A few years ago, as a doula and health educator, I shared I always say 10 things to pregnant people. While these words may seem true, the last year has been a time of profound change. We are in a new landscape, and the experience of pregnancy and postpartum is different than before. To do this, here are five additional tips for new parents to help you on your way …
1. Move your body the way you like.
Connecting with your body during and after pregnancy is very helpful for your mood and well-being. Encourage yourself to keep your practice small and sustainable so you can hold on to it, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. Be it neighborhood walks or training classes, choose the one that suits you. (One of the positives of going digital this year is the wealth of wonderful physical exercise options, from Pilates to HIIT, that are now available online.)
2. Communicate with your baby.
Some people think that talking to your baby during pregnancy is stupid, but from a research perspective we know that babies in the womb can hear the outside world and be able to respond. If you’re having a stressful day, I love a practice of creating a habit of telling your baby, ‘This isn’t your business. I’m having a hard day – but I’ll do everything I can to protect you. ‘ Also, be aware that when your baby is here, the connection may not be immediate. The idea that everyone is immediately in love and connected to the baby is a fallacy for many people. It’s okay if you don’t feel that right away.
3. Optimize telemedicine.
During the pandemic, health care providers had to innovate, giving a boost to telemedicine. Of course, you will have to go to some pre-appointments, but receiving more visits from the doctor and midwife from home allows you to prepare and gather. Save a block of all your questions in writing, or keep the notes app open on your computer or phone. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring anything, because you’re already at home!
Mental health services have also become an online tool. Over the years, I have worked with parents who need anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants before, during, and after pregnancy. If you are, you want to know that you are not alone, and to be able to make an entrepreneurial plan to care for and maintain your mental health.
4. Find a friend.
Right now, many of us have communication fatigue. Don’t put stress on yourself to find a social circle of pregnant friends – just try to find a person in a place like yours, if possible. (If you don’t know anyone, the app Peanuts has a way of interacting with others who are pregnant. Remember that your friend doesn’t have to be in the same city, state, or country as yours.) Then look for ways to communicate that work to you. Writing is also great. It can be very helpful to ask someone “What do you live for?”
5. Be creative in contacting loved ones.
If your loved ones aren’t nearby and can’t gather to take regular babies, a lot of people look to Zoom. Instead of having almost everyone stacked up, you might also think about setting up a sudden FaceTime with your loved ones to connect more deeply with them. Another thing I encourage people to do is ask your loved ones to write a letter. It can be very nice to have something physical to hold on to. I also love the idea of creating a virtual playlist where you invite everyone to come up with a song. Then, when you are postpartum, you can think of the people who heard and created it.
This year, a silver dot is that we have made more space in our culture to talk about feelings, mental health, anxiety, and depression. We can also talk about the race in a way we couldn’t before. Showing ourselves to the most challenging parts of our lives and acknowledging that everyone is going through hard times is a step in the right direction. Our culture is beginning to recognize that we are not in a technocoloral reality. Wherever you are, please be gentle with yourself and know that what you are feeling is okay. I send you so much love.
He is one of the founders and CEO of Erica Chidi ROOF, a platform that empowers women through sexual and reproductive health education. She is also a doula, health educator and author Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Early Maternity.