In a normal world, many parents bring their newborns home from the hospital, and are supported with visits from everyone ranging from excited friends to doting grandparents. With the pandemic, the rules have changed leaving new parents solo at home wiith little support.
With that in mind, we asked Jada Shapiro, maternal health expert and the founder of boober, to share her top tips on how to make life at home with a newborn during COVID, just a little bit easier.
You’ve got this, Mama.
Create your (virtual) village for newborn care support
Make a list of friends and family you can call or video chat with at any hour. Not just any friends and family. The ones you can call while you’re crying, nursing or laughing, or doing all three at once. The people who get you, who won’t judge you, and who are just good listeners. And especially the ones with lots of baby experience!
Try Postpartum Doula support (virtual or in-person when/where safe).
Postpartum doulas are a wonderful lifeline when caring for your baby in isolation and can provide tailored newborn care to help make early parenting easier. Postpartum doulas are trained professionals who help people transition to parenthood. They provide baby care plus you care! Virtually, they provide emotional support, professional, compassionate listening, and education about all things newborn like bathing, nail clipping, diaper-changing, babywearing, and more. They will be there to answer your questions and provide encouragement as you learn the parenting ropes. You can book just one session at a time or you can book a chunk of hours so that you know you can call, text or video whenever you need your doula.
Wear your baby: A lifesaver to soothe your baby
Babywearing is one of the easiest ways to help calm a crying baby and soothe them into sleep while leaving you hands-free. Babies biologically expect to be held a lot of the time. When we wear our babies, their temperatures are steadier, their breathing is more regulated and they are calmer. When parents wear babies, we improve our milk production (if lactating), we make more bonding hormones and we build confidence as parents. The 3 most common types of baby carriers to try are structured carrier, stretchy wraps, and woven wrap carriers.
Set up a comfy feeding station and feed your baby on demand
You will feed your baby 8-15 times per day or every 1-3 hours on average. Each feed can take 10-30 or more minutes. Babies feed A LOT! If you breastfeed, feeding frequently, on-demand will help build your milk supply. You will spend a lot of your day feeding your infant, so you may as well be comfy! Create a feeding station with a comfortable glider or rocking chair, footrest, nursing pillow, a small table for snacks and beverages. Your supply needs will vary whether nursing or bottle-feeding. Have your pillow, burp cloths, nursing pads, breast pump, bottles, snacks for you, Lanolin for sore nipples, and whatever you need for your feeding time nearby and ready to go.
Set up baby care stations around the house
If you have a larger home or multiple floors, create a changing station on each floor or in different areas so that when your baby pees or poops, you are always somewhat near a changing station! Keep your station well-stocked with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, etc.
Sleep when your baby sleeps (at least 1-2 times per day)
I know this is easier said than done, but make this a priority. Sleep reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and not enough sleep increases our risk. While you will definitely be tired, if you force yourself to at least get horizontal during the day soon after your newborn falls asleep (rather than doing dishes, or writing thank-you notes), you are likely to doze off as well. Grabbing these short rests or naps throughout the day will help you feel better during the night when your baby is likely to nurse or feed and wake much more often in the first 3 weeks or so.
Keep an eye out for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Remember that Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are very treatable. Tell someone and start feeling better sooner. While the baby blues, big ups and downs in your mood in the first days after having a baby are normal due to large hormonal shifts, if you are not feeling like yourself, feeling more down, irritable, or more anxious than usual and this lasts for more than 10-14 days, reach out to a mental health therapist who specializes in the postpartum period.