My heart goes out to expecting mums at the moment, particularly first time mums. It should be a time of being able to enjoy their pregnancy, be around their supportive network of friends and family, and attend birth classes at their hospital.
I have put together a list of suggestions that might help a little. Becoming a new mum can be isolating during normal times, so it's really important that expecting new mums put some plans in place to find new ways of staying connected, and knowing where they can find the support that they need. Things may be different at this stage, but it will still be possible to stay connected to your close friends and family, and to be able to celebrate this exciting new stage that you're entering. Welcoming your baby into the world is honestly the most incredible experience, so let's get you set up to really enjoy it!
- Try to connect with a mum or two who are expecting at the same time as you. I found that it was mums in my mother's group that I related to most; simply because they were going through the same stages as me. My other friends who had babies or children before me had often forgotten the specific details at each stage [as I have since having my two bubs!]. If you can establish some good connections in the lead up to your birth, you will be able to keep the communication open once your baby arrives. If you don't know anyone near you, you can always seek out other mums in Mums + Bubs Facebook groups in your area.
- Prep some meals for your freezer well before your due date. I would recommend this to mums at any time, but particularly in the current circumstances. There will be days that you don't have the energy to cook a meal from scratch, so they will be a godsend to pull a quick and easy meal out of the freezer, yet be able to get plenty of nourishment at the same time.
- Encourage grandparents to have FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype already set up before the birth. It means you can have regular chats with them in the lead up, but you can introduce your baby as soon as you're ready in hospital. I wonder if there are ways you could record those video sessions too as it would be pretty special to capture the beautiful intro's to look back on later. It would also be very handy to get some form of tripod, just so you can keep chatting while you're feeding or changing nappies! You can pick up cheap ones around $10 in places like Target or Big W.
- Do some research in the final stages of your pregnancy for some services that you may wish to utilise once bubs arrives. The consultations may well be run via Skype or Zoom, but it will be helpful to have their contact details ready should you need them. Suggested services to consider would be a Lactation Consultant for Breastfeeding advice, a sleep consultant or a private midwife.
- Choose a close friend who is already a mum and ask them if they would like to act as a mentor. I was lucky to have one in particular who kept in contact with me closely every step of the way. It helped so much as she knew what was happening and was a great sounding board to throw around possible solutions to what I was going through. I also think I may have suffered in silence at times if I didn't have my friend to chat to, as it would seem like a lot to explain to someone else.
- Set up a list of key numbers that you can call if you have any questions along the way. You will have a phone service at your hospital for the first few weeks, but you can also reach out to the Maternal and Child Health Phone service in your state/country. These services have nurses that you can speak to 24/7 to ask any questions that may arise. I was a regular caller of these services and really appreciated their support!
- For Australia, Pregnancy, Birth & Baby is a national service available to expecting and new mums. They have phone or video calls available 24/7 with nurses. In Australia, you will also be allocated a Maternal and Child Health Nurse in your local area, who will get in contact once you arrive home with your baby.
Isolation is quite normal in some cultures. In the Chinese culture, a traditional practice called 'Zuo Yuezi' or 'sitting out a month' is carried out, where new mothers rest up at home for a month. During this period, mothers stay indoors for a month and avoid non-family visitors during that period also. They believe that it allows a mother to recover from the birth, as well as having time to fully focus on your baby, which will help improve the bonding process.
Normally in the western society, we try hard to welcome all of the visitors in those early days, and to be able to say you managed to get out of the house for a walk earns a pat on the back, but perhaps slowing down and staying at home will have some beautiful benefits for both you, your baby and your new family that you have just created ❤️
Image Credit: Jess Worrall Photography [Melbourne]