It’s 3am. You still haven’t eaten dinner, the house is a mess, and you’ve been walking around the room for hours trying to soothe a crying baby. Your arms ache, your head hurts, and you desperately need a shower. You feel anxious, irritable, and close to tears.
It was only a few days ago that you were excitedly awaiting meeting your tiny bundle of joy. But now, faced with a screaming baby and mounting chores, you begin to wonder whether what you’re feeling is normal.
After all, the media is awash with scenes of the stereotypical new mom, smiling serenely as she gazes at her peacefully sleeping baby. It’s no wonder that you find yourself wondering why you feel so stressed.
The reality is that feelings of stress, anxiety and worry are common amongst new moms.
Figures suggest that at least 70% of new moms experience ‘the baby blues’; negative feelings that start a few days after birth, and can last for a few weeks. It is thought to be related to hormonal changes, with symptoms including irritability, unexplained crying, and anxiety.
A longer-lasting, more serious emotional disorder that can occur after birth is Postpartum Depression (PPD), which can include symptoms of extreme sadness, anxiety, and even thoughts of harming yourself or others. The American Psychological Association says that up to 1 in 7 women are affected by PPD.
Being a new mom is a life-changing time of heightened emotions, sleep-deprivation, and – whether we like it or not – stress.
Here at BabyHealthCareTips.net, we’ve put together a list of 5 stress solutions to help you beat your feelings of stress:
1. Love your breaks
One of the biggest causes of stress is trying to deal with more than what we are capable of. Many new moms want to be superwoman, and feel guilty if they can’t juggle caring for a crying baby, cooking, and cleaning – all on three hours of sleep. Not to mention dealing with the physical issues you may be experiencing after childbirth such as post-partum bleeding and healing from an episiotomy or caesarean section.
Sometimes, it’s all just too much. Forcing yourself to carry out more than you are physically able to will cause your stress levels to rise and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a break and accepting help when someone offers.
Start loving your breaks. See your breaks as a way to rest, recuperate and recharge. Once you are refreshed, you will have more energy to care for your baby. You will feel happier, and your baby will too.
2. Write it down
As new moms, we have the tendency to worry about every potential problem our baby may face, and often doubt ourselves.
We make endless lists in our minds about what to ask the paediatrician at our next appointment. Is my baby’s poop normal? Should he be crying so much? How often should I feed him?…
Questions swirl around in our head the whole day, and once the baby is finally asleep, we can’t nod off because our brain is still working overtime.
Our minds can’t ‘switch off’ because they are trying to hold onto all of this information. Clear yourself some mental space by writing down any questions or ‘things to remember’.
This keeps all of your questions together in one place, without you having to worry about forgetting any. It gives your mind time to rest, and frees up your mental resources to deal with daily life without becoming stressed.
3. Get Out of the House
A recent study has shown that exercising in a natural, outdoor environment can have positive effects on the mood, and reduce stress and mental fatigue.
Once your doctor has said you are ready, aim to get a few minutes of outdoor exercise every day.
You don’t have to run a marathon or spend hours on exercise, start off slowly and take a short walk around your area for a few minutes. You will feel the stress and tension melt away, and you’ll return home feeling refreshed.
4. Walk Away
It may be something that is rarely admitted out loud, but the sound of a baby crying can really send stress levels sky-rocketing.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recommends that if you ever feel like your stress levels are rising out of control when your baby is crying, put them down gently in a safe place like a crib and walk away into another room. Give yourself a few minutes to calm down, but check on them if they become quiet.
Leaving your baby to cry in a safe place for a few minutes while you calm down may not be pleasant, but it is safer than holding them when you are feeling overly frustrated.
5. Ask for help
It is important to realize that while feeling some stress is a normal part of being a new mom, feelings of intense stress and worry may be a sign of a medical condition such as Post Partum Anxiety or Post Partum Depression.
If you have feelings of intense worry or sadness that interfere with your daily life, make an appointment and discuss your feelings with your doctor.