Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Moms Need Love, Too

by Dr. Barrie Morganstein

As a new mom, I am learning firsthand how hard it is to take care of a baby and take care of myself (not to mention also taking care of a husband and a dog). I have always been notoriously bad at getting to bed at a reasonable hour and my baby’s arrival has made it even worse. With our little bundles depending on us, our good health is even more important; here are some things that new moms can do to manage stress and feel good:

· Get out of the house. After my baby was born, I stayed in the house a lot. Although I needed the rest and recuperation, I definitely found myself going stir-crazy. Getting out of the house -- whether its outside for fresh air or to the mall -- will do a lot to lift your spirits and invigorate you.

· Get some exercise. As hard as it is to get up off the couch and as tired as you are, get moving. Walking slowly on the treadmill, doing a light yoga class, or even just stretching in your living room, moving your body will make you feel better physically and mentally.

· Keep in contact with friends. It can be helpful to speak to your friends and commiserate about your new parenting trials and tribulations. However, it can be just as helpful to simply talk about girl-stuff. Being a mom is just one of our many roles, so we may find pleasure in discussing things other than the kids (such as what happened on The Real Housewives of New York).

· Don’t be afraid to say “no”. We often try to be superheroes and take on too many obligations. The added strain and fatigue that comes with baby care makes you more vulnerable to stress and emotional overload. Nicely explain to others why you are not able to take on a certain project – supportive people will understand.

· Ask for help. Women are capable of a lot, but even Wonder Woman had a sidekick (not to mention help from the rest of the Justice League). Don’t be afraid to ask your Superman for help with whatever you need, whether it be baby’s bedtime, laundry, bills, etc.

· Remind yourself what a great job you are doing. We are often our worst critics; chances are you are not only keeping up with your new babe, but excelling in your new role.

· Get help if you need it. If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, talk to someone. Let your significant other, family member, or friends, know that you need some extra encouragement. A psychologist or counselor can also be a valuable addition to your support-network. 

Dr. Barrie Morganstein is a psychologist and new mom at Southeast Psych.  You can contact her at 704-552-0116.