Home guest articles How Stress Affects the Health of New Moms

How Stress Affects the Health of New Moms

written by Guest Blogger February 1, 2012

Whether you’re a new mom or not, everyone is affected by stress. This guest post by Bernice Spradlin is a must-read as she shares a few stress management tips using natural means! 

Natural tips on fighting stress—for you and baby

We all suffer from a certain amount of stress in our daily lives, and to a certain extent, stress is a part of normal life. However, if you’re a parent, children can be a handful, especially for new mom’s that are home with baby for the majority of the day.

Stress is actually the body’s physical, mental or emotional reaction to any situational change that requires a response. Events like these all qualify as stressors:

  • A stressful event—i.e., like a crying, fussy child
  • A baby that won’t let you sleep, for instance a baby with cholic
  • Continuous mental or physical strain without relief—i.e., if mom never gets a break
  • A muscle stress that you’ve put on your body—i.e., muscle pain from picking up a child without supporting your lower back
  • A pressing stress that constantly dominates your thoughts—i.e., constant worry over your baby’s well-being
  • A stressful reaction due to a dangerous or frightening situation—i.e., having a child involved in a violent relationship
  • A tense atmosphere—i.e., a single mom worrying about her financial situation on top of caring for a new baby

It’s the effects of long-term, on-going stress (which is called distress) in situations like those listed above that can seriously affect your health, as well as the health of your new baby. For instance, instead of letting a cholicy baby keep you up all through the night, seek advice from your doctor who may prescribe gripe water that can be purchased very cheaply online via almost any Canadian pharmacy.

If moms don’t find effective ways of managing stress in a healthy way, it can manifest itself in the body and mind in the following dangerous ways:

  • Tight chest or chest pains
  • Migraine headaches
  • Stomach upset
  • Digestive upset/gas or bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleeplessness
  • Post-partum depression
  • Muscle soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of drive (to have sex, social withdrawal)
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Over-eating or under-eating/weight gain or loss

And stress only becomes worse when new moms don’t seek or ask for help—and instead look to compulsive, dangerous behaviors like drinking or drug use to ease their anxiety—which keep the body and mind in a traumatic state and can cause further danger both to you and your child.

Natural stress relief tips for moms

1. Walk it off

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends taking 10 minutes after any stressful situation to clear your head and calm down. A brisk walk reduces repetitive stress to the body as it gets a fresh dose of blood pumping to sore muscles. A walk also encourages you to breathe properly, calms down nerves, burns off excess anxiety and actually increases productivity once you return to your baby. If you can’t get out of your home, you can also do home-based exercises to beat stress, like gentle yoga, run on a treadmill, use a stationary bike or just close your eyes and take in a few rounds of deep breathing to slow your heart rate and stress level considerably.

2. Learn to ask for help

Taking on more and more responsibilities—on top of childcare—adds to your stress levels. Everyone needs a break so get in the habit of asking for help when you’re feeling stress. New moms shouldn’t be expected to take on all childcare responsibilities by themselves. Instead, book a babysitter or count on your spouse to look after baby a few nights a week so you can get some exercise or social time. Also, learn to say no if your spouse, family or friends expect too much from you. If you feel too much obligation between childcare and housekeeping, suggest delegating responsibilities by hiring an housekeeper or part time nanny for a few hours a week. This will lessen the pressure on you, allow you a few breaks to rejuvenate and run errands and let you focus doing the best job you can do caring for your child.

3. Look at the bright side

Don’t dwell on the negative; instead adopt a positive attitude. Turn your focus to the positive things in your life, such as how lucky you are to have a family that loves you. Positive thinking helps you stay motivated and confident.

4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Many new moms with ongoing stress literally feel it in their digestive tract. When the brain experiences stress, it interacts with the rest of the body through the nervous system which regulates the digestion of food. A healthy balanced diet, rich in the following essential nutrients, will keep your digestion and your health on track, especially for new mom’s who are burning the candle at both ends:

  • Magnesium: that essential nutrient for muscle health, keeps your heartbeat and sleep patterns regular with foods like milk and cheese; meat and veggie proteins like eggs, fish, seafood and tofu; as well as whole grains, leafy greens and nuts.
  • Amino Acids: regulate mood and brain function as well as fight off stress and mood swings with foods like eggs, meat, fish and beans.
  • B Vitamins: support adrenal function, your nervous system and are your essential nutrients in your fight against stress with foods like salmon, beef liver, broccoli, legumes, lentils, corn, soy, citrus fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds and eggs.
  • Vitamin C: improves immunity, reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, lowers blood pressure and diminishes the negative symptoms of stress on the body due with its antioxidant properties with foods in the citrus family, melon, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, red and green bell peppers, and other green leafy vegetables.

If the stress is already too much—your digestion system may be slow or already compromised. Make an appointment with your doctor to ask about taking prescription medication to treat irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive-related ailments.

5. Celebrate the small things

Take time to reward yourself for a job well done—as a new mom and a spouse. When you have a good day, reward yourself and baby with a treat, like a mom and baby yoga or aquafit class, ice cream for you and a walk for baby, a new book or a massage. Acts in self-caring will keep you a motivated and positive mom.

About the Author

Bernice Spradlin is an avid hiker and runner. She works at a gym in Brooklyn, New York, where she gets great inspiration for her freelance health-related articles and blogs. In her off time, you can often find Bernice jogging the East River path along the waterfront and enjoying the cool breeze. Bernice is currently looking for freelance writing work, and can be contacted at BerniceG.Spradlin@gmail.com.

Do you have any stress-busting tips? And if you’re a new mom, is there any crazy story you’d like to share in how you overcame an especially stressful time following the birth?

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Dr. Terranella February 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thanks for sharing this helpful article for new moms in how they can relieve stress. If is important that new moms take advantage of natural alternative to pain and stress. Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that has been shown to provide significant relief to people suffering from common stress ailments. The actual procedure produces a stress reducing and calming effect for those suffering from headaches. Here is an article that shows how acupuncture can relieve headaches: http://blog.swintegrativemedicine.com/blog/bid/109594/Acupuncture-for-headaches-Acupuncture-treatment. I hope this helps new moms discover other alternative medicines, such as acupuncture, in addition to the helpful tips that you provided.

-Dr. Terranella

Head Health Nutter February 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Thank you for sharing your expert info with us, Dr. Terranella!


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