there to help. Just because you are distancing, you shouldn’t feel isolated.
Share your thoughts
• Have your postnatal expectations have changed?
• Have you noticed any benefits to your new little family?
• Share your tips for being at home with a new baby at this time.