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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Mental Health for Moms and Babies in the Pandemic

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Covid has increased anxiety, depression and stress

For those of us who are moms, most of us can probably attest that being a mom is both the most wonderful and, at times, the most difficult thing we have ever done. Between washing clothes, playing with little ones and picking up toys, most moms don’t have much time to sit down, let alone have the space to check in on their mental health. However, parenting in a pandemic is an unprecedented task whether you are becoming a first-time mom or currently raising multiples.

It’s not anything we were prepared to do, and it has affected us more than we could have imagined.

Living and parenting in the pandemic have been traumatizing for many of us. This is due to various factors, including the constantly changing status of health, the economy and our world in general. The loss of connection with our communities is unheard of. We have been more isolated, more stressed and experienced more grief and loss than we could have ever imagined. For many of us, fear has been a significant contributor to the health of our mental state. Because of this trauma, some may have experienced unexpected mental health issues that have led to increased anxiety, depression and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Many of these circumstances have been out of our control. Personally, as a first-time mom delivering a baby while having COVID, I experienced significant birth trauma due to the pandemic. COVID hospital protocols, the fear of keeping my baby well, and limiting family and friends amid a surge was terrifying. Those first few months with a newborn are tough in general, but the added layer of trying to keep a baby well in the middle of a pandemic was overwhelming at times. This experience during the pandemic significantly impacted my mental health during postpartum.

No matter your season of motherhood, being a mother in a pandemic has changed our children and us.

If you stay at home with your children, going out and engaging in social activities is more complex than before.

If you work outside of the home, taking off work and arranging childcare has been a complex task while managing sickness. School closures and quarantine mandates have impacted school-age children and their parents.

The resources that have been available for moms in any season of motherhood have shifted and caused a more taxing mental load for us all. This has led many of us to feel disconnected, lonely and overwhelmed. It sometimes can feel shameful or embarrassing to admit that this season can be a struggle, so we continue to isolate ourselves and hide our struggles with mental health.

However, there’s a reason they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Humans are wired for connection. When we disconnect and hide our struggles, our mental, physical and spiritual health suffer. Instead of hiding it, what if we were honest with ourselves and others around us? How relieving and healing would it be to hear the words “me, too”?

So, what are some ways to reconnect, check in with ourselves and work on our mental health?

Some ideas that come to mind are calling a close friend or family member, joining a group, working on prioritizing self-care or going to counseling. Counseling can be a beneficial tool when experiencing mental health issues. If you find yourself struggling with mental health during this season of motherhood, you do not have to do it alone. At Shreveport Counseling and Restoration Center, our goal is to help you become your best self, and we would love to walk alongside you as you navigate motherhood and parenting in today’s world!

Whitney Voss, M.A., LPC, NCC, CSAT, CCPS-c, licensed professional counselor, national certified counselor, certified sex addiction therapist, certified clinical partner specialist and EMDR provider. Contact her at Shreveport Counseling & Restoration Center, 318- 459-8581, www.shreveportcounselingandrestorationcenter.com.

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