There’s no doubt that life in recent times has thrown us some curveballs, and for those who are having a baby or are pregnant in the midst of the pandemic, there’s an extra set of challenges. Epworth HealthCare psychiatrist Dr Andrea Rapmund explains how new and expecting parents can look after themselves during this time.
She says that with restrictions limiting interaction with friends and family, it’s totally normal to feel disappointed when things look very different from what you had anticipated and planned for.
“Some people talk about grieving the loss of expected experiences and these can be really hard feelings to have when, on the other hand, you’re having this incredibly joyful time of welcoming a new member to the family,” Dr Rapmund says.
“Times of uncertainty and change like this can often lead to increased anxiety and it’s important for us to acknowledge those feelings rather than suppressing them.
“If we tend to suppress uncomfortable feelings they can get stronger and more intense, and so if we’re able to acknowledge them it’s then that we can manage them more easily.
“Things might look different at the moment, but it’s just as important as ever to seek help from our support systems. This might not be in the traditional ways that we’re used to, but it’s time to get creative – connecting with people online and on the phone.”
She notes that another thing that’s really important is making time for self-care, adding that though it can seem like a throwaway phrase, self-care is absolutely crucial.
“It’s more important than ever that we’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves.
“We need to remind ourselves that we’re not aiming for perfection. We often talk about ‘good enough parenting’ and at the moment, things might have to be good enough.
“It’s a good idea to have some sort of routine to your day – whether it be as simple as getting up at a certain time, having three healthy meals a day and having some things scheduled in throughout the day, acknowledging that things don’t always go to plan with a newborn at home.
“Maintaining good nutrition, getting adequate sleep where possible and exercising during the day can also help with our mental health.
“Make sure that you also schedule in some pleasurable activities; remember what the things are that make you feel good. Make that time for yourself – it might look different due to current restrictions, but it’s still important.”
She encourages adding relaxation strategies into your day, for example:
■ Breathing techniques
■ Mindfulness techniques – you could try the Epworth Moments of Mindfulness playlist on Spotify
■ Progressive muscle relaxation
“Finding a middle ground with media, where we can stay informed but not feel overwhelmed can also improve our wellbeing.
“Remember, if your mood is persistently low or anxious, speak with your doctor. You’re not alone and there is support available.”
Epworth Geelong, 1 Epworth Place, Waurn Ponds. Enquiries: 5271 7777 or www.epworth.org.au