Mom opens up about her postnatal depression during lockdown and shares stunning make-over photos

“It definitely wasn’t a mentally easy time.”

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Image: Migneon Marais

When the opportunity for a pamper session and make-over came up, Cape Town mom of two, Hanlie van der Spuy didn’t have to think twice about it. She gave birth in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown (10 July 2020) while she also had a toddler at home.

Hanlie faced many challenges, changes, fears and uncertainties with her second pregnancy, and the pamper session she had planned before she gave birth went up in smoke when South Africa went into lockdown.

“I had planned to take a day, two or so months before my due date to spoil myself from head-to-toe, but then lockdown happened, and with that, dreams of haircuts, pedicures and massages disappeared,” she says.

Being pregnant during a pandemic

“With our eldest my husband attended every doctor’s visit and scan and could be a part of every step of my pregnancy. When lockdown started, I was 5 months pregnant already so thankfully he could experience some of the scans, especially the “big” anatomy scan at 21 weeks. But from the end of March onwards I had to go to my doctor’s appointments alone,” Hanlie says.

She says they were also very nervous about the birth. “What will the pressure on the health system be? Will we be exposed to the virus during my hospital stay? Will dad be able to be there for the delivery?”

Luckily Hanlie gave birth just before the peak of infections in the Western Cape. “Since my caesarean was scheduled, we could have our COVID testing done beforehand to ensure that dad could attend the birth and I didn’t have to be put into a special isolated COVID-room. My husband could be at my side for the whole first day but only for an hour on the second and third days. And although they tried to discharge mom’s a day earlier because of this, my body didn’t react well to the procedure and medicine so I had to stay all three nights. The support of my husband, friends and family would have been greatly beneficial during this time,” Hanlie says.

ALSO SEE: Here’s the latest COVID-19 protocols to follow when giving birth

Coping with a newborn and toddler during lockdown

“My biggest hurdle I had to overcome with a newborn was not having my mother with me this time around. They live in Potchefstroom and she couldn’t come to help in Cape Town. I think if this was my first baby, I might have taken it even harder. I have, however, been blessed with a very supportive and hands-on husband.

He took leave the first week after our son’s birth and still worked from home until our baby was three-weeks-old which was a big help and relief. Even though we’re new to our neighbourhood, members from our church blessed us with dinner for at least a week and a half which was invaluable!” Hanlie says.

Hanlie and family

Hanlie with her husband Johannes and their two sons Alden (3) and Joa (3 months)
Image: Nerize Raath Photography

Recognise the signs of postnatal depression

Hanlie says coping with a toddler and newborn wasn’t as hard physically because she was used to getting up at night and being busy during the day, but mentally it took a toll. “Subconsciously, whether it’s your first or second child, you try to continue life as it was before, which can be helpful to some degree and to get you going, but when the expectation and reality doesn’t match, it gets tough. Also, to attend to the needs of both of these young lives as they also adjust to this newness [lockdown] is overwhelming. Not being able to have someone over, or go out to chat to a friend or just visit the shops or break routine was taxing. After I neglected signs of Postnatal Depression (PPD) with my firstborn, I promised to be vigilant this time around.

So, when I started having intense down times with some negative and possibly physically hurtful thoughts, I contacted my Obstetrician to send me a prescription for medicine to take. I had to stop taking the meds after a week because I had a reaction to it, but thankfully I also started to cope better.”

ALSO SEE: Mental Health Check: Is it baby blues, perinatal depression or postnatal anxiety?

Adjusting to a new life in lockdown

“I missed doing normal and routine things to get through long and monotonous days especially with a toddler that craves time with friends and, especially during level 5, to go out and run around. I also had to adjust to the new neighbourhood and community (although we couldn’t visit) and really missed the familiar things and closeness of familiar friends as we haven’t built up a group of friends close by.

Our lovely neighbour across the road did organise a “baby shower” for me by having friends ship over gifts and having an online group call with everyone with snacks on hand. It was different but so special and something I’m so grateful for. Knowing people cared so much made such a difference.

Virtual baby shower

Hanli’s virtual baby shower during lockdown

Doing special treat activities as a family – going for drives, ordering in (when we were allowed) and tag teaming on rest time got us through as a family and parents. It definitely wasn’t a mentally easy time.

But the thought of a baby, a new life which was on its way created a feeling of hope and better things to come midst the uncertain and disheartening times,” Hanlie says.

What Vier Jou Vrouwees meant to me

Hanlie was the lucky mom to snatch up the last ticket for the #vierjouvrouwees day – a pamper getaway for mom.

“The day didn’t disappoint. The venue was beautiful, there was a talented make-up and hair artist, delicious snacks, my first champagne after pregnancy – and the friendliest hostesses who made me feel so comfortable, special, beautiful and at home! And then, the photos! Not only am I a sucker for a photo shoot, but on top of that, one of my dream photographers was behind the lens,” Hanlie excitedly shares.

Hanli make-over

Image: Migneon Marais

What is #vierjouvrouwees?

Katryn Kruger, international model and entrepreneur, wants to empower women by giving them beautiful photos of themselves, while also raising funds for victims of violence against women and children. The next “Vier jour Vrouwees” photoshoot will take place in 2021. Keep an eye on Katryn’s Instagram profile to see when you can buy tickets.

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