Lockdown With A Newborn Baby: Help Is At Hand
Lockdown with a newborn baby for some may feel like a daunting prospect...
Others may relish the opportunity to hide away with their newborn at home with no distractions. However you're feeling about spending lockdown with a newborn baby, there's plenty of help on hand for new parents.
There's no doubt that meeting your baby for the first time is one of the most incredible moments of your life. Those tiny toes, the button nose, the enormity of knowing this perfect little creature belongs to you.
But of course, along with all the joy and excitement comes a whole lot of responsibility and not a whole lot of sleep! Those first few weeks with a newborn baby can be an overwhelming time – even when not in the midst of a pandemic.
Whether you're drifting on a cloud of postpartum euphoria, or feeling overwhelmed and exhausted with the pressures of caring for a little one - being in lockdown with a newborn baby is very challenging.
If you are feeling anxious about coping during lockdown with a newborn baby, know that you're not alone. But here are some ideas for making this time memorable for the right reasons.
Look after yourself
The number one tip for new parents is to take care of yourself. It's so tempting to focus all your attention into caring for your newborn, and forget to look after yourself too. After the trials of pregnancy and labour, those sleepless nights take their toll – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Try to eat healthily and drink plenty of water. Your body will need to be fuelled to cope with the reduced sleep you may be getting.
Take a break
Make sure you take some time each day to focus on yourself. You may only get short breaks in those early days so finding something simple that relaxes you – a hot, bubble bath, reading a good book by the fire, ordering your favourite takeaway – can be a helpful break from the intensity of those unpredictable first weeks. Even little things like painting your nails can help you to feel like yourself again.
Talk with other parents
Sharing your experiences with other new parents can be a big support. It's comforting to discover that you're by no means alone in your struggles, and that it's perfectly natural to feel stressed or anxious. With the pandemic limiting our social interactions, lockdown with a newborn baby may feel especially lonely. Getting out and meeting other new parents is an absolute lifeline for many of us. Whilst there are no baby groups or mummy-meetups at the moment, you can still form connections with other new parents via social media and forums. Try some of these excellent organisations for starters:
Mummy Social - Sometimes being a new mum can be really lonely. Mummy Social was set-up by mums to connect you with other mums in your area for friendship and support.
Netmums - A great place to seek advice from other parents, or even just to realise that what you're feeling is totally normal!
Mumsnet - Full of useful articles about parenting, but most of all a place to chat with other parents.
Other parents, mothers-in-law and so on are generally eager to give you far more advice than you wish for on how to parent your baby! Just remember that every baby – and parent – is different and no one knows or loves your baby as well as you do. Take the advice that works for you and leave the advice that doesn’t. There is no single right way to raise a baby.
Although health services are functioning differently than usual during lockdown, your midwife or health visitor will still be available by phone for you to talk through any concerns. Likewise GPs are always happy to discuss any concerns with new parents about their baby’s health.
There is a wealth of information around breastfeeding and infant care online, but remember, Google is not always your friend! There’s all sorts of panic-inducing information out there to discover as you sleepily search for answers during a 2am feed. If you need advice, we recommend consulting well-respected sources. The following are a good place to start:
NHS - The best starting point to find out what services are available for new parents in the UK.
Homestart - A local community network of trained volunteers and expert support helping families with young children in the UK. They have a whole section on their website about support for families during Covid-19.
La Leche - Midwives and health visitors will be able to offer you advice on breastfeeding. But if you need support in the moment, La Leche is the most reliable source of information for expert breastfeeding advice.
Lullaby Trust - We could all use more sleep when we have a newborn! Head to the Lullaby Trust for safe sleep advice.
NCT - The UK's leading charity for parents, offering reliable information and support for parents-to-be and new parents.
Fatherhood Institute - Support and guidance for dads.
Share the burden
After carrying the baby for 9 months it can be tempting for mum to want to continue with all the care, but dads play a vital role, and it's important to remember to work as a team. This is truer than ever without access to a wider support network.
Even if you're breastfeeding, try to share other tasks like rocking the baby to sleep or changing nappies, to build the father-child bond. And don’t be shy to ask for support when you need it, so that you both get a chance to rest.
Enjoy the positives of a quieter life in lockdown with a newborn baby
It's difficult to go very far with a newborn in the first few weeks anyway. The complexities of feeding and changing on the go – as well as your own energy levels – can make leaving the house challenging. So try to focus on the positives of being in lockdown with a newborn baby – the quieter, slower pace of life with fewer expectations on you.
Take comfort in the fact that you're not missing out on any social activities. Use the time to focus on getting to know your baby instead. By the time you're allowed to meet with friends and family again, you'll be far more confident and relaxed about taking the baby out.
Take advantage of any contact you're allowed
Although contact is limited, there are some allowances for meeting up with friends or family, such as going for a walk with one person from another household – a chance to get some fresh air and exercise as well as some social contact.
Anyone with a baby under one year old is currently entitled to form a support bubble in the UK, even during lockdown. This could be a wonderful opportunity to share your little one with someone close to you, and to see their joy in getting to hold such a tiny little creature.
This won't last forever
Being in lockdown with a newborn baby is intense… but it won’t last forever. Try not to the let the struggles of this period overshadow the joy of getting to know your little one. Enjoy the cuddles and gurgles and take plenty of photos to look back on in years to come.
If you're experiencing or have experienced lockdown with a newborn baby, we'd love to hear from you! What's helped you through tough times, and what have you enjoyed about parenting through lockdown?
Reach out on social to join the conversation.