“Congratulations on your new baby” is a natural and genuine sentiment but it is also important, perhaps more than ever, to ask RUOK ?”
Welcoming a new baby into the family is usually a time of joy, wonder and excitement. However, for some mothers and fathers it can also be a challenging time.
- 1 in 7 mothers will experience Post Natal Depression (PND) (1)
- 1 in 5 mothers have at least one type of anxiety disorder in pregnancy or postpartum. (2)
- Anxiety or depressive disorders in new fathers at 6 weeks postpartum is around 2%–5% (3)
- Preliminary research in the UK suggests increased rates of mothers screening positive for PND in the first year of the COVID pandemic. (4)
Lockdowns, border closures and restrictions have limited or completely stopped access to family support, friend networks and community programs. Uncertainty about the risks associated with COVID while pregnant or for their newborn, financial uncertainty, closure of childcare centres and home schooling older children add additional stress.
Ways to start the conversation:
- “As delightful as they are, having a newborn can be tough…RUOK”?
- “My first few months of parenthood were a struggle too…RUOK”?
- “You are doing a great job with her/him, but you still seem tired/flat/stressed…RUOK”?
They may not to want to talk at that time that is OK so check in regularly via text or a phone call to see how they are coping and let them know you there for them.
Extra support may be what they need but:
- Asking for help may seem too hard
- They may not want to be a burden on others
- Saying they are struggling may feel like admitting they are failing
- Even trying to think about what they may need may be overwhelming as it is another thing they have to do.
- Cook and deliver if within allowed distance contactless meals
- Shout them a home delivered meal from a local restaurant that also needs support through lockdown
- Send a “care package” a scented candle, luxe hand wash or an indoor plant provide repeat pleasure
- Schedule in a regular walk and catch-up to encouraged them to get out of the house and exercise.
- If you are outside of the COVID allow radius talk via phone while you walk
- Ask their partner to watch the baby for a few hours and set up a virtual night in with a group of friends (when they are feeling stronger they can repay the gesture)
- If they do not have family support, offer to be a COVID restriction exempt care-giving person – their GP can provide a letter of exemption.
If they do open up professional help may be needed. Ask if they already have a professional to talk. If not suggest:
- PANDA’s National Hotline 1300 762 306 panda.org.au
- Their General Practitioner
- Their Maternal & Child Health Nurse