As we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, I sense we are all settling into "new normal" as the adjustments made to our lives are becoming more familiar. The feeling of panic may not be as much in the forefront of our minds, but settled into a deeper place. And while panic buying seems to have stopped and some places have even begun to lift or reduce restrictions, things like gatherings and celebrations generally still must be delayed or re-imagined. This includes celebrating a new baby.
As this new way of life becomes more familiar, we must consider what new normal looks like for families who are having babies. Certainly, we can't have a new normal that doesn't celebrate and feel joy for these new lives entering our world!
One of the most prominent triggers for anxiety and stress during this time is social isolation from friends, family, and work, as well as the inability to participate in celebrations that normally occur, like those around adding a baby to a family. Among learning new ways to communicate and keep in touch with loved ones, we can also consider new ways to recognize and celebrate new babies.
In addition to using the well-known technologies for video calls, below are four other, meaningful ways to welcome a new baby.
Lighting a candle can symbolize lighting the way for your journey into parenthood. Ask loved ones to light a candle whenever they are thinking of you and wanting to send you love and strength. This could be in pregnancy, labour, or in the first 40 days after your baby is born.
Ask your loved ones to write a letter or note with words of encouragement for you and/or your baby. These letters could include affirmations for birth or a letter of love and support during pregnancy, birth, or parenthood. A physical letter in hand provides you with a gift to keep and return to anytime you need encouragement.
A mandala or similar kind of artwork would be a great way to recognize your pregnancy/birth/new baby. Mandalas are complex artworks that combine geometric patterns and symbols within a circle. They can be three dimensional (for example, using found objects or items from nature) or two dimensional, as in a painting or colouring page. The process of colouring in a mandala can further benefit by acting as a mindfulness or meditation exercise.
This is a gift you can do on your own or involve other members of your support circle. If you would like to include others, consider sending out mandala colouring sheets and ask the recipients to focus on sending love and strength for your journey ahead as they colour them in. Completed mandalas can then be sent back for you to decorate your birthing space, providing helpful focal points and reminders of love and strength from loved ones.
Creating a craft or sewing project with loved ones (yes, even while social distancing!) can be a wonderfully connecting experience. One idea is to knit or sew an item that will be placed in your birthing space. For example, birth flags from loved ones can be strung together and hung in your birthing space to provide a focus for labour and remind you of the love and strength from loved ones. Similarly, creating a combined-effort baby blanket is another way to connect, and one in which you end up with a treasured keepsake. Decide on a project, then invite loved ones to participate. The creating of pieces can be done individually then sent back to you (or someone else who is in charge of the project) to combine and complete.
What are some different ways you are celebrating and honoring your pregnancy, birth, and new baby during the pandemic?
About Kate Drew
Kate Drew, LCCE, RN & RM, is Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator committed to working with families to support them in transitioning a new baby into their family. With over 20 years of experience working in antenatal education, providing birthing services and postnatal support. Kate established Collective Wisdom in Newcastle NSW Australia with the idea of giving new families the support she would have liked herself. Combining knowledge from the many people who have come before her, together with her vast experience, Kate provides invaluable support during pregnancy, birthing and the first twelve months postnatally. She has provided online postnatal support for families all over the world for many years. Kate can be contacted through her website collectivewisdom.com.au