Having a newborn baby can bring lots of excitement and happiness to your life. But that little bundle of joy can also add stress and anxiety. Many new moms may feel overwhelmed and wonder:
- Am I feeding my baby enough?
- Why is my baby crying so much?
- How will I find the energy to care for my new baby?
- What will happen once my help leaves?
- Am I giving my other children and partner enough attention?
- Is my relationship with my partner suffering?
Take comfort; many new moms feel the same way. These concerns are common and perfectly normal. You can take steps to help manage the stress of being a new mom.
- Sleep. Get as much rest as you can, wherever and whenever you can. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Grab a quick nap in the passenger’s seat during a car ride. Work out a nighttime feeding schedule with your partner so that you’re both able to care for the baby and still get some rest.
- Eat healthy foods. The right foods can help give you more energy. Try not to overload on caffeine. Instead, eat healthy foods and drink lots of water.
- Exercise. You may not have time to do long workouts. But even a few minutes here and there spread throughout the day can help you have more energy! Take baby for a walk. Do a few minutes of physical activity at home during baby’s daytime naps. Try a local exercise class specially made for new moms and babies.
- Expect a wave of emotions. Lack of sleep, added stress and worry can leave you feeling like you’re on a roller coaster of emotions all in the same minute. Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone! These feelings are perfectly normal. Some moms experience the baby blues about 3-5 days after childbirth. These feelings usually end by the 10th day after the baby is born. But if your feelings last longer than 2 weeks or get worse, this could be a sign of depression. Talk to your health provider.
- Make time together. Your lives may be much busier now that you're caring for a new baby. Schedule some alone time for you and your partner to connect. This can be while you’re getting ready for bed, doing the dishes together or watching TV.
- Share your feelings. Caring for a new baby can put a strain on your relationship. Talk to your partner and share what you're both feeling. This can help you avoid bigger conflicts down the road.
- Handle conflicts the right way. There may be times when you'll disagree with your partner about everything from chores, to work, to how you care for the baby. Keep the argument focused on the issue. Tell each other clearly why you're upset. Avoid attacking or criticizing each other. Compromise and try to reach an agreement that will make you both satisfied.
- Praise each other. Being a new mom or dad is not as easy as it looks on TV. Give each other a pat on the back when you manage another round of feedings or get through a sleepless night together. Everyone likes to know when they're doing well, and that goes for moms and dads, too.
- Have the kids help. Caring for your new baby and an older child can be challenging. Involve your older children in caring for the baby. Give them small jobs they can handle like folding the baby's onesies, fetching a diaper or pushing the carriage.
- Keep older kids busy. It's hard to include a baby's older siblings in some activities like breastfeeding. When you know you won’t be able to include older kids, have toys on hand so that you can care for baby without worrying about leaving out an older child.
- Set visiting hours. Many people in your life will want to see you and get to know your new baby. Schedule a time for visits that works best for you and the baby, even if that means asking friends and family to wait a few weeks until you get a handle on things. Don't be afraid to ask visitors to help. Example: They can watch the baby while you get some much needed rest.
- Even Mommy needs a play date. Your new baby needs lots of love and attention, but so do you! Whenever you can, schedule time out for yourself. Have your partner or a loved one watch the baby. Whether it's a few minutes to write in a journal, to call a long-distance friend, or have a cup of coffee with a close neighbor, give yourself a much needed timeout.
- Put the broom and mop away. If the house is a mess, the laundry piles up and dust bunnies appear, don't worry. Your most important job is to take care of yourself and your baby. Take a few cleaning shortcuts. Examples: Don't bother putting clean clothes away; store them in a laundry basket. Use a fresh diaper wipe to freshen up the bathroom. Save yourself much needed time and effort.
- Farm out meals. You've got a new baby and may even have older children to look after. Finding enough time to prepare meals may be difficult at first. Have your partner make a meal or bring one home. When friends and family visit, ask them to bring a dish that you all can share. Freeze any leftovers for future meals. Order healthy takeout from a local restaurant.
- Take a helping hand. If relatives and friends offer to help, take them up on it! Ask them to fold laundry or load the dishwasher. Have them watch the baby while you take a shower or nap. Have them care for the baby while you take a walk around the block to clear your head.
Caring for a newborn can put your life in a whirlwind. Try to enjoy the time you have with your newborn and the happiness he brings to your life. Take everything else one day at a time. Remember: The newborn days won't last long. Soon, you and your partner will have a better grasp on life with a baby, and you can give yourselves a much needed pat on the back!