A lot has changed for new parents because of COVID-19. Typically bringing home your new baby would follow with a flood of visitors and gatherings, but things look a little bit different these days. With COVID-19 remaining a real concern, you’ll now have to determine what’s safe and what’s smart when it comes to showing your little miracle off to the world. Even family and friends may wonder how they can support your growing family from a safe distance without being a burden—or a super spreader.
“Having a new baby is a huge life change, and you still will need help from family and friends in the early stages of motherhood,” said Lindsay Allen, MD, an OBGYN at Banner Health Center in Arizona. “Parenting isn’t something you can do in isolation. All parents need support.”
Even if you’re taking every precaution, you can still seek help from your family and friends. In return, your family and friends can provide the support you need while still protecting you and your family from infection.
To get specific guidance, we spoke with Dr. Allen and new mom, Brandie Beuthin, RN, an infection prevention regional director at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, for their advice on how to bridge the COVID-19 challenges.
Tips for New Moms and Parents
Sleepless nights, endless poopy diapers and laundry piling up. Being a new parent (whether the first, second or fourth time) is exhausting. Here are some positive ways to help you get through this challenging time.
1. Subscribe to grocery delivery or pick-up
From paid memberships like Instacart to free apps like Walmart Pick-Up, there are plenty of ways to take the headache out of grocery shopping these days. In fact, so many grocery store chains, restaurants and even pharmacies like CVS have jumped on board with free drive-up and pick-up options. No more having to run to the store between your baby's naps or trying to soothe them in the store.
2. Take this time to bond
So often with the excitement of a new baby, everyone and their mother wants to visit. Now that it’s just you and the baby—and possibly their new siblings—take this quiet time to count their fingers and toes, cuddle together on the couch and catch their first smiles and giggles.
“We really missed not being able to take the baby on outings or introducing her to all of our family and friends, but in the end, it was the right choice for us,” Beuthin said. “Because it was just the three of us, we could get to know and bond with the baby, and my husband and I grew closer together.”
3. See friends and family virtually or from afar
Thankfully COVID-19 didn’t occur in the 90s, or else we’d be sending VHS tapes and photos as a means of staying connected. Now you can Facetime, Zoom, Skype, House Party, you name it. You can even share photos and videos with the click of a finger via social media or through photo shares. If outdoor weather permits, you can also schedule an outdoor meet-and-greet so family and friends can come by and see the baby from a safe distance.
4. Limit in-home visits to only those you know and trust
“Find ways to have those you’d like to be involved in helping out keep safe by quarantining at home with them in the first month or two of baby’s life, ensuring the support people don’t have high risks of COVID-19 exposure, and use handwashing and mask wearing when appropriate,” Dr. Allen said. “Another consideration is to delay until baby is a bit older, about two to three months under the same safety practices.”
Any family and friends who’ll be in your inner circle should also consider getting their booster vaccine of Tdap and flu shot, if possible.
5. Get out in nature
Go for walks, alone or with the baby, and get some fresh air (if your doctor approves, of course). It’s a “great way to start getting active in the recovery process after baby is born while keeping safe and avoiding large crowds,” Dr. Allen said. This is also an opportunity to go on a socially distanced walk with a friend or family member.
6. Don’t skip postpartum appointments
The birth of a baby brings on strong emotions in normal times, but now feelings can be magnified. Following up with your obstetrical provider is very important, especially given the increased risk for postpartum depression. Your doctor should also check to make sure you are healing well from delivery, guide you in lifting any restrictions as time progresses postpartum and discuss contraceptive options and family planning.
For additional pregnancy and new parent tips, check out this helpful toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tips For Friends and Family
Even if you’re practicing social distancing, you can still stay connected and receive help from family and friends—whether near or far. Chances are they are biting at the bit to help too! If those in your life are asking for ways to help, don’t just brush them off. Here are six ways they can support you and your bundle of joy.
1. Set up a meal train or purchase gift cards
Meal train deliveries are another option that have been around for a while. You can set-up and have people sign up to drop off meals (taking the necessary safety precautions) or have a meal delivery service drop something off at their door. “The meal deliveries were so helpful while we were settling in at home and learning how to take care of the baby,” Beuthin said.
Another way to provide support is giving the new mom and parents gift cards. Whether it’s Walmart or Amazon, you can provide support for meals and any other financial expenses associated with being a new parent.
2. Ask her how she’s doing
So many of us, especially moms, power through things often at the expense of our physical and mental health. Call, text, FaceTime and check in with her and see how she’s doing on a regular basis. New parents will often need mental health support after bringing a new baby home. Provide her reassurance, solicited advice and let her know she’s doing a great job.
3. Stay away when you’re sick
This should go without saying, but if you aren’t feeling your best, just stay home. It may just be a head cold, but don’t unnecessarily put the new baby and parents at risk.
4. Get your booster vaccine for Tdap
Any family or friends who will be in close contact with the newborn in the first few months of life should consider getting a booster vaccine of Tdap and a flu shot, if possible.
5. Host a virtual or socially distanced gathering
There’s nothing like bringing together some of their closest family and friends to brighten their day. Host a virtual game night, share some funny new parenting stories or simply keep the conversation focused on them and how you can support them.
6. Celebrate the siblings
When a newborn comes, some siblings may feel a bit slighted. They may wonder, “Why does the new baby get all the attention now and all my old clothes and blankies?” Send over some crafts and new play toys to keep them entertained or give them things that will help them feel like they are a helpful big brother or sister.
Even during these uncertain times, babies are a reminder of the hope and beauty in this world. Take this time to celebrate the new miracle in your life. And remember, just because we are in a pandemic, you don’t have to do this alone.
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