Having a baby can be one of the most exciting times of your life. But it can also bring with it some changes that can prove stressful.
You’ll have to get used to your new role as a parent, come to terms with a new body shape, an altering financial situation and alterations to your relationships with your partner and family. On top of all of that, you’ll probably have to struggle with sleepless nights for a certain amount of time.
Some of the simplest ways to deal with stress involve taking a bit of time out for you. Looking after someone else can mean that you neglect yourself and the things that you’re used to doing and so this in itself can cause all sorts of stress. However, one of the first steps to relieving stress is acknowledging it – that way you can start to take steps to reduce your stress.
Tips on how to de-stress
The sleep deprivation that new parents have to deal with is enough to make anyone feel stressed out. If you can, catch up on missed sleep throughout the day – probably the best rule of thumb is to nap when your baby naps. If you find that you can’t actually sleep during the day, at least try curling up on the sofa with a warm drink. If you’re relaxed and comfortable, even just for half an hour, it will help to recharge your batteries.
When you wake up throughout the night to feed the baby, you should do things to make that time spent awake easier. For instance, place the baby’s cot very close to your bed so that it’s not difficult to get up when they cry for a feed. You and your partner could share feeding duties – they could pass the baby over to you for the feed, or they could burp her and settle her back down to sleep afterwards.
An excellent tip for coping with stress is to spend half an hour each day doing something that you enjoy – maybe once your baby has gone to sleep for the night. Ignore the housework; it can wait for a little while! Use that half an hour to spend some time with your partner or friends, take a warm bath or even just read a book. Whatever you do with that time, treasure it as your time and you should find that it helps to ease some of your stress.
Seeing other people can also help to relieve stress, as it can help you to realise that you’re not all alone. See if your midwife or doctor can recommend a local mother and baby group or mother and toddler group, or see if you can meet up with other mums that you might meet at the clinic or local playgroup. You’ll be able to talk through your worries with other new mums and this should help to alleviate some of your stresses.
Make time for your partner and make sure that you talk through your concerns with them. There’s no point keeping everything bottled up inside when it will just cause you to be more stressed out – talk things out, explain any stresses or worries that you might have and see if you can work out some ways to relieve your stress together. Making time with your partner, even if all you have the energy to do is watch some television together, will help to keep your relationship strong despite the stresses of being new parents. Not making that time with each other could cause problems in your relationship, which will cause you to be more stressed.
Exercising and eating well are also great ways to relieve the stress of being a new parent. A little gentle exercise each day will release feel-good hormones called endorphins which will make you feel happier and less stressed out. Eating the right foods will also help to keep your energy levels up – if you eat heavy foods or processed foods, you’ll end up feeling a little sluggish and tired, so the best thing to do is eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and some good, complex carbohydrates such as jacket potatoes and wholemeal pasta.
However, if some chocolate makes you feel a bit better, have one! Just remember not to have too much in the way of processed or sugary foods as they will cause your energy levels to crash. If you need some help with your diet and food then look at our Healthy Mummy Smoothie plan (which GOOD NEWS include chocolate!) as our plans and advice can help you feel healthy and shed some kilos
Relaxation is also one of the best ways to relieve stress. If you learned relaxation techniques at your antenatal classes, keep going with them! Things like meditation and yoga can help to relieve you of stress, or you could try a guided relaxation CD. If you find that you’re still stressed out despite following some of the tips above, try speaking to your doctor.