COVID-19 pandemic hitting new moms hard, increasing the likelihood of postpartum depression

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 7:04 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Chubby cheeks, giggles, and an innocence that can brighten any day.

Babies can really be a blessing, but raising them definitely takes a village.

In the middle of celebrating the new addition to the family hangs a shadow that could darken celebrations this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is clouding up these moments and making it more difficult for new mothers.

“I think we are all still trying to wade through those waters and find out what to do," said new mother, Allison Cahill.

“During this COVID pandemic, it has definitely caused a lot of stress in families," said Comprehensive Women’s Health’s Dr. Eduardo Marichal.

Mothers are often times forced to make a decision: who can see their baby and who can’t? This decision can often cause rift in families, leaving a mother alone and filled with anxiety.

Cahill, who had Miss Lily Joy in May, has kept her distance.

“I actually stopped working at 32 weeks pregnant because of the anxiety at home," said Cahill. "We were really stressed out about it.”

Cahill even made the difficult decision to not introduce her daughter to her grandmother.

“She hasn’t been able to meet her because of everything, and she [the grandmother] is also dealing with breast cancer herself," explained Cahill. "So her not being able to meet her has been very hard.”

Women are more at risk for experiencing depression or anxiety during pregnancy and after more than any other times in their lives. According to research, 1 in 7 women may develop depression or anxiety during the perinatal period - the period just before and after birth. These numbers do not factor in the pandemic.

A pandemic that has taken away the ‘village.’

“I’m a first time mom, you don’t have those groups that you would go to after and thats definitely hard, so you can feel a bit more isolated. You’re not going near your friends," said Cahill.

Dr. Marichal at Comprehensive Women’s Health says, they have tried to focus more on postpartum health, adding a 2-week postpartum check and making themselves more available to mothers.

“One of the initiatives in the past year, year and a half is try to really look into this postpartum period as a moment where we really have to be paying more attention to our patient," he said.

Mothers need a village too.

“Just making sure you are there as much as you can be just to help out,” said Brett Cahill, Allison’s husband. "It’s rough on new dads as well, but I feel like it’s always tougher on moms. "

“I think part of our mission that you survive the postpartum periods and survive those challenges that are happening and that are worse with the issue of the pandemic," said Marichal.

Comprehensive Women’s Health encourages new mothers to remain in contact with their doctors. They are offering Telehealth appointments with their patients and remain in contact with their patients through the patient portal.

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