25 Ways to Handle the Stress of a New Baby
Bring some calm to the chaos with first-year survivor strategies that work.
Working In a Workout
Everyone knows exercise is good for stress. But just exactly how do you manage to get a good workout, when you've got so much to do taking care of a baby?
19. Rethink Your Routine
Fitness expert Kathy Smith, creator of the exercise DVD Tummy Trimmers, is the mother of two daughters. "The first year is very disruptive to your schedule," Smith says. "It's physically and emotionally demanding. It's really a time to nurture the baby and yourself, not to add the extra burden of getting back into shape."
Smith says new moms can "think outside the box." You can do pelvic or isometric exercises while you cook or abdominal contractions while you nurse. "A pre-dinner walk with spouse and baby," she says, "sets the tone as a family for a lifetime of exercise."
20. Exercise With Baby
It seems counterintuitive, but when you're dead tired, exercise can boost your energy. Try Mommy and Me swim or yoga classes. Get outside into the sunshine -- a guaranteed mood enhancer. Take your baby for a walk or a run in the jog stroller or on a hike with a front pack. Just always protect your baby from the sun’s harmful rays.
21. Work Out In Short Bursts
Daniel Iverson, a dad and personal trainer, says you can stretch or do squats when you are diapering your baby -- up to 10 times daily -- for a fitness boost. "When the child is old enough to see you, you can do squats with an overhead 'baby' press. As the baby gets heavier, your muscles adapt to lifting the progressively heavier child. It's like dumbbells that grow."
22. Spread Your Workouts Throughout the Day
Smith points out, "Exercise is cumulative. So 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes at night add up and boost metabolism." She recommends strapping baby into a front pack and jumping on the stationary bike or treadmill. "The motion often puts baby to sleep -- an added bonus."
23. Exercise in the Evening
Jennifer Walker, RN, co-author of The Moms on Call Guide to Basic Baby Care, likes evening exercise. "Babies have a certain amount of energy that they have to expend before settling down for that long stretch of nighttime sleep. In the inevitable evening fussy time, take them on a stroll or exercise with them."
24. Find a Gym With Child Care
Many places accept babies as young as 12 weeks; the sooner you go, the more comfortable you and baby will be in that environment.
25. Maintain Perspective
Remember, this phase will pass -- all too quickly as most parents attest. Donald Martelli, a father and vice president of a public relations firm, says, "Have patience; the joys of having children far outweigh the stresses."