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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I manage stress associated with taking care of a baby?

    Advice advice/tips would be helpful…
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Self care is a really important priority when you are a parent. It is really important to remember the things you used to like doing before baby came along and organise for a partner or other family to take care of baby on a regular basis- even if its only a an hour once a week to start with. It is impossible to be with baby 24/7 without any breaks- no other job would call for it!

    Taking a break will help relieve the stress.

    Learning deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation excercises is another great tool to help manage the stress. See
    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breathing_to_reduce_stress?open
    for tios on how to breathe slowly.


  • 2

    Thanks

    Dr Bronwyn Leigh

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Bronwyn Leigh is a clinical and health psychologist and Director of Perinatal Psychology, a private practice specialising in psychological services to parents, infants, couples … View Profile

    I agree with Melanie’s post, that self care, including slowing your breathing, relaxation and taking time out can all help manage the stress associated with caring for a baby.  It is important to find ways to calm while in the presence of your baby and ‘on the run’ throughout the day.  Slowed controlled breathing is particularly useful as it can be done anywhere, and can be helpful in calming you and your baby simultaneously.  Slowing yourself down can help your baby to slow down.
     
    An approach called mindfulness can be helpful.  Mindfulness involves being in the ‘here and now’.  It is about paying attention, on purpose and in the moment, without judgement.
     
    Mindfulness can help us to:
    -   Slow down
    -   Manage our feelings and those of our baby
    -   Become attuned to our baby 
    -   Enhance reflective capacity
    -   Appreciate the small moments
    -   Cope with change
    -   Focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’
     
    You can learn mindfulness skills from some psychologists and mindfulness meditation classes are also available.  Importantly, a mindful approach can help you stay connected with your baby and it enhances the quality of parenting.
     
    As a final thought, I suggest that at times when you feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do, bring the focus back to your relationship with your baby.  Delight in him or her!  Take pleasure in the simple things together and share moments of joy, even if there are many difficult and unsettled moments in the day.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr Carolyn Ee

    Acupuncturist, GP (General Practitioner)

    I'm a Sydney GP with a special interest in women's health especially menopause and TTC ( trying to conceive). I specialise in acupuncture, and am … View Profile

    I agree completely with the two excellent posts above. Are you talking about how you are feeling with your partner, maternal health nurse and GP? Caring for a baby can be very stressful especially for a first time parent.

    It may seem difficult to find the time and energy to have some time off from your baby, but this is key to how you will be able to cope with your full time job. New mothers often feel like they do not want to be apart from their babies, or worry that other people will not be able to care for them the same way, or feel guilty for taking some time for themselves. I cannot stress enough how important it is to schedule this regular time off, as you will experience “burnout” otherwise.

    Pay attention to your diet - make sure you are eating healthy meals regularly, and avoiding the “crutches” of too much sugar, fat and caffeine. Eat unrefined, unprocessed foods with plenty of protein, and ensure you are eating adequate amounts if you are breastfeeding. Low fat dairy, fresh vegetables, lean poultry and fish and lean red meat, legumes, nuts and some fruit as well as unrefined cereals are key in your diet. For example, you could have yoghurt with muesli for breakfast, a tuna and avocado sandwich for lunch, and salad with grilled lean meat at dinner, and snack in between on nuts, vegetables, fruit, yoghurt, and low fat cheese. Tea is a wonderful drink as it refreshes you as well as calms you - now, if only us mums could have a hot cup of tea all the time!

    Exercise does wonderful things to lift your spirits. Perhaps your time off could be going for a walk for 20-30 minutes and building up to half an hour, on most days of the week. Going to postnatal yoga or pilates can be a good choice as well.

    Also, if you are having troubles with your baby's routine or sleep, seek help! See your maternal and child health nurse for advice in the first case. Sorting these issues out can greatly decrease maternal stress.

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