Editor’s note: This post was updated on May 9, 2022.
Bringing a new baby home is exciting, but can also be a challenge. Baby blues, or a feeling of sadness after a new baby, is extremely common, and one in five women develop postpartum depression or anxiety.
This has been especially true during the pandemic, as families have found themselves in various stages of lockdown all around the world. A Canadian study found postpartum depression rates tripled and postpartum anxiety rates more than doubled during the lockdown of spring 2020.
Rates of baby blues, or general sadness during early parenting, have also been documented, and there are a number of reasons for these mental health issues, including the fact that new parents are more isolated with less support during what is typically a stressful time. Many of the expected support systems, such as relatives, early parenting groups, and school for older children, are not available.
The pandemic continues, but as we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel, there are important things you can do to care for yourself if you are home with a new baby.
And please remember, if you are struggling or worried about harming yourself or your baby please reach out to a loved one, a mental health therapist, or one of the resources below:
Seek out virtual therapy
While traditional therapy is done in person, online therapy has become the norm since the start of the pandemic. And while this may be different, there is no reason it doesn’t work just as well. Most therapists are offering their services online that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Get moving with a virtual group
Postnatal yoga courses are available online all over the world. While these aren’t the same as being in person, they come with many of the same benefits: the chance to move your body in a safe way, the chance to connect with your new baby, and the chance to connect with new parents, albeit online. Movement is a wonderful way to improve your mood, even if you’re depressed or blue.
Go on a (distanced) walk with another new parent
Dress your baby appropriately and get out of the house! Getting outside can be so beneficial. You can safely bundle up your baby in a carrier or stroller and go for a walk on your own or with another new parent. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of nature in helping with anxiety and depression. You don’t need to head into the forest either—something as simple as a stroll in your local park can be beneficial.
Reach out and ask for help and practice saying no
This is the advice I always give to new parents. It may just be calling a friend and talking to them for a while. If you have a partner, letting them know how they can best support you. Asking for help with food, whether it’s home-cooked or a gift card for a delivery service. And letting go of some of the things you “should” do may also mean that your dishes get dirty, but you get a nap.
Embrace the benefits of being at home
Whether you are a first-time mom or have done this before, being a mom during a global pandemic makes you a hero. Yet with all the extra challenges there are some benefits. You don’t have to depend on the baby’s schedule to get anywhere. Baby is feeding or napping right when the postpartum group is about to start? No worries, you can sign on anyways. Baby won’t stop crying during postpartum yoga? You can mute your computer and feed them right there. And you now have access to teachers and leaders all around the world, so if you want to do yoga at 5 a.m., when your baby is in the best mood, you may be able to find someone offering that class in a different timezone.
While parenting is never easy, the last two years have been a particular challenge. Navigating these times with a newborn really does make you a superstar. Parenting will always come with unexpected challenges and surprises but please take to heart that you’ve been managing a large one right out of the gate.
Emily Gold is a yoga therapist and teacher, doula, and public health specialist. She is currently living abroad, in Brussels, Belgium.