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Health & Baby

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Baby-Proof Your Sanity: 6 Parenting Tips

3. Take Personal Time

Quality time away from your child is just as important as quality time with your child, says Jerrold Lee Shapiro, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and chairman of the department of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University. "You have to nurture yourself so you're not running on fumes," he tells WebMD. What qualifies as quality time? "Working out, walking, reading a book, sitting down with a close friend... It can be almost anything that relaxes and centers you, and takes you away from the immediacy of someone else's needs."

Psychologist Arthur Kovacs, PhD, stresses that your own needs don't disappear when you have a baby. "Every human has three critical needs -- solitude, human warmth and companionship, and the need to feel productive, that one is making use of one's talents. If you're a conscientious parent, you may forget about this. But it's important to spend at least a few hours a week on something other than changing diapers."

4. Accept Help

Stein tells WebMD that women who have insufficient help may feel overwhelmed by "the daily, unrelenting chores of new motherhood." She says this can increase the risk of postpartum depression. For a less stressful adjustment to life with a baby, "family should be encouraged to help, and paid help should also be considered."

Wishner says, in addition to accepting food from neighbors and friends, she devised a few shortcuts to reduce chore time. "I'm not one who likes to do a lot of laundry, so I have enough clothes and sheets to last me two weeks."

5. Maintain a Social Life

"It is too easy to become focused at an infant or toddler level of interaction and stop being an adult," Shapiro says. Making plans with other adults, particularly new parents who understand what you are going through, can prevent feelings of isolation and give you an emotional support system.

Wishner says she finds it helpful to spend time with other first-time moms she met through a prenatal yoga class. "We get together at least weekly and do [mother-baby] classes and stay busy," she tells WebMD. She adds that she benefits not just from receiving support, but from providing it as well. "It helps me to feel needed, knowing that these women who are new friends look to me for support."

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