Becoming a FTM is always a bit daunting, it’s wonderful and exciting, but at times it can also be frightening, confusing and you might feel lonely and isolated. To all those who have given birth during Covid19, or are pregnant right now, we want to support you. We understand that this has brought a whole new level of mixed emotions and anxiety to your experience.
For many new mums the experience has been totally surreal; midwives’ wearing full PPE for their baby checks and the absence of grandparents and aunties and uncles has felt completely abnormal. Even the small things, such as not even being able to offer your midwife a cup of tea has been upsetting, especially after having built a special relationship with those with whom you have come to trust and rely on during your pregnancy.
FTMs have had to find a new way of settling into a life with a baby to look after. NCT meet ups are now Zoom chats, and ‘virtual’ support is really important in helping new mums to thrive. Feeling connected to the world outside of the home, is important to you and your baby’s wellbeing.
Social distancing rules might have paused your family and friends being able to visit and help as they usually would, but it doesn’t have to mean they can’t help you at all.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and although your loved ones can’t all come and take turns to hold your new gorgeous bundle, they can help you in other ways.
So, if a friend offers to cook you up a lasagne for tea, say yes! Lack of sleep will mean you need to save your energy where you can. Don’t try to be a super-mum - dial down expectations of yourself and whatever you do, do not feel guilty for it!
Poppy, new mum of five-week baby Teddy, said the ‘new normal’ has taken some of the pressure off having to go out to all the baby groups, because even getting yourself showered and dressed can be hard some days. She’s made the most of the time spent with her husband working from home. “We can have a lie in, in the morning. The baby can be fed, his nappy changed and then we can have a few more hours sleep before he starts work. We do try and get out for a walk every day and normally go on his lunch break, but I don’t feel bad about not getting out if I don’t feel like it”
FTM Hannah has an amazingly supportive NCT group: “One of the positives is we’re all here for each other. We’re supporting each other because we don’t have that outside help at the minute. My husband works away as a firefighter and I’d managed four days and nights on my own with Ada and felt so proud of myself, and they were there to cheer me on. I’ve got to know Ada really, really well, and have learnt to trust my own instincts.” Hannah has also had her rocky moments during lockdown. “I’ve missed out on not having the baby-weigh ins and reassurance that my baby is ok, so I do feel unsure sometimes. Ada suffered a bout of jaundice, so I was constantly worried she might relapse, but Face Timing my mum and sisters has helped, and again my NCT group has been great. We’re on the end of the phone for each other, even in the middle of the night. My friends’ baby was suffering with colic at 1am the other night, and one of us is always there for support."
If you do begin to feel low, don’t hide for fear of being judged. PND, Post Natal Depression, is more common than you might think. The ‘baby blues’ will subside over time, but PND can sometimes stick around, causing you to feel depressed. It’s really important to ask for help if you need it, PANDAS Foundation are a great support, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and they have a free helpline you can call too.
Professional Midwife, Alexis Stickland, and Doula, Becky Hands, have written a wonderful book called ‘The Little Book of Self-Care for New Mums’ It’s a handy survival guide to managing the emotional and physical rollercoaster of becoming a new mum. It’s beautifully illustrated, and covers everything you need to know about the postnatal period to feel supported and empowered.
The Positive Birth Company are also offering FREE online Antenatal and Postnatal Breastfeeding Workshops. So, if you are struggling and can’t get in touch with your midwife, check out their You Tube channel and find help and support to feel confident and calm while feeding your baby. They’ve also got some handy tips for sore nipples, plus they can point you in the right direction for breast feeding videos, which really help in explaining how to get into the best position for your baby to latch on.
The NCT also have breastfeeding counsellors you can call FREE of charge on 0300 330 0700. The line is open every day from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays.
It’s important to have fun and bond with your new baby. It might feel like they can’t do very much when they are completely tiny and new, but sensory play is a great place to start. The Newborn Sensory Box from The Little Sensory Box is fantastic – you might be surrounded by pastels and primary colours, but did you know that monochrome is great for your baby’s visual development?
With all the baby groups closed right now, both new and established online groups will cheer the heart, give your day structure and help with socialisation for both you and your baby. Below are four, just to get you started, but do let us know of any others and we’ll include them in this list!
Treat yourself, you deserve it! And, if you don’t know where to start (because all you've thought about is baby), then Banks Lyon Botanical have a gorgeous range of organic products that can help soothe, and smell divine. They also have a range of baby massage oil too. They are uniquely British, independent, cruelty free and care about sustainability.
Find ways to make new parenting life that little bit easier! Supermarket shopping with a new baby in tow is difficult enough. By having a weekly veg box you can get fresh, organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables delivered to your door each week. Avoid running out of those everyday essentials and take some of the bulkier items off your list. Who Gives a Crap will deliver you the toilet rolls you need as often as you need them, and they help build toilets for people who need them. SMOL will deliver eco-friendly laundry and dishwasher capsules through your letterbox, you can trial for free too. And with around 10 nappy changes a day in those first months you'll need lots of nappies, with a Mama Bamboo nappy subscription you can skip or change your order anytime you need to.
It’s been a time of uncertainty and worry for mama’s everywhere, but it won’t last forever. One day, hopefully not too far away, you’ll be able to have your whole family over to take it in turns to hold your beautiful baby, and you will be able to finally sit in a coffee shop with friends and put the world to right. Until then, search for help when you need it, trust in yourself and remember you’re doing amazing!
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