'You are not alone': How to manage postnatal depression during lockdown

(kate_sept2004/Getty Images)
(kate_sept2004/Getty Images)

Due to the social restrictions imposed by Covid-19 safety measures, new parents are longer able to rely on the support of family and friends when welcoming their newborns. 

Undeniably, this has only added to the feelings of frustration, fear and isolation commonly felt by parents after the birth of their child, feelings most likely the result of postnatal depression.

"As the body’s hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels, feelings of intense emotion and exhaustion are normal in the days after birth. Many women develop overwhelming feelings of sadness, detachment, irritation and fear after their baby is born," explains obstetrician and Head of the Birthing Team, Dr Howard Manyonga. 

And while postnatal depression is more commonly thought of as a female-only mental health concern, fathers may also experience postnatal depression, says psychologist Gerda Kriel and psychiatrist Anusha Lachman. 

Knowing that these feelings are but a common and normal part of becoming a parent can make all the difference. 

Here Dr Manyonga provides advice on how new parents can managage both their own emotions and the health of their newborn baby during the Covid-19 lockdown.  

Stay up to date with post-birth check ups 

Check-ups with healthcare providers in the days after birth, as well as the six-week mark are key to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well.

New parents are encouraged to speak about their mood and any concerns they have during these visits. 

Maintain communication with family and friends, virtually 

Many parents are finding it difficult to not see loved ones during the lockdown.

Not having your family meet your child face to face can be upsetting, but it is important to remember you are not alone during this period.

Connect with loved ones using digital platforms such as Skype and Zoom. 

Reach out for professional help if necessary 

Talking through difficulties can be a huge help in managing feelings of depression and anxiety after the birth of your child.

If you have a designated psychologist or therapist, ask if you can do telephonic consultations.

Additionally, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers free counselling and 24-hour helplines. 

Try to keep a positive outlook during lockdown 

A change of perspective can help manage feelings of anxiety during this period.

Rather than thinking about how you are stuck inside or stuck at home, consider it as you are keeping your family safe and you are able to spend extended periods of time bonding with your baby.

It is a special time for both parents to be able to fully work together to support one another and their child.  

Find immediate support by visiting: 

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Mental Health Line 011 234 4837

Find a therapist near you on TherapyRoute.com

Compiled for Parent24 by Lesley-Anne Johannes. 

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