Mothers in isolation - Lockdown 1.0
As a mother to a 6 month old daughter, isolation has brought about a huge mix of emotion, but most of all, it has brought us focus. Before lockdown, I was reluctant to set any sort of routine for my baby, preferring to go with her flow and mine, free to attend baby groups, meet with other mums and head out for a walk whenever I wished, breastfeeding on the go and allowing her to sleep in the pram as she needed. As I look back on it, it was mostly for my own mental health rather than for her.
At 6 months we were ready for weaning which meant getting her up to three meals a day. We also needed to address her sleeping, getting her into a routine, moving her into her own room and working on her ability to self-settle.
Going in to lockdown was scary. The unknowns surrounding the severity of the virus, being worried to just pop to the shop for milk and other essentials, becoming stressed by people not keeping their distance and washing or santitising my hands almost constantly. My daughter also had the exceptional tendency to start coughing in the middle of the supermarket (I kid you not) - mortifying! But the emphasis to remain home and not see family or friends meant I was able to stop and take stock of where we were after a whirlwind year and begin to put my daughter's next steps of development first.
Our weaning journey started with lunch, and moved on to including breakfast and then dinner. Weaning takes a lot of time, you add the introduction of food on top of all the milk feeds, so it sometimes felt like it was a never ending meal time. Not having a social life, meant there was nothing else to fit around, nothing to distract, and no "FOMO" (fear of missing out). I genuinely think that our experience with introducing food and her like for just about everything was because we had that completely dedicated time together.
I had been tracking her sleep and her feeds using an android app called "Baby Tracker" (although they all seem to be called that!) and had a rough idea of what she "should" be doing. In March, just before lockdown, she was napping around 11am/12pm, I was trying to pick up on her cues and adjusted the afternoon depending on how well she'd slept but I didn't worry if this all shifted due to a baby group or meeting up with mums and babies for a walk. We rocked her to sleep each time unless she was in the pram. I was also on a milk timer, ensuring she was fed around the clock accordingly. It was only when we stopped that I finally spent time paying closer attention to typical sleep routines, how to introduce a structure and how to start tackling her ability to self-settle.
The weaning was fairly easy and enjoyable but the sleep training was hard and I am very grateful for the online resources we have access to and the ability to still talk and message friends for advice or to just moan, rant or cry. I am also very grateful to have been able to build solid relationships with other mums before being abruptly dropped into isolation - I know so many other new mamas haven't been so lucky and have even missed the opportunity to take part in antenatal classes, making it even harder to cope without that army of other mums to lift you up, reassure and share in your stress, happiness, or despair.
As I mentioned at the beginning, going out and about to classes and on walks were mostly for my own mental health, sitting at home alone with a new baby can easily send you spiraling into postnatal depression, of which I fear so many brand new mums will be suffering with now. If you feel that is you, please don't hesitate to reach out and find your tribe via other means. There are great apps out there to help you connect with others such as MUSH and Peanut. Try them out. Be brave. Put yourself out there. Message some mums and message some more. These mums could be your lifeline. It can be hard to do, but you need to throw a line out first in order for it to be caught - your baby deserves a happy and strong mummy.
If you have any questions at all or would like to hear about any other experiences we have had during our first months of motherhood and during lockdown then drop me a message below.