COVID-19 crisis creating 'perfect storm' for increase in postpartum depression

The stay-at-home order is creating different challenges for new mothers.

This isn’t the maternity leave Samantha Telega had pictured.

“It’s just hard on everybody,” said Telega, who gave birth to her daughter, Teagan, six weeks ago.

Due to the stay-at-home order, there are no visits from friends and family and besides going on walks there isn’t much she can do outside the house.

“It feels like we’re all getting shorted a little bit and it’s hard to not feel frustrated over that and to grieve that time,” said Telega.

Director of the Hennepin Healthcare Mother-Baby Program Dr. Helen Kim says she is hearing from patients who are struggling with the isolation.

“It’s actually, in a way, the perfect storm for increased postpartum depression,” said Dr. Kim.

Bringing a new baby home from the hospital and adjusting to life as parents can already be a lonely and isolating experience. Now, with these added restrictions, Dr. Kim says it is important new parents find support in new ways.

“I think it's an opportunity to reach beyond our networks and check on one another,” she said. 

Kim says lack of support is present with many women who fall into postpartum depression, making this socially distant time all that more concerning.

“It’s a time when mothers long to claim their babies, but also to be claimed by loved ones,” said Kim. “Mothers are looking for nurturance and maternal figures and connection.” 

Kim suggests finding online mom’s groups where parents can discuss their shared experiences. She also suggests staying connected with family through virtual means. 

Telega said she stays healthy by leaning on her husband for support, talking to friends who are also new moms, and connecting with family through video calls as often as possible. 

“I think honestly the biggest support is just talking to other friends,” said Telega. “Just knowing we’re all going through the same thing. Being alone together.”

She also focuses on the positives: a healthy baby, more time at home, and knowing this isn’t permanent. 

“If you’re really feeling stuck in negative thinking. Unable to eat, or focus, or get out of bed or do basic things… it's definitely time of reaching out and letting people know,” said Kim.

If you are struggling, Hennepin Healthcare has a hotline for expectant and new moms, where you can talk to a licensed therapist for no cost at all. The number is (612)873-HOPE or (612)873-4673.