Written By: Rachel Sheldon, MA, LPC, NCC
People often imagine pregnancy as a time of hopes and dreams filled with positivity, but often moms can feel very different than they expected even if the pregnancy has been a long-time plan. Working through that “mom-guilt” can be one of the most difficult and most important things to be able to do during pregnancy and postpartum. Primary caregivers often encounter feelings of shame, embarrassment, or guilt surrounding the decisions they make in course of pregnancy and raising their children. During the covid-19 pandemic, increased fear, anxiety, and isolation it may feel even harder to manage the stress and anxiety of navigating a new arrival. While these feelings may never dissipate entirely, there are steps you can take to help keep them in check and use them to your advantage.
- Set Boundaries. Setting clear boundaries and expectations can be really hard, and without them you may be left feeling that increase in guilt. Letting others know ahead of time what you need and practicing asking for help in small ways to is so important.
- Find connection. It is harder than usual to connect to others in this time of social distancing and can leave a lot of caregivers feeling more isolated and disconnected than ever. It is important to take advantage of the virtual ways to connect with others and enjoy the moments with others to the fullest.
- Acknowledge your limitations and strengths. All moms are different. Know what you enjoy and don’t enjoy. The more that you can parent from your strengths, the better off you and your child will be. Maybe you are the creative mom, the outdoors mom, or the cooking mom. Your child will love discovering these things with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to address your limitations.
- Make rest a priority. Again, asking for help is important so you can get the rest you need to help fight off that mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Sleep is one of the most important components to healing from postpartum mood disorders, anxiety or depression.
- Get Moving. Make sure to consult with your doctor about healthy and safe exercise routines. Try to get your body moving and celebrating the way your body is constantly changing during this time. Celebrate the new ways your body may be moving and appreciate your body for what it has done during pregnancy.
- Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene. It is so easy to let hygiene fall to the wayside. You are exhausted and have someone needing you at all times. A quick shower or bath can help provide you with that mood and energy boost.
- Focus on the big picture. Providing the love and nurturing environment for yourself, your partner, and your children is most important. Don’t get distracted by the little things.
- Take it day by day… The days can be long, but take care of yourself and your family the best you can. Ask for help when you need it. Connect with your partner and your children in meaningful ways. Don’t forget to breath! A simple deep breath can go along ways when the stress of parenting has its grip.
Stuart, A. (2020). Mom Guilt. PSI. https://www.postpartum.net/psi-blog/mom-guilt/
Stuart, A. (2020). Practical Solutions for Postpartum Self-Care. PSI. https://www.postpartum.net/psi-blog/practical-solutions-for-postpartum-self-care/
Wamsley, L. (2020, July 17). Safe Pregnancy As COVID-19 Surges: What’s Best For Mom And Baby? NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/07/17/891455307/navigating-pregnancy-risks-in-the-covid-19-era