Being a new mother would be lonely anyway, even without a pandemic. That’s what Giannina White tells herself.
But White, 33, knows she’s more isolated than she expected. The first-time mother gave birth on March 16 — the first day her hospital stopped allowing visitors. She didn’t have to wear a mask, but she was asked screening questions before being allowed in to deliver.
She had bought tiny suits for her son, Leo, to wear and and made reservations for family brunches. A newborn photo shoot she had booked was canceled. On Mother’s Day, White introduced her family to her son, after asking that they not see anyone else for the weeks before.
“It’s been really hard, because nobody’s been able to come relieve me other than my husband,” White said. “Nobody’s been able to come over, so it’s been really lonely.”
For mothers of newborns during quarantine, regular challenges, emotional ups-and-downs and postpartum depression feel amplified.
Susan Shelton, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the Florida State University College of Nursing, said isolation for mothers during quarantine means less social support, which could strain their mental health. Shelton is also on the board for Postpartum Support International.
Up to 1 in 5 mothers will struggle with some form of postpartum mental health issues during their childbearing years, Shelton said.
“Some moms are having to resolve the fact that what you had in your mind is not what you’re living in reality,” she said.
Some have to not only manage their newborn, but older children as well. Emily Sutch, 29, had banked on her 2-year-old daughter being at daycare while she was on maternity leave with her newborn son, who was born on March 12.
That daughter, Layla, also wasn’t able to meet her brother for days after his birth — children weren’t allowed to visit the hospital because of coronavirus precautions.
Daycare was canceled, and now Sutch splits her time tending to both children. Sutch said she hopes daycares open up before her maternity leave ends in August, but she can’t be sure that they will.