Although a very rewarding experience, becoming a new mother can be stressful and exhausting at times. Lack of sleep combined with juggling the needs of a new baby with an instantly hectic schedule of diapers and feedings can leave you feeling frazzled with very little patience or energy.
Before you throw in the towel of desperation, there are some helpful stress exercises you can use to stay calm, breathe easier, and make the job of motherhood look easy. You were meant to be a great mother, and you can be with a little help. Feeling conflicting emotions of happiness and joy one minute and depression or fear the next is completely normal. You are not alone; every mother goes through it. Thankfully though, you can learn how to cope better and ease those difficult emotions to more fully enjoy being a mother.
Breathing Exercises to Help Calm You Down
When we get stressed, we often ignore our breathing and forget that this perfect, automatic body function is a tool we can use to alleviate our worries. There are four simple techniques you can use to center yourself and help you calm down when things get crazy.
Belly breathing can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure while also easing tension. Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest and breathe deeply into your belly and feel it rise. Then breathe out slowly and feel your stomach pull in. Do this for five minutes for instant relief of stress and feelings of overwhelm.
You can also try equal-length breathing where you count to four on the inhale and then again on the exhale. Focusing on counting helps to calm and center your attention. You can increase your count numbers as you slow your breathing down as much as you want. You can also try alternate-nostril or box breathing to help you slow down, find some inner peace and get grounded again before continuing with your day.
Breastfeeding to Bond and De-Stress
The choice to breastfeed or not is a personal one that you must make on your own. However, studies show incredible health benefits not only for the baby but also for the mother. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of cancer for mom while also staving off infections and stomach upset for the baby.
Breastfeeding is also a time of deep bonding for mother and child. Your body has the capacity to feed and nourish your child without anything extra, just you and the baby. The milk you supply is highly nutritious and contains everything your growing baby needs. It is also a pleasant, calming experience for both the baby and mother. In the beginning, it might be difficult or stressful but it gets easier quickly.
Not only is breastfeeding good for you and the baby, but it is also good for the environment. It costs nothing to produce and is all natural. It also saves money. Babies who are breastfed for at least six months reduce healthcare costs and hospital visits by 72 percent.
The Sleep Component: How to Sleep Better & Relax More
Taking care of a newborn can be very tiring, so it is also important that you get your rest. However, with a million things running through your mind when you lay down at night, sleep may not come easily. It helps to have a solid routine for relaxation before bed, so you get the rest you need.
Before retiring for the night, make a list of your to-dos, so you don’t have to think of them while laying there trying to doze off. Tidy up the house a bit and turn your cell phone off or put it on do-not-disturb mode. Drinking a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before bed helps you drift off quicker.
Keeping things consistent will help integrate a new baby into your life. Once you and the child get into a routine, life will settle down and feel more pleasant. Be flexible and adjust as you need; everyone is different and has unique ways of living.
Make Time For You
Once you start a family, you tend to make yourself the last priority, and this is dangerous. If you are too tired and stressed to help others, then you are no good to anyone. You need to make time for you and your needs.
Schedule regular times with a parent or friend to watch the baby so you can take a nice long walk, get a massage, or get your haircut. Work with your partner to divide the household and baby chores, so you are not left wiped out by all the work. Make time for your hobbies and relaxation too.
Other things you can do for yourself are to eat regular healthy meals, get exercise and meditate for stress relief and better productivity. Rely on and ask for help from others when it gets to be too much; you don’t need to be superwoman. Take time to enjoy the small moments with your baby and feel the pure joy of your connection with this little miracle.