Becoming a māmā changes our bodies, our minds, and everything about how we live our lives. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and it takes time to adjust. Be kind to yourself. 

There’s a lot of pressure to be a “supermum”. Remind yourself that day-to-day parenting is hard for everyone – No matter what ‘perfect lives’ you see on Instagram.

Be kind to yourself:

  • Remind yourself that all your pēpē (baby) needs is you. Even when you’re coping with little sleep and haven’t showered in a while, your baby loves you the most in the world. Sometimes just doing it, is doing it well.
  • Remember – both you and your pēpē are new to each other. Don’t worry if you don’t instantly feel that connection. For some māmā it takes time – you are still an awesome māmā. Like a seed, love can take time grow and blossom. Here are some tips for playing and connecting with your pēpē.
  • Try not to overthink what you ‘should’ be doing to get your baby to sleep better. If baby isn’t sleeping well, remember that it’s just a phase and it will pass. Do what you can to get sleep in your household. For further information see this Ministry of Health site or Sleep Wake site. 
  • You and your partner will be adjusting to a time of change as you get used to your role as parents. It’s a big change, and it can be stressful. It can help to think about ways you can work as a team and maintain your relationship. If you need a bit of extra support, you can talk to friends or whānau who’ve been there, or reach out for support. 
  • Talk to your baby as much as you can. It may not look like it, but they’re learning all the time – 80% of their brain is developing in those first 1000 days.
  • Try not to worry about “doing it wrong”. Find trusted sources of advice and trust your instincts. You’ve got this māmā. 

Don’t go through it alone

  • Don’t be afraid to ask others if you need help – they’ll want to help you. If you are a solo parent, your whānau lives far away, or you’re in level 3 and your partner is an essential worker, you could think about extending your bubble so you have an extra pairs of hands.
  • Share the load with your partner. Put them in charge of things like naps and baths, and leave them to look after the baby while you rest
  • Talking to other māmā about their experiences of going through lockdown can really help. They may have tips and advice for how to cope.

Go back to basics

  • Leave the house for some light exercise or fresh air each day. It may be a bit tricky to get out the house with pēpē, but a change of scene can help you both relax.
  • Try to eat nutritious meals three times a day and drink plenty of water.
  • Limit the time you spend watching the news and take breaks from social media.
  • Don’t put off getting pēpē their 6-week immunisations – it keeps them safe and protected.
  • Try not to let the huge amount of advice add to your anxiety. Trust your instincts māmā, you know what’s best for you and pēpē.
  • Options like mirimiri/massage can be helpful.
  • Over 1 in 10 women have post-natal depression. It says nothing about you as a māmā, but the sooner you get help, the better you’ll feel. Signs to watch out for can include feeling sad most of the time and not enjoying things you used to. If you think you may be depressed, talk to someone you trust like a close friend, your midwife, or get free support.
  • Remind yourself that we are in the middle of a global pandemic and you can only do your best. It’s OK not to feel OK. We’re in this together.

We all know that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’. Right now, we need to get creative in how we look after each other. Māmā needs her village more than ever now.

Dads and partners, this can be a scary time for you too. Be gentle with yourself and take lots of deep breaths. Māmā needs you to be strong, reassuring and calm for her, especially during her pregnancy and those first few months. You need to be her rock.

When pēpē comes, you can help by taking on most of the work around the house. Take on childcare by becoming the “chief nappy changer”. Cuddle, massage and sing to baby to give mum a rest. This will allow more time for your partner to rest and get the sleep she needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you or māmā are not coping. It’s a sign of strength to say you need a hand. Get more information about looking after yourself and how to be a great dad at Great Fathers.

Up to 1 in 10 men experience post-natal depression after their baby is born. If you think you might be depressed, talk to someone you trust or reach out for support.

For whanau - māmā, pēpē and partners still need you. You can do things like regularly checking in with them via texts or video chats. Give practical help by doing their supermarket shops and baby supply shopping, or dropping off kai in a safe way that prevents the spread of COVID-19.

Even though we’re allowed to visit at level 2, māmā and pāpā may be feeling a bit more protective. So ask them if they feel comfortable about visitors, or if there are other things you can do to support them.

If māmā and pēpē are up to it, remember the following tips

  • The most important thing you can do for baby is to look out for māmā. She needs your practical and emotional support. Listen to her, and look out for her.
  • Give māmā a call before you visit to ask if there's anything she needs you to pick up from the shops.
  • Stay for a short time only. This can be a very tiring time for both māmā and pēpē, so keep your visit brief.
  • Don’t be someone she has to “host” – be someone māmā looks forward to coming around because you’ll let her and pēpē spend some precious time together.
  • Do whatever you can to let her rest and care for the baby, and take the burden of doing the chores around the house away from her. Do the dishes, the vacuuming, take the rubbish out – anything that makes her life easier.
  • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.
  • If you are sick, stay home. Wait to visit māmā and pēpē until you are well