Being a new parent is difficult in the best of times, but when you factor in isolation amid a global pandemic, experts say it affects mental health.
“New parents are facing many challenges right now,” said Sara Beckel, Perinatal Health Coordinator for the Regina Perinatal Health Network.
“New parents just don’t get the support of other parents and that ‘me too’ part of parenting when they’re all up at 2:00 am and feeding all these babies. That solidarity with the parents is missing.”
Beckel offers social support to new and expectant parents who she said are highly isolated.
A recent study on Frontiers in Global Women’s Health shows that 29 percent of young mothers had symptoms of anxiety and 15 percent had symptoms of depression before the pandemic.
However, during the pandemic, those numbers nearly tripled. 72 percent of young mothers reported symptoms of anxiety and 41 percent reported depression.
“It’s a number that should be alarming,” Beckel said.
“We know that untreated mental health complications have a direct impact on early childhood development. We are trying to fill this gap and raise awareness about it.”
When new mom, Cynthia Sanders, found out last August that she was pregnant with her son Malcolm, she was thrilled.
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“We had tried for so long and I had a vision of how I would spend my mat vacation and what I would do. I had visions of travel and brunch from mothers, ”said Sanders.
Fast forward a few months later and Sanders would encounter obstacles she had never imagined.
Not only was little Malcolm born 11 weeks premature, but a global pandemic would force the new mother into isolation.
“It’s lonely and it’s hard and as a young mom everyone says it’s hard but this is just an extra shift,” said Sanders.
Sanders is also listed as high risk from having a kidney transplant, and she said it was just too risky to go anywhere.
“I worry if something happens to me that I couldn’t take care of (Malcolm),” Sanders said.
“I think there is a little bit of fear you know more worried when I bring something home or when my husband brings something home.”
Beckel said group groups online and taking lots of photos can help bring a sense of normalcy into everyday life.
“Take lots of pictures, dress up and do the things you normally would, and find a way to do it in creative new ways because that’s what you want later,” Beckel said.
“Make the connections as best you can, and especially if you think things are very difficult and don’t make sense, keep a journal in a journal. It’s always good to keep a journal.”
Although Sanders said she has a lot of pictures, it is help that she misses most and the Malcolm family has yet to meet.
“When they say it takes a village to raise a child, it’s true and we did and he’s still here, but I think that’s something for the parents that we missed out on,” Sanders said .
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