Being home with a newborn is a new world in typical situations, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now a WHOLE NEW WORLD.
Before COVID-19 there were some pretty standard “rules” of supporting new parents. Rules like, wash your hands, don’t kiss the baby’s mouth, and don’t make the new family host when you are there.
There is so much grief because of the changes to many labor and delivery wards. Limited support person in the delivery room, shorter healing time in the hospital, and less support once a family gets home means the rules have certainly changed for the weeks and months that follow as well.
One of the main rules for supporting a new family is to stay home! And it is so hard, and heartbreaking! The rules are now NOT to go and see a new baby, NOT to go and hug and love on parents, and NOT to be a tangible helper when so much healing still is yet to happen.
The immune systems of both the laboring parent and the new baby are compromised after birth. And no one can say when it will be safe to gather in groups like we used to.
So what support can you offer new parents during COVID-19?
Food = Support
Gift cards, porch meal deliveries, doing any shopping for the family, or order delivery! These are all great ways of taking stress off their plate to think of what to make or leave the house to get it.
Words = Support
Sending care packages, encouraging cards, texts, and phone calls are all ways to offer encouragement since you can’t be there face to face. The hours and days of new parents are both sluggish and speedy, so staying in touch can be a huge boost.
Taking Over Tasks = Support
You may not be able to, but if you can, why not offer to walk the dog, have their car detailed, or mow their lawn (or find a service that you can be the financial backer for.) Being aware of all the “other” things that take up their time and energy can be a way to show you are thinking about them.
Other Ways to Support
Video Calls – We were getting used to video calls and FaceTime before the pandemic, but now you’ll be a pro! You can connect with zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and even Facebook messenger. Pick one, for 5 minutes or 50. And once you get on a call, you can show even more support by asking some meaningful questions and then listening. Let these new parents talk about what they are experiencing and feeling. A well placed, “Tell me what yesterday was like for you?” or “How is your body feeling today?” could mean the world.
Surprise door decor – Come by and sneak attack decorate their door, or porch, or if you know they’d be into it – their front yard. Knowing you were close, can sometimes be enough!
Plan a meeting through a window – sometimes close but apart is better than no meeting at all. If you can visit by popping outside a window or sitting a chair on the porch for some quality time, why not?
One of the hardest parts of this is feeling alone and isolated. All of these suggestions could be welcome to the people in your life who are going through one huge change after another. And one last thing, on those notes, delivery instructions, and packages – be sure to tell them they are doing an incredible job because they are!