We’re always told that welcoming a new child is a joyous occasion, full of happiness and love – and for a lot of people, that’s all it is. But for many families, it’s also a time of enormous stress and difficulty. These difficulties can be the result of a wide range of different causes and can affect people quite differently. Today, we’re going to look at some of the recommended ways to cope with stress after having a baby.
It’s an oft-repeated piece of advice, but there’s a very good reason for that. Getting help to cope, no matter what the reasons for the stress are, can be absolutely vital. This support can come from your partner, friends, whānau, or your family doctor or other health professional. It’s impossible for one person to do everything themselves, and it’s okay to ask for help. What that help is depends on what it is you need to deal with your specific circumstances; it might be someone to watch baby while you rest, someone to help prepare some nutritious food for you, or just someone to vent to, who can listen to what it is that is causing difficulty and for you to bounce ideas off.
Finding a way to channel stress is hugely important. And how we do that is another thing that will vary from person to person. Setting aside some time for a bit of pampered bath time might be ideal for one person. Alternatively, you might prefer to engage in some art, reading, or exercise. For some people, leaving bubs with their partner and heading out to do the shopping alone can be a fantastic way to reset – it really all depends on what it is that gets your stress levels down. And what works for one person may have the exact opposite effect for another. Ultimately, though, it’s about remembering who you were before you became a parent – that person hasn’t gone; they’ve just added responsibilities, and it’s okay to take some time out to ground yourself. You aren’t just a parent; you’re also a person in your own right.
Manage Your Expectations
Media – whether social or traditional – can give us a specific set of expectations when it comes to parenthood: happy smiling mothers and fathers, immaculate houses, adorable babies sleeping peacefully in their beds. The truth is, though, reality is seldom as neat as we’re led to believe. Things are often challenging, and accepting that that is more normal than not can go a long way to helping manage those stress levels. Incorporating the support around you to help deal with the difficulties can also help us keep on top of things. It’s not just the expectations surrounding the baby, though – these expectations extend to what new parents often feel they need to do. Things like the laundry cycle, as with the pile of dirty dishes, can seem never-ending. Sometimes, you just can’t get to them when you think you need to, and that’s okay. Your house probably won’t be spotless. You might wear your pyjamas all day. Last night’s dishes could still be sitting there, waiting to be washed. It is all fine. It happens, and you will get to it eventually. Getting a handle on what is essential to do now versus what can wait until later is crucial when a new baby has arrived.
Keep An Eye On Your Mood
This final point cannot be stated enough. If you’re finding that the times you’re feeling down or stressed are becoming constant or prolonged rather than being short-lived periods, seeking help can become incredibly important. High or long-lasting stress can increase your risk of developing postnatal depression, anxiety, or other related mental health conditions. Check in with your midwife, GP, or another health professional, and remember – it’s okay to admit that you are finding it difficult to cope, and it’s okay to ask for help from those around you.
This blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be taken as such. If you have any concerns about your health or well-being, please consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre