Everyone knows that stress affects the body. And being a rainbow parent adds a whole new dimension to fears and worries. Parents who are pregnant and parenting after a loss have extra needs for self care as their stress is more pronounced.It can be challenging to cope with that stress.
Stress can affect your sleep, digestion, headaches, motivation, and mental health conditions. Stress lowers your immunity and makes challenging daily situations more intense.
Pregnancy and bringing your newborn home may offer some new challenges and many blessings. The stress of strangers asking you personal questions and feeling out of control in your own rapidly changing body can be a very real challenge. Bringing a new baby home to feed, diaper, and care for is yet another challenge. No matter how well prepared you are there is always something unexpected to deal with.
For these reasons and many others, it is critical for both parents to take care of themselves. Take some down time to listen to your body so that you can understand its needs. Then you can take steps to take better care of yourself so that you can take care of your little one and partner.
Here are some tips for handling stress in your rainbow pregnancy and postpartum periods:
Reach out for professional help as needed.
A professional therapist trained in perinatal mood disorders may be just what you need. They can help you to work through the stress and find a better way to deal with your challenges. Often times, therapy is sufficient, but medications are also available with treatment for more severe cases. Medications can ease anxiety and depression and help promote sleep.
Find some down time to relax.
Everyone needs an opportunity to unwind daily. Find a technique or two that works for you. Some of our clients choose to jam out to music, journal, draw, take a bubble bath, do deep breathing exercises, mediate, practice yoga, go for a walk, read a book, make a cup of tea, or pet a family pet.
Sleep time is critical for your body to heal, make milk, and stay healthy. However, it can be challenging with restless legs, night sweats, newborn cries, and insufficient planning. Plan to get seven or more hours of sleep nightly. When home try and get off your feet when the baby sleeps. Rest if you cannot nap, but use this quiet time to refuel your body.
Fuel your body.
It is impossible to grow your baby, heal your body, and nurse your baby without careful attention to your diet. Simple and non-processed foods and fluids are often times overlooked for quick easy fast food. Plan and food shop strategically. Buy food in their natural states and eat them with the least amount of cooking so that they hold more nutrients. Take the time to make lunch and healthy snacks. Eat all the colors of the rainbow so that you get all the necessary vitamins. Your body and baby will thank you for it. See Choose My Plate for recommendations.
Get moving and off the couch.
Physical activity helps fetal alignment and making birth less painful, it reduces muscles stiffness, and it helps your mood too! The endorphins you release while working out relieve stress and will improve your mood. Take it easy right after birth but know exercise is your friend.
Contact your friends and family.
Reach out for help. They can be great listeners over the phone or in person. They remind you that you are not alone and just may be able to help you with a different point of view, a referral, or hands-on assistance.
Figure out what you need to do and what you can really accomplish. There are only so many hours in the day. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Be strategic in your choices and arguments. Let go of things you cannot change and work on those that are important.
Think about how to maximize your effort.
When can you get the most done in your day with the least amount of effort? Here are some examples for you:
- Walking at lunch time with a friend to get a salad is a full move allowing you to exercise, communicate, and fuel your body.
- Walking during a conference call.
- Squatting each time, the phone rings at work.
Simple changes can have wonderful compounding effects when you plan for them.