How to Cope With the Stress of Being a New Parent

By Ashley Miller
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The joy and excitment a new child brings to your lives can be one of the most magical experiences as new parents. But being a new parent also brings its share of stress, anxiety and worry. At times, you may feel overwhelmed and overextended -- and that's completely normal. Feeling stressed about positive life events like having a new baby is common, says Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, medical director for The National Center for Children and Families in an article for the "Parenting" magazine website. But you don't have to let stress get you down -- you can successfully cope with the stress of being a new parent.

Step 1

Maintain a realistic attitude about parenting your new baby, advises the Canadian Mental Health Association. If you expect to feel upbeat and energized, you may only be setting yourself up for defeat. When you inevitably crash and burn from the late night feedings and early morning awakenings, high expectations can cause you to become self-critical and develop negative self-talk patterns, which will only contribute to your stress level.

Step 2

Simplify your life as much as possible. If you have too many things on your agenda, cut out the items that are not absolutely necessary and prioritize those that must be accomplished immediately. Don't schedule back-to-back appointments -- leave some time in between so you can unwind and relax, advises the Child Development Institute.

Step 3

Practice deep breathing to calm down when things get rough. During times of stress, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, which causes you to feel more stressed. Taking a deep breath helps you slow down and decreases your body's automatic stress response, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Place your hands on your belly and inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 10. Pause, then exhale slowly out of your nose for a count of 10. Repeat this process until you feel calmer.

Step 4

Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or family member. Discussing your feelings provides you with an outlet, alleviates stress and prevents blow-ups. If you don't feel comfortable talking about your feelings, keeping a journal can be a usefull way to work out issues and alleviate stress, says the Womenshealth.gov website.

Step 5

Address minor irritations with your partner before the situation gets out of control, advises Kids Health. When you're each busy with the responsibilities of being a new parent, you might forget to connect or discuss issues that are bothering you. Avoid discussing issues in the heat of the moment -- instead, set aside time to talk when you're both feeling calm.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.