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Becoming a new parent: what to do when the stress of parenting is taking its toll


Having a baby is one of the most stressful yet exciting life events for new parents. You’ve done your research online, read books on parenting but you can never be too prepared.

Juggling between work, relationships and giving your newborn your undivided attention can be really tough and can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety.


In this new chapter of your life, there are various factors that could cause you stress. In this article we’ll explore the reasons why new parents are experiencing anxiety as well as recommended coping mechanisms and ways to overcome these feelings.



Stress can be harmful if it overcomes your ability to cope with it


What causes stress after having a baby?


  • Lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest and most common issues new parents are facing. Whether you wake up throughout the night to feed your baby because it’s going through a reverse nursing cycle, or you’re experiencing bad quality sleep, this can cause severe irritation, anxiety and stress. Lack of sleep holds you back from starting your day fresh and from tackling all of your tasks and responsibilities.


  • Fussy baby

There’s nothing more stressful for a parent than a fussy baby in tears. Your baby keeps crying but you’re not sure why or what you can do to stop it. Various questions and thoughts are popping in your mind, but the answer only comes with time and experience. However, the stress you are feeling doesn’t go away and that makes sense. As a new parent, you’ll always worry whether you’re doing things the right way and if you’ve adopted the right parenting approaches and methods.


  • Baby experiencing baby bottle refusal

Baby bottle refusal is a very common problem that can be incredibly stressful for new parents. It’s absolutely normal to be anxious about this, especially when thoughts that your baby might be hungry are constantly jumping through your mind. The Teatle is a great solution for new parents experiencing this problem, as it’s genuinely similar to a natural breast, making it extremely comfortable and soft for babies to feed from. There are also several things you can do to help your baby accepting the bottle.


  • Lack of time

So much to do and such little time in the day! Once you have a baby, it feels like time flies. You’re finding it difficult to prioritize your tasks and responsibilities, and this is causing you stress and anxiety.


  • Hormonal changes

During pregnancy as well as in the early postpartum period, women experience significant hormonal changes. These changes can be responsible for an increase in their stress levels which makes them feel more anxious than usual. This combined with a significant change in their lifestyle and the need to constantly take care of a baby can lead to feelings of anger or depression.



  • Fatigue

According to R. Giallo et al. fatigue is one of the most common causes of stress after having a baby. Fatigue is ‘an overwhelming sense of tiredness’ which new parents cannot overcome with rest or sleep. How can you not feel tired though? You’re multitasking, breastfeeding, and trying to figure out your new life with both the baby and your partner. All these tasks and thoughts affect you psychologically and make you feel stress and anxiety.



How can I deal with new parent stress?



Dealing with new parent stress is not an easy process and it sometimes requires time and effort. There are various things you can incorporate to your weekly or daily schedule that will improve your mood and well-being, and significantly reduce your stress levels.



It is possible to cope with stress and enjoy life with your new family!

  • Rest both physically and mentally

As mentioned above, sleep deprivation can affect you on a mental and physical level, especially when you have so many things to cross of your list every day. You could try aligning your schedule to your baby’s and catch up on some sleep when your baby is taking a nap. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, having your baby in your room at night will make going back to sleep much easier for you. To rest your mind, try practicing mindfulness for a few minutes every day.


  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Increase your energy levels by adopting a healthy and balanced diet. Instead of eating saturated fats, you can try foods high in protein as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system. Your new eating habits will improve your mood and make you feel more energetic and less stressed.


  • Exercise

Improve your physical and mental well-being through regular exercise. Every time you work out, endorphins are released to your body and give you an energy boost. Try incorporating exercise to your schedule a few times a week, whether that’s following an instructor on YouTube or going for a brisk walk with your baby in the stroller.


  • Make time for yourself and your relationship

Making time for your self-care routine as well as your relationship is key to overcome stress after having a baby. Sometimes this seems impossible, however spending some quality time with your partner while someone baby sits your baby is key, according to the NHS. It will take your mind off baby duties, empower you and boost your self-confidence.


  • Communicate and seek social support

According to a qualitative study conducted by the Midwifery titled ‘Stressful events, social support and coping strategies of primiparous women during the postpartum period’, women in the postpartum period tend to seek social support to overcome stress. Whether it’s a friend, a relative, your partner, or a specialist, find someone you feel comfortable with and talk to them about your feelings of stress and anxiety. A fresh pair of eyes to your concerns might give you a different perspective!




Feeling anxiety and stress after having a baby is normal and truly happens to almost everyone. Whether your stress derives from lack of sleep or your newborn’s baby bottle refusal, you’re not alone in this new journey of your life. You need to remember that in order to take care of your baby you need to take care of yourself first.





References:

Rebecca Giallo , Natalie Rose , Amanda Cooklin & Derek McCormack (2013)

In survival mode: mothers and fathers’ experiences of fatigue in the early parenting period, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 31:1, 31-45, DOI: 10.1080/02646838.2012.751584


C. Razurel, M. Bruchon-Schweitzer, A. Dupanloup, O. Irion, M. Epiney (2011)

Stressful events, social support and coping strategies of primiparous women during the postpartum period: a qualitative study, Midwifery 27 (2011) 237–242







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