Dubai: Dealing with postpartum blues is one of the most difficult and unexpected things. The birth of a baby can trigger many emotions. Usually people think it’s all joy and excitement when having a new baby, but in reality, it’s pretty anxiety inducing, exhausting and sometimes depressing.
Most new moms experience postpartum "baby blues" after they’ve given birth. Baby blues include anxiety, mood swings, crying, and these are all made worse with the difficulty sleeping. Now add a global pandemic into the mix.
Gulf News spoke to different mums in the UAE about their experience with their babies
Dr Zain Ladha, a Naturopathic Doctor and a mother of two, explains to Gulf News that mothers should really be going easy on themselves, especially now more than ever. “I came across a post written by a naturopathic doctor colleague of mine which was immensely useful - it reviewed Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ which tells us that we must fulfill the bottom two tiers of the pyramid before being able to achieve the next three tiers of our human needs.
Given the current state of global affairs, I think it is fair to say that most of us are currently focused on the bottom two tiers of our needs, which are our basic necessities, including food, warmth, water, rest, security and safety. It is unreasonable and unfair to compare ourselves to expectations of productivity and success that were present before the quarantine, when needs beyond the basics were fulfilled. So, in an effort to find a sense of peace.”
She herself has been feeling the real struggle of self-isolation, “we went from structured school routines and familiar stress relief outlets to a relentless self-isolation schedule with very few opportunities to take mental breaks, I am finding myself struggling to come to terms with what has become our society’s new normal. With an active three year old son and an eight month old baby girl, I am constantly finding myself burning tires to balance the need for productive, educational and stimulating time for both kids vs. letting the older one sit in front of a screen so that I can put the little one to sleep or get a few moments to breathe. Some days are better than others when our oldest is engaged in activities, has an awesome level of energy and we get through the day with happiness, stability and a sense of peace.
There are other days which are tough when both kids are waking up every hour at night, my attempt at daily educational time fails miserably, no one wants to eat the food that was cooked from scratch with love and all of us are in tears.
Farah Q. mum to a new born boy
I delivered my baby on March 12, we were allowed only 2 visitors at a time for certain hours in the day along with a companion that was allowed to stay overnight. As difficult as that was, given both sides of our families weren’t allowed in the hospital at the same time, it was a chance for me to bond with my new baby boy.
Going back home wasn’t any easier, us and our families are dedicated to staying home as directed by our leadership, no visitors were allowed over. Again, it felt like something was missing but we knew it was for our own safety and the safety of those we love.
Every time I had to go to a follow up doctor’s appointment, I would have a million worrying thoughts running through my head. My baby is a month and half old, and my brother and sister are yet to physically meet him.
However, thank god for technology which is allowing us to stay connected despite social distancing.
Farah H. mum of two
“When my baby girl was born very prematurely in October 2019, we were extra cautious during her stay in the NICU to ensure we were following all hygienic measures to avoid any potential infections. We were really looking forward to take her out for walks in the beautiful UAE Spring weather as she got older.
Little did we know that our hygiene-obsession would extend for months to come due to the COVID-19 outbreak. One of our main concerns at present is getting to the clinic for her monthly check-ups to ensure she is on the right track. Fortunately, we are in contact with her pediatrician and we are reassured that she is doing just fine. The quarantine has given my elder daughter, my husband and I the chance to spend quality time with the baby, rather than rush to work and school. We have made a conscious effort to keep positive through the past few months. What has also helped is to talk to other friends who are currently going through the same thing.
Though her grandparents who live close-by are yet to hold and cuddle my baby, we are keeping them happily entertained with photos and Zoom chats.
During this time, I keep thinking of all the parents who have babies in the NICU. All I can say to them is to keep strong and trust that their babies are in safe hands. The super-hero NICU doctors and nurses are no doubt doing their best to keep their little babies safe and well.”
Abeer, mum of three
“With a four month old baby, two boys doing online learning, while I am working full time from home and completing a doctorate in business, the roles I have had to juggle while also trying to achieve a balance has been challenging to say the least. I think the hardest part is dealing with the guilt that you are not able to give a 100 per cent to everything. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in a day to be the perfect mom, the impeccable hard working employee and the studious student.
That being said, this pandemic has certainly given us the opportunity to somehow slow down and focus on what matters most in life...family. I no longer feel the pressure to rush through play time with the kids or story telling at bedtime. I am trying to enjoy every single minute with my children and husband and take this time to appreciate the life we have been blessed with.
Emam, mum of three
First I have to put a disclaimer in - it was my third child birth. I imagine that this would be written a little differently (with a lot more anxiety) if it was my first child. When Dubai took the decision to go into full lockdown mode, I was about 10 days away from my due date. I felt worried and anxious as I had heard so many stories of hardship and a worrying possibility that my husband wouldn’t be allowed into the delivery room with me (as hospitals were restricting entry to patients only).
But watching the news that day, I felt relieved that I made the decision to give birth in Dubai and not in the UK where I had originally planned to go. In fact I cancelled my flight to the UK only a few hours before I was due to take off. That was a month away from my due date. And so much happened in that one month. The situation in the UK got so much worse, the airport in Dubai closed, and I was now in self-isolation mode. In my home, self-isolation also involved me home schooling two kids - one in year 1 and the other in year 3. This has come with its own challenges. If it weren’t for a very supportive husband, I probably would have lost my mind very early on.
My actual birthing experience was as comforting as it could have possibly been in the times of a pandemic. Simply put, I was ever so grateful and happy that I was in Dubai. The hospital experience showed me a level of professionalism and seriousness that I had not previously seen - it showed me that Dubai was taking all the necessary steps and precautions to fight the virus and even go one step further.
It certainly has been an emotional rollercoaster - but one thing is for sure, family always comes first and the rest follows. I can’t help but wonder if I did push through with my travel plans to the UK, how long I would have been separated from my other two kids.
Going through this experience with my family has not only brought us closer together, but it brought a new level of excitement when baby number 3 finally arrived. It has also been a blessing to have to stay at home after the birth - and not have any of the usual daily stresses to deal with. Instead, we are taking this time to learn to live as a family of five and to learn to love one more time.
Zeina: I am pregnant now
"I am a first time mother-to be so I am not really experienced and was looking forward to the family support that I would be getting, however with the pandemic, there could be none, I decided to accept things as they are and make the most out of the situation by reading more and seeking advice from experienced mothers around me. I had plans of delivering abroad but I got a sign from the universe, quite literally, so that has obviously changed now.
I’m usually someone who enjoys staying at home and having me-time so that has been the silver lining of this whole situation. One main thing I learned is how to slow down take the time to do many different things that I did not have time before like organizing and decluttering the house, reading books (now mainly on pre and post-natal topics) , doing online courses and catching up on series. I am also taking advantage of the time at home and trying out new recipes. I try to join online prenatal classes and try to stay connected with family and friends on online platforms in order to stay sane. Bottom line, I am blessed to be in the UAE as everything is always under control."
Mothers need to remind themselves to be gentle and celebrate the small steps and efforts that they make rather than ruminate on the less than desirable outcomes of the day. Through this, we can attempt to practice self-love and find a balance that works for me and my family in this new normal.