When my sister-in-law was expecting, she was stressing about things I did not even consider when my four were babies. She banished items from the house, had her mom agree to stay with her for months, not weeks, months, and read every baby book ever written. Maybe ignorance truly is bliss, or maybe moms should relax a little more. The following tips did little to help my sister-in-law, even when I presented evidence that my four children survived; but maybe they will help you, anxious mama.
1. Sleep. Sleep-deprivation can do crazy things to a person, not the least of which is to exacerbate anxiety. This could be the very best thing to combat anxiety. Sleep when your baby sleeps, even if that means skipping the floor washing, or dish duty for now. This brief window of time demands proper rest. Call in a family member, friend or hire a sitter just so you can take a solid nap.
2. Stop the train of "what if" thoughts: Are you staying up all night worried that your baby might stop breathing, or are you worried that your car seat is not installed properly, or the toys are dangerous? Instead of following each thought to its most dramatic ending, write those thoughts down. Now use the list as an action list and take steps to eliminate potential dangers. Take any excess fabric out of your child's crib, have the car seat inspected at a local fire station, use Google to determine if your worries about the toys hold any weight and so on.
3. Do something with yourself: Focusing all your energy on your newborn is not healthy. While they certainly need you, it is imperative that you do not get lost in the shuffle of feedings and diaper changes. Turn on music, draw pictures, read a novel, or simply talk to a friend about anything other than your baby. The simplest thing can pull you out of anxious all-consuming thought patterns.
4. Listen to other moms: The first child is dramatically life-altering, but once the second or third child comes along, moms loosen up. Listen to what they have to say. Observe the habits of loving moms and how they interact with their children.
5. Embrace your anxiety: Okay, so you are anxious, do not add stressing about being anxious to your list. This was one of the most surprising things my sister-in-law was stressed about. She worried that her anxiety would rub off on her baby. Stressing about every last detail is not sustainable; sooner or later you will drop the ball, and when you do, don't be surprised if everything is just fine regardless.
6. Take a media break: We have information literally at the tip of our fingertips anytime of the day or night. This is not a bad thing, unless you are continually reading all the horrible things that could go wrong. Anyone who has ever self-diagnosed a life-threatening illness from Web MD knows that information can be skewed. Call a truce between you and the internet, books, and child care magazines until you gain your bearings and have a little real life experience under your belt.7. Call the doctor: If you are worried about something in particular, don't be afraid to call your pediatrician or the nurse's helpline. They are used to frantic new moms and are very familiar with babies. Also, if your anxiety is taking over your personality, make a call to your doctor. They may be able to help calm your fears or direct you to counseling.
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