Motherhood is one of the most important if not the most important job on the planet. You are carrying another life inside of you. Who knows what that life will become? Right now they are filled with potential (and you with gas) but one day they will show how you shaped their life.
These are some of the thoughts that may be going through a mum’s mind before her child is born. These are all lovely illusions of how it will be when the baby is finally here. Unfortunately, life has a habit of not living up to our expectations.
Children don’t come with instruction manuals. This means that parents have to do things the hard way – one pulled-out hair at a time. Babies are still beautiful but the reality of raising a newborn can be quite stressful. Let’s face it; even the most easy-going woman can turn into a tightly coiled spring ready to strike after the first few weeks.
Stress is a part of the new mum’s life, but it can be tempered with a few tips on how to relax. The best part is that you can relax and relieve stress without spending a penny. Yes, there are no-cost ways to get the relaxation that you seek one day at a time.
If you are still pregnant, this report will hopefully become helpful to you in the weeks and months ahead. For new mums, you may be clutching this in the bathroom, trying to find a few moments of peace and quiet. Either way, don’t stop reading.
First, learn the ways that new mums are stressed. It is not just the crying that can bring about a fast heartbeat or lack of sleep.
Secondly, learn the ways that you can fight back against your stress, one creative way at a time. Stress management can help you put your life in perspective so you can enjoy your time with baby and away from baby. And, don’t forget that handsome spouse of yours. He figures into this as well. But, we’ll get to that more later.
CAUSES OF NEW MUM STRESS
What is getting your goat these days? You have given birth to the most beautiful little thing in the world but you can’t seem to stop crying. Worst that that, you could be hiding from your baby.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are just experiencing what new motherhood is like. It isn’t glamorous but it can be fulfilling if you learn what is leading to your stress level.
What is stress anyway? It is our response to a danger. Have you ever heard of the fight or flight response? When you are in danger, your body goes through changes. Your pupils dilate and adrenalin runs through your system, bringing increased blood flow to your muscles.
In this case, you don’t want to run from your baby. But, the response in the body is just the same when your anxiety level rises. So, what is causing it?
Lack of Sleep
Most new mothers can count on one finger how many hours of sleep they get each night. Babies are new to this world. They went from being in a dark cozy warm place to being under bright lights where it is cold and loud. Who can blame them for crying all the time?
For mums, we need more than a few hours of sleep at a time to feel our best. Without proper rest we can feel the effects of sleep deprivation more keenly. This could mean eating poorly or not at all. We cry for seemingly no reason and we can get sick easier because our immunity is down.
Anxiety over Baby’s Safety
Do you find yourself walking in baby’s room to check on them more than once each night? Maybe you’ve read about cot death or you just want to know that baby is breathing. This kind of anxiety can lead to a lack of sleep even if you have the chance to get some shuteye.
You may feel that before you were a mum, you had a life and a job. Now, you could be debating whether you will go back to your career or stay home with your child. You may be feeling guilty about wanting to go back to work. It can tie you up in knots to decide to leave your baby in the care of others to pursue your career again.
There are only 24 hours in a day but even that doesn’t seem long enough when you have a ton of things to do. Babies need constant attention which doesn’t leave much time for cooking, cleaning, bathing or even sleeping. How can a mother accomplish it all each day?
The truth is that she can’t, but she may still try to be superwoman because she is a mother and that’s what we do. Trying to keep up with such a demanding pace can take its toll on our sanity and our bodies.
A new baby is a handful physically and financially. Now there are other considerations to make: child care, clothing and college. They advise that we prepare for University once a baby is born but chances are that all you can concentrate on is being able to afford what you need right now.
Another financial worry is wanting to stay home but not being able to due to the need for a two-person income. It can be a daunting situation. Finances are not the easiest to figure out in the best of times. Worry about your family’s future can wear you out.
No Time for Spouse
You are both parents now, but before that you were husband and wife. When baby comes, it can be easy to forget that point. Husbands and wives can become roommates or baby caregivers rather than friends and lovers.
For a new mum, feeling ‘frisky’ may be the farthest thing from your mind. It’s hard to get in the mood when baby is crying all the time. On top of that, when you haven’t bathed in two days and your hair looks like you just went ten rounds with Mike Tyson, you probably feel anything but beautiful.
They told you that you were eating for two, but all of that baby weight didn’t just disappear when your precious child was born. Carrying around extra pounds can be stressful. You want to exercise but can’t find the time or you don’t feel up to it, especially if you’ve had a c-section. Feeling unattractive to your spouse and also to yourself can lead to stress each and every time you look in the mirror.
Anxiety over Baby Skills
How good are your baby skills? Who knows, but since that child didn’t come with instructions, you will have to rely on your available resources. That might be your parents and your instinct that you develop each day as a new mum.
When baby cries and you’ve tried everything, it can bring you to your knees, but it will pass and you will get better at what you are doing. Stress can make it seem like your inexperience will never end.
No Time for Yourself
The last person on the list that gets a break is you. You want to be with your baby all the time to make sure they are okay. But at the same time you want to get back to feeling like yourself.
Free time seems to be a myth as every available minute seems to be spent caring or cleaning or cooking or even crying. Without time for yourself you will go crazy and it will be a short trip.
Do any of these causes of new mum stress sound familiar? More than likely they do. Each and every mum has experienced one or two or six of these feelings at some point. Don’t be ashamed. Now that you know what is making you bite your nails, cry your eyes out and get mad at everyone who is smiling, you can find ways to do something about it.
WAYS TO RELAX – MONEY FREE
The best thing about the following ideas is that you don’t have to drop a penny to do them. Many of the activities you may already perform but not in a way that is relaxing. Since one of your stressors may be financial issues, we can take that out of the equation and ease your mind right now. Shall we proceed?
This is kind of like a method of low-cost therapy. There is only the journal to buy but that will pay for itself in no time. You can find a simple one at the supermarket. But, most women have at least one just sitting around the house that she can use.
What do you talk about? Hash out your feelings, vent about your spouse, talk about the baby or an entirely different subject. The readings are for your eyes only and you may never read them again after you put your thoughts on paper. But, it is a way to silently release the pressure in your head for your own comfort. It is not required to be written in every day, but try to get into a routine so you look forward to letting go of troublesome thoughts.
New mums often complain about being held hostage in their own home. If it is fresh air that you seek, step outside. In fact, try it early in the morning while dad and baby are still asleep. Throw on some comfortable clothing and get out into the sunlight.
Take a brisk walk. First thing in the morning, it can clear your head for the day ahead. Stroll around the neighborhood or simply sit on the front porch and watch the sun come up. You can even do this walk with baby is he or she is awake. Sometimes, the regular rhythm of movement will lull them back to sleep.
Listen to Music
Mostly we are told to listen to soothing music. That’s great. A soft steady beat can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and increase your wellbeing.
Let’s try another approach. What about listening to some oldies but goodies? Think about the songs that you loved when you were a kid. Load your iPod with those tunes. Every time you listen to them your mind will be flooded with happy and sometimes funny memories. Each can bring a fine smile to your face.
Don’t just listen to soothing music; get the beat going. Mix it up so you can reminisce if you want, but shake a leg too.
Watch a Funny Movie
Whoever thinks about watching a comedy? Many movies these days are dramas that can only make you feel worse if you are stressed already. Instead, pop in a funny movie with your favorite actor. Why not a cartoon if that makes you laugh?
Laughter is the best medicine. It increases the levels of endorphins in the body. It also triggers release of neurotransmitters like dopamine that improve your mood. Choose a good side-splitting movie to make you laugh until you shed tears. Now don’t you feel better?
Pursue a Favorite Hobby
This time of maternity leave is a time of opportunity as well. Has there been something that you have wanted to do for a while? It could be a hobby of sorts. Now is the time to get going with it.
Doing something that you like to do makes you happy. When you have a moment and baby is sleep, pull out your supplies and get creating. If you are an artist, paint your masterpieces. If you like crafting, create something beautiful.
Hobbies have beneficial health effects, they work to lower blood pressure, your mind stays focused on the task at hand, blocking out everything that was bothering you before.
Take a Relaxing Bath
Who says that you can’t bring the spa home with you? First of all, take a bath at night. If you have tried to tire baby out at night, this is the best time to have moments to take a bath. Use relaxation scents like lavender and chamomile and French vanilla.
Don’t forget the bubble bath. Allow yourself to soak and enjoy the warm water. Light candles to bring a stress-free atmosphere to the room. Imagine you are in a faraway place with not a care in the world.
Sing Out Loud
Sometimes you just want to scream when things get hectic. Well, instead of screaming, begin to sing. It’s the same principle except you are making beautiful music. Sing forcefully and loudly (You might have to go outside for this or in the bathroom). Let your frustrations roll out with the words and the music.
Write a Letter
Write a letter to your child. This will be a sort of written journal to them. Tell them what you see in them that day. When your child is older, you can pass the letters on to them as a reminder of their childhood.
You can even scrapbook using those precious letters. Create a keepsake for yourself if you want.
Get a Massage
We are not talking about spending money. Ask our hubby to act as masseur for a day. He can work all the stress knots out of your body. Many people carry their stress in their neck and shoulders. A simple ten or fifteen minute massage will do wonders for your stress level.
If you can get your hubby alone and baby is asleep, make the most of it. Sex is a great stress reliever. And, you can make the first steps towards renewing intimacy with your spouse. Besides, having a few stolen moments may be fun. It might remind you of when you first got together.
Choose an exercise that you like and will stick with. Best of all, you can do this with baby in tow. Choose a jog stroller for walking or running. It is less jarring on your body.
If you can’t get to the gym, don’t worry about it. Use an exercise video at home or the exercise channel. For a weight training segment, use baby as your weight.
Gently cup baby in both hands for bicep curls. Place him on your legs for weighted leg lifts. You will get about eight pounds of resistance and baby gets a little bit of play time.
Another idea is to join a mum and baby exercise class. Doing something, with your baby, can help decrease your stress level as you bond even more.
Change Your Appearance
When you are stressed, it’s the little things that can make the most difference. For instance, cut your hair. Many new mums don’t have time to curl or style their hair. Get yourself a short hairdo. Now your hair is easier to manage each day. It is one less thing you have to think about in the morning.
List the Goals of Motherhood – Year One
Every mum can’t be a supermum. Cut yourself some slack. It is hard to take care of baby, home and job. Create an empowering list of short-term goals to achieve.
For instance, list that you want to wash the dishes once a week. That could be ambitious for a new mom. Another could be to take a bath each day before noon. When you set goals that are within your power to achieve, you begin to feel better about what you are already doing.
So, what do you think? You know what stress a new mum faces. It is easier to understand why you feel the way that you do when you know what is causing the anxiety.
Then, you can find ways to put that stress in proper perspective. Use your imagination. Don’t just stick to traditional stress-relieving tips. Have fun with it. And, you did it all for free.
1 lb good-quality pork sausages
½ lb bacon, diced
½ lb onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 oz mushrooms
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper
Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and brown the sausages, then remove from pan. Add the bacon, onion and garlic and cook until the bacon pieces are nicely browned. Sprinkle with flour and stir well. Then add the wine, sausages, thyme, bay leaf and season well. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce temperature, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms in a small frying pan with a bit of oil and add to the sausage mixture. Continue cooking until the casserole is piping hot and the sausages are cooked through
3 seedless mandarins (tangerines, satsumas or clementines), segmented
1 mandarin, juiced
4 tbsp water
5 oz sugar
Mix the water with the sugar in a microwaveable bowl and cook on High for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is golden and bubbling hot. Carefully remove the hot bowl from the microwave and stir in the mandarin juice. The mixture is really hot and bubbling, so watch out when handling it.
Add the mandarin segments and stir well. Serve immediately with vanilla yogurt and if to hand, with a piece of lemon loaf.
2 pears, cut into chunks and frozen
2 bananas, cut into slices and frozen
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 cup apple juice
Dash of nutmet
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Sprinkle with nutmeg and enjoy.
Serves 4 – 5
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 glove garlic, finely chopped
Handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 (24 oz) jar of good quality spaghetti sauce
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 lb Penne pasta
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and sauté onion and garlic until tender. Add the meat and brown. Drain the excess fat. Then add cooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms and half the Parmesan cheese. Mix well and spoon into a ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until hot.
Serve immediately with a tossed salad.
Serves about 6
2 beets, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 tbsp vinegar
4 cups vegetable stock
2 oz margarine or butter
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
In a saucepan, melt the margarine/butter and sauté the onion for a few minutes. Then add the beets and carrot and cook for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, vinegar, sugar, tomato puree, dill and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread.
4 oz margarine
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz rolled oats
4 oz desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
In a saucepan, melt the margarine and stir in the sugar until melted. Add the oats and coconut and stir until well combined.
Press the mixture into a lightly greased tin and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes.
This makes a delicious lunchbox treat for your children.
1 ½ cups cooked rice
1 ½ cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cranberries
1 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp cocoa powder (ideally unsweetened)
Use a double boiler for this recipe.
Bring some water to a boil in the bottom part of the double boiler, then reduce the heat and simmer. Place the cooked rice, vanilla extract, cranberries, margarine, sugar and cocoa into the top pan of the double boiler and stir well. Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes or until creamy and thick. Stir occasionally.
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
4 oz rice noodles
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 tbsp frozen peas
4 green onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Add the chicken stock into a saucepan, together with the chicken, garlic and ginger. Bring stock to a boil, then quickly reduce temperature and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the stock and cut into chunks. Then return the chicken pieces to the saucepan and add the peas, mushrooms, green onions and noodles. Stir in the soy sauce and simmer until the noodles are soft.
Sprinkle with basil leaves and enjoy immediately.
1 lb dried apricots, pre-soaked in water
1 ½ oz brown sugar
4 oz ground almonds
4 oz sugar
6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
4 oz butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
In a small saucepan, cook dried apricots in some water until soft.
Place sliced apples and cooked apricots into a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle with brown sugar. Mix well.
Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, mix the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until well combined, then fold in the ground almonds. Spread this mixture over the fruit and bake in the oven for about 45minutes to 1hour.
Eat hot with vanilla ice-cream.