This blog is a collaboration of real Mommy’s Bliss moms and dads based on our real experiences as parents who’ve been there.
Stress and anxiety. Two little words that seem to always go hand in hand. Especially during that, as we call it, blissfully challenging first year after baby. The challenge is real and so is the stress, the anxiety, and the new life you’ve been handed. Remember you’ve just done something amazing, and a bit of stress is, unfortunately, par for the blissful course.
And most importantly, forget everything you pictured – the perfect tidy home, the showered and glossed up version of you, and the baby who sleeps and eats like a champ - and embrace the reality of what life looks like now. There is no one size fits all formula for this chapter, so even when the sun is shining outside and it seems that everyone feels better than you do, remember this too shall pass. You’ll get that shower, and the sun will come out again. Exhaustion, pain, feelings of being overwhelmed, stress, and anxiety are all normal feelings, and with a bit of help, they will pass.
Let’s read on for helpful tips to revive, survive, and destress. Our Mommy’s Bliss 360 moms have been there. And with a bit of advice, friendship, and heartfelt stories, you’ll soon say “I’ve been there too.” Past tense. Remember, put on your oxygen mask first…and then help others.
Tips for Handling Anxiety and Stress for Postnatal Mom's
Unwind. It sounds simple but it may, in reality, become challenging to find even a moment to do the things you used to do. Schedule this time much like you schedule baby’s nap, pumping, and feedings. Even spending half an hour each evening doing something you enjoy – cooking, watching tv, soaking in a hot bath, or meditating, can help you refocus on “you” and relieve a bit of stress.
See other people! Even if it doesn’t sound appealing, in the moment, other moms, friends, family, or even your fur babies can help alleviate stress and give you a sounding board, adult conversation, and a laugh (or dog smooch) or two. Even if it’s a facetime call, or family Zoom, it’s amazing what these small connections can do to help stress, anxiety, and help refill your temporarily depleted tank.
Make time for your partner, if you have one. While it feels like the last thing you should have to “schedule” it’s important to prioritize this all-important relationship. Remember, they’re likely going through it too.
Accept help. Don’t be shy. We guarantee, others are at the ready, and really do want to help. Enlist a friend or family member to bring a meal, babysit briefly (get a manicure!), or ask them to pick up something you may need at the store. Return the favor when you can. Asking for help not your strength? Check out How to Find Postpartum Support & Ask for Help by one of our Mommy’s Bliss experts for some tips.
Breathe. Sounds simple. And it is. But there are some days when we just don’t take the time for mindful things like breathing in and out. Nourishing breath helps the body exhale, as well as the mind. Try breathing exercises, or simply take the time to inhale deeply and slowly. The body will react immediately to this easy self-care essential.
Try this quick and easy breathing exercise.
Simply find a quiet spot on a chair or cushion and find a comfortable position with your spine erect and set a timer for two minutes. Close your eyes and place your hands in a comfortable position in your lap. Breathe slowly through your nostrils focusing on each breath, noticing and listening to the in and out sound. Notice your stomach rise on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Slowly release each breath and be aware as it exits your body. If you are distracted by thoughts or noises, try to let the distraction go and focus solely on your breathing...and your two minutes. Be persistent and gentle. After practice, it will be easier to block out distractions and return to a place where breathing is all that matters. When the timer goes off, open your eyes but continue to focus on your breathing for a few more breaths before getting up.
Talk to a professional. If stress and anxiety feel overwhelming or are not subsiding, a doctor, midwife, or childcare expert can help. It’s important, and ok, to reach out. There are so many ways, from mommy groups, to therapists, or possibly medication, if prescribed, to help ease the pain of stress and anxiety.
Exercise. A short walk, yoga, even pushing the baby stroller, releases endorphins; the body’s natural stress-reliever. Doesn’t have to be much, just try to move your body and replace negative feelings with positive ones. There’s a reason why Mother Nature starts with “mother”. She knows the value of blue sky, fresh air, and the great outdoors. Exhale away that stress, if only for a few moments.
Eat well. While it’s tempting to grab the “to-go” menu and load up on easy, comfortable food, your stress levels respond well to proper nutrition. Fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and lots of water, all fuel your body, so your body can pass on the news to your mind. You’ll feel better too knowing you’re fueling yourself with the very best things to keep you strong, healthy, and hydrated.
Our very own Mommy’s Bliss moms were not immune to postpartum stress and anxiety, and they are here to share their non-candy-coated experiences, tips, and heartfelt stories about what’s real, and what was challenging for them – and more importantly – how they dealt with all of it.
Mommy's Bliss Advice From Real Moms
“What made me anxious was the thought of anything bad happening to my baby. Any odd noise they would make while sleeping, being too quiet while sleeping, scary thoughts of how they can get hurt or someone can hurt them. The scary thoughts still come up for me, but now I know that it’s common and I tend to exaggerate situations in my mind at times. This anxiety definitely got better with time.”
“Returning to work gave me a lot of mom guilt, which caused me stress. I dealt with it by setting aside short spurts of quality time with my daughter throughout the day where I read or play with her. Additionally, it helped that my husband was on paternity leave, so it was nice to know our baby was in good hands while I was away.
The one thing that really made me anxious during the first few months was making sure I was pumping and storing enough extra breastmilk for later use. I am a natural planner, so I knew when I returned to work, I wanted my baby to have enough milk in anticipation. Making sure I stayed hydrated throughout the day and eating well (and enough) helped ease my anxiety as well. I learned that if I felt good and taken care of, anxiety had a harder time creeping in. During the first 4-6 months, I mainly stressed about timing naps perfectly so that by bedtime she was actually sleepy. The main reason I stressed about this was that I valued the short time my husband and I had to connect and feel like a normal human being again. Establishing a good nap routine and sticking to a schedule no matter what, helped ease my anxiety surrounding bedtime. Overall, knowing that I have a husband who is more than capable of taking care of our daughter, was a huge relief.”
“More like ‘what didn’t give me ‘mom guilt’ and cause me stress and anxiety?” Returning to work was difficult for me because it was hard for me to trust a person, aside from my husband, especially during a pandemic. It really helped that after a few weeks, I saw how much that person loved and cared for my baby. It’s an on-going challenge. I still have hard, stressful days when I need to remind myself of this.”
“I'm 6 years post-partum and just recently heard separation anxiety mentioned for MOM ! I always thought of separation anxiety experienced by baby and toddler - but in retrospect, this was totally me. I did not fear for my child’s safety when in others' care (although this is a real fear for others) but just the idea of not being near him created unexplained panic-like feelings. This got in the way of me creating some me-time and further developing a "village" when already challenged with family living out of state. As my child got older, this separation anxiety improved because I knew he could communicate better - but it's not totally gone. I suspect it will be well into college age that parents still feel anxious when they can’t see their kids. My son is 6 years old in a month and going on a little pumpkin patch field trip while my husband and I go somewhere else that day. It's the first time BOTH of his parents will be more than 60 miles away from him and I'm anxious about it.... but this time, I'm connecting with teacher and chaperones, so they know how I feel and help me by sending pictures.”
“I had lots of stress and anxiety around making things perfect and trying to do it all. This was virtually impossible, but I tried. Once I realized it really didn’t matter and that things would get done when they got done, I felt much better. It’s not easy for a new mom and Virgo to watch laundry pile up, dust bunnies multiply, and beds go unmade, but I literally had to “let it go.” I’m not saying it was easy, but I would take my baby on short hikes in the Baby Bjorn and guess what? I couldn’t see the mess.
Also, once I let go of the dream of breastfeeding after countless challenges, I exhaled away so much stress. Everyone’s postpartum journey really does look different, and guilt is, quite simply, useless. As long as your baby is happy and healthy, do it your way. That’s my two cents. A cup of tea and a hot bath helped too.”
“What caused me stress? Believe it or not, other people holding my baby. Oddly, the only two people I trusted to hold him were my husband and my dad. It even bothered me when my mom or my MIL held him, lol. When my baby slept, I considered it a break and I tried to take it, but I also checked on him every 30 seconds to make sure he was breathing. I was also stressed out by germs. I was so afraid he would get sick before he had his first set of vaccines, so I didn’t take him anywhere. No public places for the first 2 months. I started taking him for walks in the stroller around month three.
Breastfeeding stress definitely took its toll because I didn’t know how much breastmilk he was getting, and he was not properly latching. It was also very hard on me physically and emotionally. I finally waved the white flag at 3 weeks and was less stressed knowing he was getting enough breastmilk via bottle, and I wasn’t hurting physically.
My mother-in-law and extended family members were constantly asking for pictures, and I felt like I was barely surviving each day – and to be asked consistently for pictures got irritating.
I managed my stress and anxiety by talking to friends who already had babies. Acknowledgement from them that the first 3 months are HARD and getting reassurance that things truly do get better after 8 weeks.
Friends coming over to make a meal – that was the BEST pampering I could ask for. I wish someone had told me I was doing a good job during that first month. My mother-in-law and father-in-law came to visit at around month two and they did tell me I was doing a good job. It made me feel supported and reassured me that I wasn’t failing at this new “job”.”
Just knowing that stress and anxiety are par for this blissfully challenging course, can set your expectations in a helpful way. With proper nutrition, help, friendship, and an elusive moment of pampering, stress and anxiety can become manageable, or at least a bit better. At Mommy’s Bliss 360, we’re here for you -and never hesitate to reset, recharge, and rebalance with a little extra help from Mommy’s Bliss Postnatal Support products. From lactation support to supplements that lift your mood and support your body as it heals. You are not alone. Doesn’t that feel better already? Rhetorical.
This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.