After giving birth, life completely changes for women – they have a newborn baby to look after, there is a general lack of sleep, a lot of physical healing to do and emotional turbulence all-round.
Which is why support is critical during the confinement period and after, especially during a pandemic when many women have already experienced heightened anxiety and fear. It is not for nothing that they say it takes a village to raise a child.
For new mum Nisha Thadani, what this translated to was her mother uprooting from Ipoh to help look after her and her baby, something she credits with keeping her sane during the post-partum period, although she says going out and meeting people would also make a lot of difference to her mental health.
“I am so grateful to still have my mother with me – she has been amazing! But I would also love to have my best friends come over and see me and the baby, but of course that is not possible.
“And that’s the part that can be quite difficult during this pandemic. I mean, you’re cooped up at home with a new baby and you have all these emotions – your body has changed, you have changed, your life has changed, but you can’t meet people to talk about it nor can people meet you.
“You can’t even go out for a walk or to have a break. Like yesterday, I just needed a breather so I went and sat in my car for 10 minutes, because that was literally all I could do,” says Nisha.
Nor Hasnida Nor Sukri who recently gave birth to her second child totally understands the importance of family being around post-delivery. Although her husband has been a pillar of support, she is heartbroken that unlike her first confinement experience, she won’t be able to go back to her in-laws’ home in Kedah to be pampered post-partum.
“My family is in Johor and my in-laws’ in Kedah – they are all so far away, so I don’t know when they can see me and the baby, which is so sad and disappointing,” she says, breaking down in tears over the phone.
Bracing herself for this eventuality, Hasnida decided to serve out the confinement period in her own home, with the aid of a confinement lady. But even this gives her cause for concern.
“I’m worried about the confinement lady – is she safe and free from Covid-19? Because I will have the safety of my newborn baby to think about also then,” she says.
The health and safety of their newborns is often paramount in the minds of new mothers, especially as newborns don’t have established immune systems yet. Which is why all the usual aspects of new motherhood – from having a confinement lady to hiring a masseuse have all become potential safety hazards.
Shireen Leandra Sikayun for example, had a massage therapist come in to give her post-natal massages in January this year, but even though the therapist wore a mask, she spent most of the sessions wondering where the therapist had been and who she might have been exposed to.
“I was constantly worried especially for the safety of my baby, but in the end, I had to just tutup mata and hope that she was being responsible,” she says.
Even with the anxiety, all these mothers agree that they wouldn’t trade the experience of being pregnant with their precious babies for anything in the world – the pandemic notwithstanding.
“I think women are stronger than we think. When I have hard days, I look at my little baby and everything else just fades away,” says Nisha.
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