Becoming parents during the lockdown: experiences and reflections
The article addresses the topic of parenting during the lockdown and in particular the delicate perinatal period between pregnancy and the "fourth trimester", the phase immediately following childbirth and the birth of the baby.
"It takes a whole village to raise a child"
Becoming parents it is an experience that revolutionizes life forever. Becoming one during a global pandemic is certainly a particular challenge, which on the one hand has brought great obstacles, but also positive and unrepeatable secondary effects. We asked some mothers about share their experience.
One of the greatest difficulties of becoming Parents in this 2020 it was undoubtedly theisolation. "Nobody can come and visit you and help you in this new adventure ", says C., L's mother. Alice, Bianca's mother, also tells us how problematic not being able to count on the help of families is, as is uncertainty or there fear of contagion, as well as the impossibility of making the newborn known to families living far away. For V., L.'s mother, contact with relatives or friends becomes a source of anguish: "I have authorized only grandmothers to contact", sharing how tormented the choice to protect her daughter is while trying to transmit the love of her Dear.
Despite the difficulties, however, there were positives. There feeling of "protection" in maternity wards of hospitals has been widely reported. Viviana, Adriano's mother, says: "It was strange, but it created a situation of extraordinary care, all the pregnant women were isolated from the rest of the world as a health precaution, and the staff were extremely helpful ”.
The suspended time, the recovery of slowness, the forced slowdown and the cloister have allowed many Parents waiting or new parents to experience this new condition in a private and special way. Although a widespread sociality is terribly lacking, A. confesses, in fact, that she is happy not to have had the"Footprint" initial of friends and relatives, giving an intimate dimension of construction of the new balance with the partner, or in any case of re-adaptation to the new normal.
It really seems difficult to imagine the future beyond the immediate: one lives day by day, facing one problem at a time, one joy at a time, one sleepless night at a time. The lack of help from the support network makes it difficult to plan a project that considers, for example, the return to work, especially for mothers, and this can have a profound effect on well-being and the acquisition of a balance. The stress linked to the idea that "[my] actions can damage the health of [my] family" are added to the general climate of economic crisis and uncertainty linked to the evolution of the virus situation.
The experiences shared here portray an "extraordinary normality", in a historical moment where there is very little normal. Sometimes, however, the discomfort can be difficult to bear, understand, becomes an awkward and cumbersome presence: you cannot distinguish the fatigue "normal" of the period with something different, which does not add up. Women affected by postpartum depression they feel "disconnected", they don't feel "themselves", they wonder if there is something wrong with them. Just identifying this malaise can be very painful.
If these words represent you, or if you know a mom who may need them, don't hesitate to seek help. It takes a village to raise a child, and build a support network for the Parents and Infants it can only be good for them, and for us all. In case of need, you can contact the services and professionals present in the reference area to request a psychological support path. It is also possible to contact the team of psychologists and psychotherapists of the Clinical Center PsyPlus on the toll-free number: 800.91.04.89.
If help can make a difference in normal times, it is now urgent to highlight the discomfort and complexities typical of the perinatal period, trying to overcome isolation with innovative and creative treatment proposals.
* Notes on the author: Valeria Giannuzzi is Clinical Psychologist and PhD in Social Sciences with Specialization in Migratory Studies. He is one of the founding members of PsyPlus Onlus, with which he currently collaborates remotely. Founder and director of The Hug Support Group, she currently deals with mental health and parenting support for families in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of Barking, London.
** Some names of interviewees have been altered to protect anonymity.