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Let’s be honest. Stress is normal for new moms.
Being a new mom isn’t always fun. In fact, new mom stress is a unique and indescribable kind of exhausting.
Overwhelmed new moms have difficulty sleeping and making decisions while undertaking routine daily activities. They find it harder to read Baby’s cues, in turn making Baby even more fussy which makes Mom more stressed. So goes the vicious cycle.
Stress is a physiological and emotional adjustment to change. Stress occurs when an event triggers our body’s flight or fight response causing elevated blood pressure, quickened breathing, and muscle tension. Stress can be caused by an inflated credit card bill or a life-changing event, such as having a baby.
If we don’t find a way to control or release the tension caused, stress can take a physiological and even physical toll on us. Stress has been linked to health problems ranging from insomnia and headaches to weight gain and cardiac diseases. While it may not be realistic to completely eliminate stress in your life, you can definitely minimize it.
Here are the most effective strategies we’ve found to conquer that new mom stress!
#1. Contain the chaos.
Newborns need constant care and can leave even the most put together woman frazzled. Women who are obsessively organized (especially those used to rigid schedules) are most at risk for flipping out over chaos. The secret is simplifying.
New moms need to evaluate what routines help them feel in control and which ones are draining. Changing may mean cutting your long hair short so you don’t have to worry about taking care of it, or cooking double portions so you can freeze leftovers and not have to bother with cooking for a day or two.
New moms are also overloaded with baby stuff that is unnecessary, especially in the first few weeks. Re-gift what you don’t need and store away what you won’t need until Baby’s older.
#2. Practice relaxation.
As simple as deep breathing sounds, it is vital for stress relief. There are many things that happen during the week (or more!) after you bring baby home that can bring a new mom stress.
Deep breathing helps your heart rate and blood pressure to drop. Deep breathing reminds you that you can remain in control.
#3. Take a break.
Carve 20 minutes out of your day for yourself. Allow yourself to be tranquil for these 20 minutes. There are many ways to elicit the relaxation response: meditation, yoga, prayer, visual imagery, etc. Ask someone else to watch the baby for just 20 minutes at least and settle down in a quiet room with no distractions.
#4. Care for yourself.
It’s been five weeks since your baby was born and you’ve been devoting yourself to them around the clock. It’s tempting to forget about yourself and give your all to the family, but remember, if you deny your own needs you and your family will suffer.Your baby will be just fine if someone else takes care of them for as little as an hour or two. Give yourself permission to be alone and take care of yourself.
Pump some breast milk, grab your cellphone and meander, go for a massage or pedicure, or listen to some music. The possibilities are endless. If you can’t get away, lock your bathroom door and take a hot, steamy, very long shower or watch a movie cuddled up with your husband (which you can do while Baby’s sleeping!).
#5. Rescue your relationship.
The birth of a baby can be very hard on relationships. Ever heard of displaced dad syndrome? Fathers feel bumped out of the top spot and are confused about their role postpartum. New moms, on the other hand, feel angered towards their better half for not helping as much as they would like.
New parents don’t necessarily have to fall in this pattern. The problem here is simply a gap in communication. Fathers are generally well-meaning and just need a little nudge and encouragement. In this way, challenges can be faced as a team instead of separately by an overwhelmed mom and a confused, underappreciated dad.
By week three, new moms will begin to feel brain dead and claustrophobic. You will feel tied down and unable to go anywhere which can make you go crazy.
If you had a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to do some mild exercise by now. Check with your doctor first, then go for a walk . Take the baby along if they’ve just been fed and are freshly diapered. Walk slowly, notice the buildings, smell the flowers, and think of anything other than the mess in the house. Pay attention to now.
#7. Seek emotional support.
Being able to get together with other moms going through the same issues you are is one of the best ways to ease, and put into perspective, the normal new mom stress.
Moms with strong support systems are at a lower risk for everything from a cold or flu to depression and heart disease.
If you don’t know any other new moms, seek them out.
#8. Restructure your negative thoughts.
Focus on your thoughts. They determine your emotional state and can influence your physical health. Negative thoughts such as “my baby is never going to sleep” and “I’m still fat” are irrational and will make you frustrated and unhappy.
Cognitive restructuring is a great way to get rid of stress. Cognitive restructuring involves analyzing your negative thoughts and turning them into positive ones.
Acknowledge the thought. Is it logical? Where did you get it from? Is it true? Negative thoughts never stand the test of scrutiny.
For example, you try on a pair of pants and they barely get half way up your thighs. Your first thought is to dissolve into tears. “I’m fat and will never be skinny again!” Are you fat? Yes! You just had a baby! You should be! It’s natural! Will you always be fat? No, but demanding that you get skinny too early postpartum is not only more stressful but can jeapordize your health and your breast milk supply.not if you eat well and exercise.
If you really feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, seek the services of a professional counselor. Women sometimes fail to seek support for new mom stress because they think it makes them a horrible mother to feel depressed and stressed about their baby.
Think of this as the help needed to be a more effective parent. “It takes a village,” remember? Human beings were meant to raise children with lots of support from family and friends. If you don’t have that support, ask!
Do you know of some other ways to tackle new mom stress? Please share in the comments section.
First published at www.mom.me.
Featured image source: www.babystrongworkout.com