Updated: June 16, 2021 11:11 PM
Created: June 16, 2021 04:26 PM
New statistics just released from the Minnesota Department of Health show 77,930 babies were born during the pandemic between March of 2020 and May of 2021.
None of those new moms or their spouses had a normal experience. Women who had babies lost out on all the happy events associated with giving birth, like gender reveal parties, baby showers and family coming to the hospital.
Many women who had to go it alone with their spouses are facing unique challenges.
Grace Cirkl and Tina Bell experienced the extreme highs and lows of giving birth during the pandemic. Grace and her husband, Ben, had a son, Roman, in April 2020. Tina and her husband, Spencer, welcomed Levi into their lives in February.
"There were pros and cons to it," Cirkl said. "I would say that the pro is that there's no pressure to make sure you're introducing your newborn baby to anybody because you don't really want anybody around with their germs. But at the same time, you didn't have people coming in and out of your house supporting you in terms of like the day-to-day stuff."
"I had to stay in the hospital for a couple days," Bell said. "One of the times was over New Year's Eve. And because of the pandemic my husband couldn't be there with me. I think another thing that was crazy was wearing a mask while you're in labor. I had to wear a mask while I was laboring, and at one point I just threw it off and was like, 'So I can't. I cannot!'"
Both women reported feeling isolated, anxious and depressed because they couldn't see family and friends and all the celebration was taken away.
"Becoming a new parent in general is really hard, but especially in a pandemic," said Liz Kittleson, a Therapist and Operations Manager with Wild Tree Psychotherapy. "We're seeing a lot right now in terms of anxiety, health anxiety, especially around, 'Will my child be safe? Will I be safe? What if we have COVID? What if someone we know has COVID?'"
Kittleson wants new moms to understand they don't have to be superheroes all the time and to keep things to themselves.
"I think that's paying attention to yourself and noticing what feels OK and what doesn't feel OK," Kittleson said. "And we don't want it to get to the point where it's really significant and really severe.
"Get access to support early on. If we're recognizing, 'I'm feeling particularly sad every day, or I'm not feeling attached to my baby, or things are really hard and I'm angry a lot, or I'm feeling really anxious and I'm having really scary thoughts.' If that continues and it feels uncomfortable for you, that's a really great time to reach out for support."
According to Kittleson, 15-20% of new moms experience depression or anxiety in the postpartum period, which is why it's important to talk to your spouse, doctor or a therapist.
Kittleson knows from personal experience. She and her husband, Corey, had a baby girl in January. To meet her daughter, Eleanor, and to learn about the unique bond Kittleson, Bell, Cirkl and other new moms have, watch the story from Nightcast above.
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