ARLINGTON, Va. — As Mothers celebrate Mother’s Day some new moms are struggling to adjust to having a new baby during the pandemic.
“It is so heartbreaking because this is supposed to be such a joyful time of life and if you're a first time Mom, you hear it in their voices, they're scared, they're anxious,” Theresa Termine, the Executive Director of Postpartum Support Virginia said. “I want moms to feel the joy and the happiness and all the wonderful things that come with having a baby and I feel so bad that they're being cheated of those things.”
Termine said new moms are feeling a sense of loss for what their expectations of birthing and newborn experience would be. She said that’s added to additional stress that has been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead of having friends come in and visit you have one support person allowed into the hospital, they're not allowed to leave, they can't switch out with someone else. And it's all the things the hospital is doing and rightly so, to keep you safe, but it is not what you plan for,” Termine said.
Termine said the sense of isolation can create an increased sense of anxiety and said moms are dealing with stressors that no other mom has dealt with before, making it hard to get advice for something as unprecedented as a pandemic.
Labor and Delivery nurse Meghan Becker said she has heard new families talk about the anxieties they will face once they get home, particularly when it comes to job stability.
“I have heard overheard conversations between patients and significant others about, you know, we're going to go home together but you know, who knows when we're going to go back to work,” Becker said.
Becker said she has also heard concerns about a lack of supplies parents have at home because baby showers have been forced to cancel and there is limited access to get necessary items.
Becker said something else that is abnormal during delivery, besides limiting it to one visitor, everyone including the mother is required to wear a mask during the delivery process.
“That can be a lot because labor and delivering the baby is very exhausting. You need a lot of oxygen for it,” Becker said.
Once parents get home, Termine said the fears and anxiety do not stop. She said there has been an increase in calls to Postpartum Support Virginia since the pandemic began.
“The normal statistic for women experiencing perinatal mood or anxiety disorder is one in five. I will guarantee that that is a much higher percentage, because of the pandemic and I will guarantee that down the line, even when this is over, we see ripple effects,” Termine said.
Termine said it’s fair to say that all new moms are experiencing some element of adding anxiety from the coronavirus.
“They're really struggling," Termine said. "They worry about so many things and there are so few answers. Moms who are pregnant are worried about labor and delivery, moms who've just delivered are worried about the lack of support and feeling guilty over not letting moms and mothers-in-law come to visit."
According to Postpartum Support International, depression in anxiety in pregnancy or postpartum is treatable, no matter how severe the symptoms.
Postpartum Support Virginia has created virtual COVID-19 support groups and those are available for anyone, even outside of Virginia.
“All we want to do is give them the resources to get the most out of this experience and look back on it, not with a sense of sadness, but with a sense of accomplishment, because moms are warriors and moms will get through anything,” Termine said.
Postpartum Support International also has COVID-19 resources and helplines available to moms, dads, families, or anyone looking for resources.