Community care is usually lumped within care for elders and those in the disability community to continue to live independently in their own homes. But families need to be held after they have babies also. Not all families have knowledge carried down from generations on how to care for growing families anymore, it has become harder to care for families with new babies during Covid-19. My sister recently had her second child, and even as a doula, I had to think creatively about how to support her family from afar with things that would actually be helpful.
9 Ways to Provide Community Care For the Childbearing Year While Physically Distanced:
Call, FaceTime, and text to check-in, and let them know you're there for them.
Listen and offer advice when they request it.
If there's an older sibling, consider ways to make them feel special and held. It's good for the whole family to think of ways to engage with older siblings while also prioritizing healing and nursing. If you would like to give a big sibling gift, think of big movement gross-motor activities that can be done inside, like tunnels, tents, balance boards, and blowing bubbles as well and things that encourage bonding and snuggle time like books and a new babydoll.
Bring food if you live close, or find a prepared meals delivery service if you're far (like Pasture and Plenty in Madison! Find foods that are all colors of the rainbow to encourage a nutritious, balanced diet. My sister just gave birth in Philadelphia last week, and I set up a vegan meal delivery subscription for her that accommodated avoiding herbs that aren't suggested for pregnancy and lactation. Love it!
Researching mental health resources. If the family is communicating that they need mental health resources, you can help them with researching options. Sometimes researching options can be overwhelming when you are moving through pregnancy and postpartum with heavy emotions or a mental health crisis. You can support someone you love by finding mental health providers that are covered by their insurance and hold space for them while they make the call to schedule their appointment.
Hands on help. If you are not able to provide hands on help and the family is open to outside support that takes Covid-19 precautions, you can help find people who can provide hands on support like doulas, lactation consultants, and nannies.
Normalize rest. Prolactin is a hormone that usually helps lactating people feel more relaxed about typical household tasks, but sometimes new parents feel the need to keep the old normal activities (cleaning, working, etc...) going as they transition through their family growing. Doing the dishes can absolutely wait while you sit to nurse your baby, and take the time to eat lunch and rest your body.
Be an ally. Help to advocate for them, and be a source of strength when they advocate for themselves or set boundaries. You can also be an ally by researching their rights against pregnancy discrimination, and what their rights are in their state for lactation.
Vote for leaders who will prioritize programs that support and hold people during the childbearing year. Like WIC and Public Health Programing, as well as politicians who prioritize parental leave.