4 Common Stresses and Tips to Relieve Them
In a recent Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny blog, you read about making a real connection with your baby. Especially when you’re thinking happy, positive thoughts, your baby picks up on that vibe. Research has shown that you and your baby are sharing a common wavelength and a super strong neural connection is created between the two of you. But before you get to that point, you may have a host of not so happy and positive thoughts. While adding a baby to your family is one of life’s most treasured experiences, it can come with a high level of stress, too. There’s so much to know to care for your baby, to keep her healthy, and to provide a safe environment. The responsibilities can be endless, overwhelming, and maybe even a little frightening. It can be a very uncertain time. How do you know if you’re doing the right thing at the right time? You love your baby beyond imagining (right?). Is what you’re feeling normal?
New Mommy Stress and What to Do About It
- Lose the Baby Weight. You carried your baby for nine months. Maybe you sailed through your pregnancy; maybe you were sick as a dog. Either way, you gained some weight. Now that you delivered the baby, you want your body back. While some weight loss occurs with delivery, it’s not automatic or guaranteed that you’ll lose it all and certainly not immediately. It takes some work, and with all you must do caring for a new baby, finding time to exercise and eat healthy might not make it to the top of your to-do list. The remedy may sound old fashioned but have faith in a tried and true idea based on good old common sense. Sneak in bursts of exercise, 10-15 minutes at a time throughout the day. (Check out our blog, Fitting in Fitness, to make it a family affair.) Use weekend time when you have another set of eyes and hands available to take care of your newborn, and cook an extra batch of veggies or grilled chicken to have healthy food choices available during the week. Keep nourishing snacks on hand, too, like packages of dried fruits and nuts, granola bars or apples for grab-n-go ease without sacrificing nutrition.
- Instinctive Baby Care. You’re a new mom. If you’ve never done this before, how do you know if your instincts are on target? You are your baby’s whole world and she is depending on you. Of course, you want to get this right. There’s so much information and advice available at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen. You can go on information overload and feel even more insecure than before. The truth is you and your baby will learn about each other very quickly, as in spending most every waking moment together. This shared time will build your confidence and give you the faith and courage to trust your instinct when deciding what’s best for your cherub. And if by chance your instinct isn’t exactly on target, ask away.
- Crying Like a Baby. Let’s start with the baby. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you. When she’s hungry, she cries. When she’s wet, she cries. When she’s bored, she cries. When you think of it that way, you might feel a little more at ease when you begin to hear the telltale squeals, or rather the conversation your baby is trying to have with you. Soon enough, you’ll recognize the sound of the sobs and know just how to respond. While it’s unnerving to listen to a crying baby for any amount of time, rest assured she is not harmed by it, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t respond at the first sound of a whimper.
- New Baby, New Stress. You just might find yourself crying as well. It’s normal. The pregnancy hormones drop rather quickly in the first few days after giving birth, and then here come the nursing hormones. Tears may drop easily because you’re so happy, feeling overwhelmed, insecure, more tired than you ever imagined possible, or experiencing post-delivery pain. Your body and life have just undergone the most major change. It takes time to get to something that resembles normal. Take care of yourself. Be sure to keep hydrated and eat healthy meals. Talk to your partner and other trusted friends and family members about how you’re feeling to create a circle of support.
- Changing Relationships. Let’s face it, having a baby is a game changer. No longer are you someone’s partner, now you’re someone’s mother. That someone needs you for everything and most likely, every ounce of energy you have is directed and devoted to her. It can feel like there’s no room for the relationship that brought you here in the first place. Where you once talked about everything under the sun with your spouse or partner, your conversations may now be hijacked by the consistency and volume of baby poop, how many minutes the baby slept during the day (adding to your exhaustion) and how best to remove spit up stains from onesies. And intimacy? Who has the energy for that? Well, the relationship with your significant other is vitally important, especially now that the family tree has begun to grow. So, you must fight for it! As crazy as it sounds, schedule time for the just the two of you; that includes being intimate. No matter how tired and tattered you feel, carve out couple time on some type of regular basis. Whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine together after baby goes to bed, or you’re able to have a real honest to goodness date out of the house, muster the strength and keep this relationship in its rightful place in your life.
You may also have some surprising and ambivalent feelings toward your new bundle of joy. Of course, your heart is bursting with love, but is resentment sneaking in there as well? Maybe. If so, intense pangs of guilt may follow. The responsibilities of caring for and raising a child are awesome to say the least. You’re anxious, sleep deprived, and your moods are fluctuating. Know that it is natural to feel this way. One childbirth class instructor put it in perspective for her expecting parents this way. A newborn isn’t a newborn for long. When you look at the span of a person’s life, the first 12 months represent but a sliver of that life. When you’re diaper deep in sleepless nights or trying to calm an inconsolable infant, try and treasure these once in a lifetime moments that will end all too soon.