Postpartum Care during a Pandemic
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
by Jana Belter
Being a Postpartum Care Provider is a unique job. For most of us, it doesn’t really even feel like a job. It is a calling, a passion, an addiction. Being a part of the process of calling out and championing the instincts of mothers and fathers as they step into their roles, is the most glorious thing ever and once you have been a part of it, there is no turning back.
Usually, on a normal day, in a normal global climate, postpartum care often looks like a few hours spent in the home of a family. It's chats on the bed with Mama while she nurses her little one, it's helping the Dad figure out the juggle of household chores, it's a homemade smoothie to nourish a tired Mom and inspections of nappies, it's assurances that it is all normal and sometimes even a gentle foot massage for either baby or mom to help all systems function optimally. It's being present, it's hands-on and it is all so very important.
Now we suddenly find ourselves faced with the challenge of filling all those gaps while legally not being able to physically be with the new family. Suddenly, postpartum looks like tired moms and dads with a newborn (and maybe even some older kids too) locked up in their homes, in isolation, without the support of the grandparents, sisters, best friends. Families, trying to cope without the professional support and security that they deserve. And we are left at home, painfully aware of the need, painfully aware of the risks of contact and the need for distance. But when something is your passion, your calling and at the very heart of your being —
then you don’t simply stop because circumstances have become tricky. No, you reinvent the wheel, you innovate, you expand and grow and stretch. You figure out how to meet that need, fill that gap, give that support — even from a distance, even over Zoom, or with a few phone calls and videos. You learn how to give better instructions to Dad and you discover that it is in fact possible to check a breastfeeding latch over a video call and ultimately you learn that when you are genuine, a tired Mama can feel supported, championed and empowered even through a video call. You suddenly become the expert at online grocery deliveries, at sensing a need simply through a tone of voice, or a slight quiver in a breath. You become a sanity-check for a Mom who just needs to know that feeling down in the dumps on the third day postpartum is in fact just the hormones from her milk coming in and not the first signs of postpartum depression. You become a lifeline, a sounding board and the one who gives them permission to trust their judgment of whether things are really okay or whether help is needed. You become a networker, connecting tired families with lactation consultants, or physios, or food deliveries.
And maybe, just maybe, this lockdown set-up creates the most precious 4th trimester bubble. And maybe, just maybe, we can call out the parental instincts that have always been a part of who they are, without even entering the bubble physically. And maybe, just maybe, the absence of all support will be a wake up call to the world that postpartum is HARD, and that every mom, dad and older sibling deserves to be nurtured, supported and championed during the transition with a newborn.
Now if only we can figure out how to send a nourishing, warming homemade smoothie through the virtual channels...