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Coping With Stress

You've given birth but there is no super-mom hormone that will suddenly kick in to help you get through the early years of having one little person completely dependent on you. You need to figure out how you're going to reorganize and reprioritize so that you, your baby, your partner, and your family thrive in the midst of stress.

When you are feeling stressed, stop doing things that you don't really need to do. Simplify your life. Don't expect yourself to stay on a normal schedule of three meals a day and sleeping at night. Sleep when your baby does, and eat when you need to. Rearrange your house for convenience and comfort. Attach your baby's crib to your bed so that when he or she wakes up in the middle of the night for a feeding, you can feed him quickly and comfortably from bed. Set up a changing area wherever you'll need it.

Make the space you live in work for your life right now. You can worry about getting your home back to normal when your stress has been reduced and when you have time to care about having people over and having your space the way it used to be. Ask yourself, "does this absolutely have to be done?" Chances are, it doesn't.

Ask others for help. Anyone you can trust and lives anywhere near you will probably be willing to make a meal, bathe your baby, run an errand, take an older child to a movie, clean the kitchen, etc. Community services and other families, too, can be great resources for help.

Ask for the understanding of others, if you're not up to many of the tasks you took on before. You'll be back to your old self again soon, but for now just decline any added pressure of commitments. Take care of yourself when feeling stressed! Your first instinct will probably be to take care of your baby, the house, meals, everyone and everything else before yourself, leaving you feeling fatigued, haggard, frustrated and depressed which can add to your stress.

A better option is to take care of your baby and yourself and to do as little else as possible. You need to eat well and get rest so that you'll be strong enough to be a good mom. One other stress buster is to start exercising again. Just taking one solo 20-minute walk each day can be a great help to you clear your head, get a few lung-fulls of fresh air and prepare yourself for mothering. Leave the house. Socialize. It may be hard to collect yourself, your baby, and the baby gear to leave the house, but do it. It'll be well worth it. You'll be able to maintain your sanity and your energy much better with fresh air and some adult companionship.

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