Parenting is a wonderful experience, but being a new parent to a newborn baby can have its fair share of stress and anxiety. Stress associated with raising a newborn can be caused by the increasing demands including constant nursing, non-stop crying, diaper changes, cleaning, cooking, and laundry.
Parenting related stress does not only interfere with your overall wellbeing, but it can also interfere with your child’s development (Neece et al., 2012; Baker et al., 2003; Field, 2010). That being said, it is important that you take care of your physical, emotional and psychological well-being in order to ward off stress and anxiety.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
- Constant feelings of anger and frustration towards family and yourself
- Crying and constant feelings of despair
- Inability to sleep
- Sudden weight gain or weigh loss
- Constant headaches
- Consuming alcohol uncontrollably
- Inability to get out of bed in the morning
- Inability to manage day-to-day baby and family routines
Tips for Coping Effectively with the Demands of a Newborn Baby
The following are strategies that you can incorporate into your day-to-day schedule as you take care of your child:
Get Extra Help at Home if You Have a Colicky Baby
A colicky baby can lead to immense stress for both parents. As the primary caregivers, you are likely to feel guilty, depressed and even fatigued (Kurth et al., 2011). In most cases, colic tends to go away by the time a baby is 3 to 6 months.
That being said, it is important that you find meaningful ways of beating stress such as asking someone else to take care of your baby while you relax in a different room. If you are able to, have a partner or a family member help you with taking turns in looking after the baby. That way you can take a long bath or use that time to cook or do laundry.
Get Your Priorities Straight
A new baby comes with new priorities. Therefore, it is important that you learn to manage your priorities. Take time to write down your priorities, as well as motherhood and family goals. Finally, create time for what you feel is most important.
Remember it is okay to just sit and do nothing. Your mental health is also very important. Laundry and cleaning the house can always be done a different day.
Do you have a zen den in your room? If not, it is advisable that you create one. Mindfulness practices are a great tool for easing stress, improving attention and reducing anxiety (Potharst et al., 2017). Meditation for new moms will help you find balance in your life, increase self efficacy, and self empowerment (Perez‐Blasco et al., 2013) . You will feel less disoriented, and happier during your motherhood journey.
Listen to Music
Some soothing classical music will go a long way in stabilizing your mood and increasing milk production, thus reducing stress and anxiety (Labrague & McEnroe-Petitte, 2014; Pittman & Kridli, 2011). Therefore, it is advisable that you listen to soothing songs. Also, you might want to turn up the volume and dance away.
Take a Nap
Having a new baby on board can affect your sleeping patterns significantly (Hiscock & Wake, 2001; Symon & Crichton, 2017). What’s more, sleep deprivation is a great source of stress and anxiety for both the infant and the mother (Lam et al., 2003; Symon & Crichton, 2017). Lack of sleep can alter your mood, judgment and even memory, which is unhealthy for both you and your baby.
Therefore, it is critical that you take a 20 to 30-minute nap, particularly when your baby falls asleep. You will certainly wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to continue taking care of your baby.
It can be difficult to take care of yourself when taking care of a newborn baby. That said, be sure to eat right, exercise, and have adequate rest. If you can, find someone that can watch the baby for a few hours while you get your nails or hair done. Something so small can have huge benefits that will last for a couple of weeks.
Bringing up a newborn baby is a wonderful experience for most parents. However, as mentioned earlier, your motherhood journey can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety.
With that been said, I believe that the above tips will not only help you cope more effectively with stressful motherhood and family situations but also help to ensure that you enjoy bringing up your bundle of joy.
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Baker, B.L., McIntyre, L.L., Blacher, J., Crnic, K., Edelbrock, C., Low, C. (2003). Pre-school children with and without developmental delay: Behaviour problems and parenting stress over time. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 47:217–230.
Field, T. (2010). Postpartum depression effects on early interactions, parenting, and safety practices: A review. Infant Behavior & Development, 33(1), 1– 6.
Hiscock H, Wake, M.(2001) Infant sleep problems and postnatal depression: a community-based study. Pediatrics,107:1317–22.
Kingston, D., Tough, S., & Whitfield, H. (2012). Prenatal and postpartum maternal psychological distress and infant development: A systematic review. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 43(5), 683– 714.
Lam, P., Hiscock, H., Wake M.(2003). Outcomes of infant sleep problems: a longitudinal study of sleep, behavior, and maternal well-being. Pediatrics, 111:e203–7.
Perez‐Blasco, J., Viguer, P., & Rodrigo, M. F. (2013). Effects of a mindfulness‐based intervention on psychological distress, well‐being, and maternal self‐efficacy in breast‐feeding mothers: Results of a pilot study. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 16(3), 227– 236.