Support from Afar
BY LAURA MAXSON, LM
Parents are facing a postpartum experience quite different from what they may have planned. Family and friends aren’t dropping by. Nobody is getting on a plane to visit anyone in the near future. Families still need support, and friends and family can still help in new and different ways.
Dealing with COVID 19 means adding extra safety steps. Wash hands and wear a mask during meal preparations, while shopping or making drop offs. Keep your distance with porch drops, disinfect, and keep up with safety recommendations.
Some families prefer just one person to come into the home to help. This may be a family member or friend for some families, or a paid postpartum doula for others. Friends and family who would normally pop in to help out, might instead want to contribute to a doula fund.
Diaper service is a great gift – a weekly diaper service bringing (and taking away compostable diapers might be just the thing to help keep parents home. No runs to Costco or Safeway for diapers, and most diaper services can also provide wipes.
Give the gift of clean laundry. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to simply pick up a hamper of dirty laundry from the front porch and return it clean and folded. Another variation involves more communication with a local friend/neighbor about the status of the laundry. A quick text and a friend can drop by the garage laundry room to put laundry into the washer, transfer it to the dryer or just work on folding the mountain of clothing babies go through each day. This means lots of timely communication – texting back and forth – to coordinate what needs to be done and when, but might be just right for a neighbor.
When doing personal shopping, pick up some staples to drop off to the new family. Instead of asking, “let me know if you need anything,” send a text that says “I’m at the store, what can I pick up for you?” Leave the groceries on the doorstep with a call or text to alert them that it’s there, include their receipt so payment can be sent via venmo or paypal. Follow up that they didn’t get distracted and forget the groceries on the porch.
Meals can still be delivered – just minus the baby snuggle. Coordinate the meal train for porch drops. Restaurant meals are nice, too. DoorDash and Grubhub are handy, especially for those out of town, but local restaurants benefit most from consumer pickups, instead of delivery services.
Window visits can provide safe baby viewing without sharing germs. Grandparents, aunties and best friends who need a new baby fix can stop by with a gift (wrapped and left to sit for a few days before giving) and watch it be received through the window.
Zoom and Facetime are no replacement for in person visits – but are way better than nothing. Of course, there is really no way to schedule a convenient time to chat with a new baby around. Be prepared to sit and wait while baby is tended to, just as would happen with an in-person visit.
Give your friend a midnight pass – permission to call in the middle of the night for support. Find out how someone wants to be contacted. Is texting best? Schedule a facetime in advance? Call anytime? Everyone’s a little different in how they want to be contacted and it may change over time – but be sure to keep checking in.
It can be hard to keep up with the changing community resources while dealing with the distraction of a new baby. There are many live, online classes and meetings for new families now. Virtual meetings mean accessing support for breastfeeding, yoga and more, without wrestling a car seat. Lamaze has free infant massage and breastfeeding videos up during the stay-at-home order. Look up what’s available and share information with new parents.
There is always a lot to feel in the postpartum period. Families (and friends) are facing real losses in what is usually a time filled with visits and support. It is okay to grieve these losses while at the same time falling in love with the baby.
Birthnet.org for local resources/classes
Virtual Meet the Doulas for postpartum and birth doula information
Free breastfeeding and infant massage video Lamaze.org/Giving-Birth-with-Confidence/GBWC-Post/TitleLink/Free-Resources-Breastfeeding-and-Infant-Massage-Videos-from-BabyBabyOhBaby
Postpartum distress SpeakupSantaCruz.org