Having a newborn baby is stressful, and there’s an additional layer of concern when you’re a new mom trying to find your way in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
That’s why I recently turned to Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore, to get her top tips for moms with newborns during the COVID-19 crisis.
Not only has Dr. Wen been a leading voice in public health and a frequent national commentator on coronavirus, she also gave birth to her second child, Isabelle Wen Walker, earlier this month. Here’s what Dr. Wen told me:
1. Ask for help when you need to.
“The postpartum period is one of the most vulnerable times in women's lives. Know that it's normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed,” said Dr. Wen. “Don't be afraid to ask for help — from your partner, from your doctor and from your loved ones.”
2. Get a virtual support system.
Because of social distancing, it’s likely that you cannot see family and friends in person. That can be difficult both emotionally and physically.
“Set up virtual support systems,” advised Dr. Wen. “Replace face-to-face time with FaceTime and set up Skype and Zoom dates. Remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. The person-to-person connection is more important than ever.”
3. Be one with nature.
“Get outside,” stressed Dr. Wen. “Fresh air and exercise is good for everyone. Don't isolate yourself indoors. Go out and enjoy the nice weather with regular walks. Stay six-feet away from others and practice social distancing, of course, but make sure to get out and about.”
4. Find your mom tribe.
“Seek out communities of new mothers,” said Dr. Wen. “There are a lot of great virtual communities of moms who are in the same boat and want to help each other out.”
5. Make yourself a priority, too.
“Take time for yourself,” advised Dr. Wen. “You need to take care of yourself so that you can care for your newborn and others in your family. Do something for yourself every day. It could be just a few minutes to practice mindfulness or getting a good book to read while your little naps. Remember that mental health is just as important as physical health.”