5 Ways to Reduce Stress as a New Mom
It’s no secret that being a new mom can be extremely stressful! From changing diapers, sleep deprivation, body changes, a new identity and everything in between - there are a lot of triggers to stress during this stage of life.
Actually, I think there is the potential for stress around every corner in motherhood, not just in the newborn stage, but stress does not have to be a mothers constant state. There are ways to reduce stress in a healthy way so you can live a more fulfilling, relaxed life.
Before I go on to tell you five ways to reduce stress in new motherhood, let's first examine why moms tend to get stressed in the first place.
Guilt associated with self care
Moms often have a perception that everyone’s needs must come before their own. This selfless way of thinking can lead to a lack of taking care of yourself.
When you are busy taking care of everyone else, who is taking care of you?
You are exerting so much energy on everything and everyone around you that you get left neglected and stressed.
Let’s try to rewrite this narrative that it is not okay for a mom to put herself first sometimes!
Striving for Perfection
It is so much pressure to expect perfection (& it’s impossible)!! I know we want to raise “good” humans but no matter how “perfect” of a parent you are, it is impossible to do everything exactly “right.” To hope and expect things to be perfect creates so much unnecessary stress on a new mom. Instead, try to be intentional and set reasonable expectations for yourself and your children.
Being a new mom may come with self doubt. There are so many changes, adjustments, and unique questions during this stage that we don’t always have the answers to. Mother’s are constantly reevaluating what they are doing and are often the point person when a question arises. Even more, there is so much information out there that mother’s can get sucked into looking for answers rather than learning to trust their own instincts.
It’s so easy for a mother to question herself and to put so much pressure on themselves to not make the “wrong” choice for fear of consequences of making a mistake.
These are just a few of the many reasons why new mothers tend to feel stressed, now let’s look at
5 ways to reduce stress as a new mom:
As I previously mentioned, mom’s tend to have so much guilt attached to self care. Just the thought of putting themselves before anyone, especially their new baby can trigger so much anxiety and emotional turmoil. BUT, I am here to give you permission (because it’s hard to give ourselves permission) to take care of yourself!
intentionally set aside time to take care of yourself. Here are some ideas for how to do this:
take a shower
get dressed out of your pajamas
read or watch your favorite show
do your makeup if that makes you feel good
drink water & eat nutritiously
be kind to yourself - give yourself grace & compassion
As you can see, no one is saying to neglect your new baby, most of these recommendations for self care are small but powerful to help you feel more like yourself which will make you an even better mom!
Being a new mom can sometimes feel very lonely. Despite being with your new little human pretty much 24/7, new moms report often feeling isolated and alone which can lead to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) like postpartum depression or anxiety.
It is crucial to set aside specific time to be with loved ones. I say “specific” because it can be easy to neglect yourself and your need for interactions so being intentional and specific is important. Reach out to someone you trust and ask them to come over or to go for a walk if you feel up for it.
Spending time with friends can help a new mom unwind, relax, and feel a bit more like herself. There are so many changes with becoming a new mom, anything to help you feel a little bit more like yourself is important to reach for.
If your friends also have children, if possible, try to set up a time without kids so it can be uninterrupted, quality time. If this is not possible, set up a playdate with the kids!
Prior to this new role, basic hygiene was, most likely, not something you would’ve ever considered neglecting. Now, however, when you are faced with someone taking all of your time and energy it’s easy to neglect yourself.
It may sound so simple and easy, but taking a 5 minute shower or changing out of your pajamas can really do wonders at helping you feel more like yourself.
It is important to be intentional about this. If you are pregnant or not yet a parent and reading this you may think it sounds so silly, who would neglect something so basic like brushing their teeth? BUT in those early days of sleep deprivation and, at times, survival mode, it is easy to throw those tasks out the window. Being intentional may look like asking a visitor to sit with the baby while you take care of yourself for a few minutes.
You don't have to do it all!
Maybe prior to becoming a mom you were so used to doing it all but now that seems impossible (hint: because it is!) which can leave you feeling defeated. It’s important to know that you are not alone in this!! It is typically so hard to ask for help but it is crucial in this stage of life to let go of some control.
Have you ever had someone ask what you need help with only to draw a blank and say nothing? A suggestion I have is to leave your "to do'' list on your refrigerator so when visitors come over you don't have to overthink about what you need help with, you can point to the list and they can check something off for you.
It is also important to talk with your partner about who is doing what and don't forget to divide the mental load as well as the physical load. It is more common that the mom gets left with the burden of the mental load which can be so exhausting and very taxing which can lead to resentments and relational issues. Find time to sit down and sort through this - communication is key!
it is okay to reach out for professional help!
Did you know perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, or PMADs — are the #1 complication of pregnancy and childbirth? This new stage of life can be really difficult - maybe you thought you'd have more support from family, or maybe the adjustment has been harder than you imagine - no matter what the reasons are, you don't have to struggle alone.
Therapy is a safe and non-judgmental space for a new mother to process her many emotions. It offers support and a space for a new mom to take care of herself when she spends 99% of her time taking care of everyone else.
Therapy for new moms can help with processing your new identity, your birth, feeding struggles, adjusting to multiple children, returning to work, lack of support and so much more.
To learn more about postpartum therapy for new moms, check out this blog post
If you are a new mom and can relate to this post & are interested in talking further, contact me today for a free phone consultation!
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