New Parent Stressors

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Becoming a new parent can be a very stressful time for you, but it doesn't have to be. Here's help for some of the things that can hinder your happy motherhood.

People are crowding around my bed. No, I’m not at home. I’m in the hospital delivery room about to become a new parent with just seconds to go before my delivery begins. I’m excited but anxious; I care too much about what others think and whether or not I’ll hurt their feelings. So, no, I did not yell, “GET OUT!” at them although I wanted to. My mother throws me the puppy dog eyes. I’m one of five children — four girls — and I’m the only one who didn’t want her in my delivery room. I just want my husband and our first moments alone together with our new baby.

Yes, having a baby is a very exciting time but it’s also a time brings stress whether you like it or not. Sometimes, you’ll stress over dumb things, other times important things, but stress is stress. Here are a few stressful scenarios that may come up on your very special delivery day along with tips for handling them smoothly.

Stressor 1. Delivery Room Audience

When the moment comes to head to the hospital, it’s time to activate your “To Call” list, right? But when you do, you just may have family members and friends show up who want to be with you all the way through the delivery … is that what YOU want?

What to do: When you first start talking about your imminent delivery, state up front loudly and clearly (for instance, at your baby shower) who you’ll allow in your delivery room. Pick the right moment to say, “It’s just going to be the two of us in the delivery room when the baby come — but the waiting room holds lots of people!” Also, make your “To Call” list VERY short with just that group you really DO want in the waiting room. Finally, play good cop/bad cop in the delivery room making your husband the bad cop so you can concentrate on the task at hand. When it’s time to deliver and you still have your mom or mother-in-law right by your delivery bed, give him the nod to say, “Alright, it’s time to deliver, please wait in the waiting room.” Even better, get your nurse to tell family and friends that you want your room clear 30 minutes in advance of push time.

Stressor 2. Visitors Galore!

You thought handling the delivery room audience was tough, just wait until you get home! Here comes the family again and lots of others wanting to meet the new baby. You can’t really blame them, but some will show up unannounced and stay well past the “just a second!” visit they say they intend to have. The thing is, you need your rest. This is no time to be playing hostess.

What to do: Put a sign on your door at home and even at the hospital. I made a chalkboard sign for my sister so that she could write a message like “We are sleeping” or “No visitors at this time.” I hung it on her hospital door and told the nurse and her husband that they could write down whatever my sister wanted on it. That way, the only knocks on the door were the nurses coming in for checkups. That sign could also be used at home. Hang it on your front door and another on your bedroom door. That way, if persistent guests manage to worm their way inside your home, they’ll get your message clearly when they stop at the bedroom door.

Stressor 3. Breastfeeding Woes

Trying to get your little one to latch on for the first time can be a very stressful moment for a new mom. Even a lactation specialist at the hospital can make you feel like you’re not doing things right when they witness your attempts. Then you worry if your baby is getting enough to eat, because your supply hasn’t come “in” yet. And, let’s not forget about trying to nurse when visitors are around. It’s a lot of new happening at the same time.

What to do: Remember to breathe. The most important thing you can do is RELAX! And remember, lactation experts are very good at what they do and are simply doing what they do. They want you to be successful at breastfeeding so they observe where you’re “at” with it and help you to learn more in few brief encounters. With my second baby, I was comfortable with my lactation nurse helping to position my baby. Weird at first, but helpful in the end. And, don’t worry if your supply is not in. By nursing your baby often, he’ll get the important pre-milk (the colostrum) before your actual milk arrives. At the hospital, they’ll wake you every three hours to feed your Baby.  If after leaving the hospital you have difficulties with your baby latching on or anything at all pertaining to breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to call your lactation nurse. It’s amazing how helpful it is to speak with someone who knows what’s going on and who can help to soothe your frayed nerves.

Stressor 4. Non-Supportive Visitors

Guess what? Most of your visitors (not all) are there to see the baby and NOT you. When your spouse is at work and you’re home alone with a newborn, it’s tough to get a grip on all the things that need doing. Really, all you should be “doing” is taking care of your infant and yourself. If relatives or friends show up and launch into “you should do this” and “you should do that” it’s time to call a truce.

What to do: Some guests ask what you’re in need of when they come over or even when they call before they come. Don’t hesitate to ask them to pick up some diapers on the way or maybe something for you to eat. Ask away! It’s the only way to get help and support from friends and family when you need it most.

Stressor 5. Stranger Stares

That moment when Baby wails loudly out in public and everyone around you turns to stare. It’s natural for people to want to see where the crying is coming from.

What to do: Ignore them! In fact, pretend they are not there at all. You can handle this. In fact, you can remove yourself from the situation if Baby is inconsolable (short of being in the check-out line at Kroger). Timing your outings with Baby will help you eliminate this particular stressor. Feed Baby before going to the store, etc.

Stressor 6. The Baby Blues

Your body is going through one of the biggest changes it will ever endure and your emotions are along for the ride. An often cheerful and happy-go-lucky woman can turn into a sobbing, irritable new mom after having a baby. This is called The Baby Blues and it’s absolutely 100% normal.

What to do: Before the baby comes, alert your husband and family to the very real truth that your hormones will be a bit out of whack when the baby is here. Call your mom, your best friend and your siblings and get the support you need. Seeking support doesn’t make you an unfit mom — it makes you a FIT mom! It can take some time for your body to get back under control, but you will. And if your baby blues develop into something worse such as post-partum depression, you’ll already have your support team in place and ready to assist you with what you need.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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