5 tips for beating the stress and anxiety of new motherhood

Pregnancy and labor may have been stressful, but now that you’ve got your bundle of joy in your arms the real stress and anxiety are about to set in. Your baby has needs, and even though you know about feeding and changing diapers, you might not be prepared for difficulties latching on, or figuring out how to make the stupid diaper stay in place. You’ll worry every time your baby cries. Is he hungry or hurt? Is he tired? Does he want attention? Is it better to pick him up or let him cry himself out? And these are just the immediate concerns. Next you’ll start to worry about how every action you take is going to affect him in the long term. Sorry, ladies, but motherhood will bring stresses and anxieties that you never imagined, although it will balance out with joy, love, and wonder. However, you’ll probably want to deal with the stress in the meantime. So here are a few helpful hints on that score.

  1. Read a book. One of the best ways to beat stress and anxiety is have a good handle on what you’re dealing with and understand what’s on the horizon, and there are tons of books out there on the subject of parenthood. While you’re bound to find dissenting opinions concerning everything from stages of development to emotional and psychological parenting practices, you’re sure to hone in on theories and techniques you prefer. You can also read blogs and join forums with other moms and child-rearing experts as a way to keep yourself informed and get advice.
  2. Lean on loved ones. In the beginning you’re going to need a lot of help, so thank your lucky stars if you have a mother and mother-in-law to lean on. Both of these women are no doubt champing at the bit to offer their wisdom and coddle the baby, so let them. Allow them to show you how to diaper, bathe, and feed your infant. Let them rock him while you get some much-needed rest. And accept offers of help from other family and friends, as well. The first few months of motherhood are bound to be the hardest, what with the lack of sleep and the learning curve, so take help with humility and appreciation. And if you have no family or friends on tap, join a new mom group in your area. You aren’t alone!
  3. Professional help. You might be surprised to learn just how many people out there are qualified to help you with concerns. For example, you can hire a nursing specialist to come to your house and give you lessons if you’re having trouble getting the baby to latch on. And of course, you can always call your OB/GYN, midwife, or pediatrician for advice. But if you need additional help dealing with stress, anxiety, or postpartum depression, for example, it’s not a bad idea to seek out a therapist, as well.
  4. Plan and prep. Being prepared can lower stress and anxiety, so hand your baby off to your partner one day a week so you can sterilize and prep bottles (if needed), lay out outfits for the week, and make a meal plan. And once you’ve got your baby on a feeding schedule you should be able to reduce a lot of the stress you feel at the outset.
  5. Take a break. You might think it’s your job as a mom to be on call 24/7, but the truth is that you can’t live that way for long; you need regular breaks (unless you want to suffer a mental break). So schedule in time for yourself, download some soothing music fromĀ meditationmusic.net, and relax in a bubble bath for a bit. Or take an afternoon to have lunch with your girlfriends and shop. You might even get your parents to babysit so you and your partner can have a date. It’s important to devote some time to yourself and your relationship even when your baby takes center stage the majority of the time. These breaks will reduce stress and help you to stay sane, which is good for everyone in your household.

 

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