new mom stress management

New moms are always told that being a new mom is a stressful time. At DayOne Baby, our mission is to help expecting and parents with this transition. We are delighted to offer a new workshop about stress management.

Stress is an inevitable part of life and in our new workshop Stress Management for New Moms facilitated by Dr. Jenna Carl, Ph.D., she will invite moms to learn about the good and not-so good aspects of stress, explore common causes of stress for new moms, and introduce practical skills for stress management.

Topics explored:

  • Break down why stress is a part of our lives and explore the good and bad types of stress.
  • Share common stressors for new moms and how to manage them
  • Examine new moms’ thought and behavior patterns that increase stress
  • Empower moms with proven skills to make changes to reduce stress


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a licensed psychologist (PSY28619) who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for stress, anxiety, and depression with a special focus on women’s health. I trained at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and in the Women’s Primary Care Clinic at the VA Palo Alto.

I am passionate about helping people improve their emotional health and well-being, and in particular, supporting and empowering women during developmental transitions that often bring on stress and other unique challenges. I have a private practice in downtown SF where I provide individual therapy to adults, and I also offer talks and trainings on managing stress, anxiety, and depression, and improving overall emotional health.


Why do new moms get “stressed”?

Becoming a mother is one of the most stressful experiences that women go through because it produces so many changes across all areas of life and physical and emotional functioning. In a survey of new moms, Ledley (2009) found that most common sources of stress are:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Loneliness
  • Breastfeeding
  • Dealing with crying
  • Loss of independence and feelings of inadequacy
  • Worry about being a good mom and fears something bad happening to the baby
  • Sense of identity loss and change
  • Imbalance of responsibility on the mom versus dad and relationship changes
  • Unwanted advice
  • Changes in one’s body and sexuality


How is it different than other stressful times in life?

Stress is challenging whenever it occurs in life, however, there are key reasons it can be especially difficult for new moms. First – sleep deprivation! Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to stress and is an especially salient factor for new moms. Second, there are many significant physical changes associated with changes in hormonal functioning, physical recovery from delivery, and breastfeeding that can exacerbate emotional stress. Lastly, the stress management techniques you may have relied on before having a baby, such as exercise, yoga/meditating, and spending quality time with your partner or friends, can be difficult to accomplish as a new mom. For all of these reasons, the stress of new motherhood can feel especially challenging compared with other times in your life.


How can you tell if you are stressed?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, agitated or irritable, or having insomnia, physical tension, heart racing/chest pain, headaches or upset stomach over a period of time, you are likely stressed. These symptoms are a great indicator to reach out and get help.


What are some things that happen when you are stressed?

Stress serves as a signal to our body that there is a threat in the environment for which we need to be prepared. When we feel stressed our bodies release a cascade of stress hormones designed to help us prepare for and defend against a threat. These hormones change our physiological functioning in a variety of ways that are advantages in situations of immediate danger, however, over longer periods of time activation of the stress system can cause additional problems and create a vicious spiral of symptoms that makes us feel worse. Chronic stress can lead to physical health problems and sickness, difficulties concentrating and making decisions, as well as to the development of insomnia, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.


What are a few simple things you can do when you are stressed?

Although there are many helpful tools for managing stress, three of the simplest tools are:

  • Have a go-to relaxation strategy that you use when you feel tense or stressed.
  • One fast, easy one is 4-7 count breathing, which slows your stress response and helps you relax. Count to 4 on the inhale, and 7 on the exhale. Do this for 2-5 minutes or until you start feeling relaxed.
  • Prepare a compassionate statement that you will remind yourself in tough moments
    • It’s ok not to be perfect
    • Everything is a phase, this will get easier
    • I am not alone – other moms are struggling with these same issues
    • I don’t have to do everything by myself, it’s ok to ask for help
    • This is normal even though it is really hard
    • Plan ahead for ways you can take care of yourself
    • Try to arrange for breaks for self-care (showers, walks, exercise, social time)
    • Prioritize time with friends that you can talk to honestly and make you feel better
    • Identify specific triggers of stress and problem-solve how to handle them with your partner


Want to learn more? Join us Monday, September 19 at 12:00pm for Stress Management here.

Learn more about Dr. Jenna Carl, PhD. on here website here.

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