Having a baby is both exciting and overwhelming. Late-night feedings, diaper changes, crying spells and keeping the baby on a schedule will fill up your days and nights. It’s not uncommon for a mother to become stressed while raising a newborn child. Stress can lead to a variety of health issues such as sleeping problems, headaches, and stomach and mental health issues. Dealing with stress properly when raising a newborn child is not only beneficial to you, but your baby as well.
Get plenty of sleep. This can be tricky with a newborn, but lack of sleep can lead to an increase in stress. Adequate sleep can help you cope with stress better. WomensHealth.gov recommends aiming for seven to nine hours per night. If this isn’t possible, sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it is in the middle of the day.
Take time for yourself. You can’t care for your baby properly if you don’t care for yourself. Take a bath, meditate, read for 30 minutes or go for a walk. If you can’t squeeze in a long block of time for yourself, take just five minutes now and then to sit down alone and relax your mind and body.
Eat a healthful diet. Don’t load up on coffee and soda to try to keep you awake and alert. Instead, drink plenty of water and a diet high in protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains to keep your mind and body healthy. A healthful diet can reduce your stress level.
Ask for help from others. You don’t need to be supermom and do everything yourself. Enlist friends and family to help with feedings, running errands or doing laundry. When someone offers to help out, say "yes." Putting pressure on yourself to do everything will only increase your stress levels.
Keep your body in motion. Exercising is an effective stress-reducer. It can improve your mood and ease tense muscles. Check with your doctor to find out when it’s safe to start exercising after giving birth.
Make your life simple -- at least for the time being. When it comes to taking care of a newborn, you'll have a lot to do. If you feel stressed, simplify your life by making quick and easy meals and skimping on the housework a bit to keep your stress level down. It’s important to keep a feeding and nap schedule for a newborn, but keep other scheduled activities to a minimum so you don’t feel pressured to meet those time frames.
Talk to friends and family members about how you’re feeling or keep a journal to let off some steam. Expressing your feelings orally to others or even in writing can make a big difference in how you feel and how you handle the stress of caring for a newborn.
Expect challenges to arise and accept that everything will not go smoothly when raising a newborn. Don’t stress out over the milk stains on the baby’s clothes, a diaper that stayed on the baby for a little too long, or that your newborn is crying and you can’t soothe her. You’re developing a new relationship with this person and it takes time to learn how to satisfy her specific needs.
Seek professional help, if necessary. If you can’t seem to get your stress under control, talk to your doctor or a therapist. Postpartum depression is a serious stress disorder that can be eased with therapy and medications to help you cope with the stress of having and raising a baby.