Being a parent is extremely rewarding, but it is also challenging, especially at first. Dealing with daily life changes as you learn to care for your baby can take a lot of energy, commitment, and patience. A newborn baby brings a whirlwind of activity and excitement in your life, but with all of that new joy and firsts, comes stress.
Here at Rooted Family Wellness Centre, we have created a welcoming and safe space where you can build a partnership with our counsellors to help you through every step of the adjustment process and further support your mental health. Below you will find some tips for common stressor that can happen around this time of the year with a new baby.
The holiday season can undoubtedly be a special time for parents, as it brings an increased sense of expectations. You may find yourself scrambling to carry on family traditions, travelling back and forth to visit family and friends, hurdling financial stress, and trying to juggle the new obstacles of caring for a newborn at the same time.
When we are in the beginning stages of creating/growing a new family, increased expectations come from ourselves and those around us.
When feeling this stress, it is a time to reflect on our values and what we are looking for. If we can step back from all the ribbons and bows and consider what we are looking for or what will make beautiful memories and moments, we can start to strip away those expectations causing more stress.
In terms of stress and stress management, it can be helpful to re-evaluate your expectations with regard to holiday stress. What are you telling yourself you "should do" this holiday season, and how realistic is your list of should's? What can you do this holiday season? It can be helpful to watch how you speak to yourself, in terms of how much pressure you put on yourself.
Our counsellors can work with you to begin working through these expectations, as they can help you to understand further whose expectations they are and dig deep to find our values. This then sets the foundation to create holidays that are meaningful, enjoyable and low stress.
This past year and a half have been filled with changes to our daily lives that have brought up a wide range of emotions for all of us. The overwhelming stress of isolation and safety uncertainty has presented new parents with additional challenges, in addition to the already expected challenges of having a newborn.
However, bringing a baby into a world that does not promise safety is beyond stressful for new parents. Many are worried about people touching their babies, bringing them out to public places, and ultimately, getting sick.
As well, there are many areas that have become politicized, placing additional pressures on parents to navigate. Our partners, family, family-in-law, or friends may complicate things with their own opinions. This can leave us feeling like we live in the extreme - follow others with no boundaries or become highly anxious and say no to everything.
Managing these times requires listening to ourselves and setting boundaries. Our counsellors can help be that sounding board to explore our thoughts and feelings in order to make decisions from a place of strength. We can work together to move to the middle ground and then learn how to set boundaries and stick with them.
If colder weather and shorter days cause you to feel down in the winter months, you’re not alone. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, where feeling low in the winter months is due to a lack of sun exposure and being outdoors.
When it comes to new parents, Seasonal Affective Disorder can trigger postpartum depression which is an illness that affects as many as one in five people after giving birth.
Postpartum depression is described as experiencing feelings of extreme sadness, indifference, and/or anxiety that are caused by hormone shifts and the adjustment period that comes with having a newborn. The perinatal period is the perfect storm in which everything is thrown off balance at the same time. This then becomes circular as we feel like we are on a merry-go-round that we can't get off.
Furthermore, a helpful strategy to help you become in tune with your body can be deep breathing. This entails breathing into your belly rather than shallow breathing in your chest; breathe in for 4, pause for 4, breathe out for a long exhale. Do this three times when you start to feel stressed or out of alignment with your body to help calm yourself.
Many new parents struggle through this period but, unfortunately, do not always have the space to be able to talk openly and honestly.
This is a vital time to reach out to your network and start to say what you need. Our counsellors will work with you to help implement coping mechanisms for overcoming seasonal affective disorder and postpartum depression.
Meet our Mental Health Counsellors
Michele is a Registered Psychotherapist who works at building a safe and therapeutic relationship that provides the emotional and mental health support that is so very needed at such a transitional time.
“Counsellors are available to offer that judgement-free space with empathy and compassion so you can share your thoughts, struggles, and frustrations while you develop personalized coping tools.”
Michele works with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, anger management, guilt, self-esteem, identity, perfectionism, boundary setting, addiction and is trauma-informed. Michele is passionate about working with parents in the perinatal period and has a long history of working in different settings, offering support and guidance. She is trained in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder and Advanced Perinatal Mental Health Psychotherapy.
Cynthia is a Registered Social Worker who has spent the past fourteen years working in mental health, child welfare, supporting children, adolescents, adults, parents and families.
“As a counsellor, I am a listening and supportive ear, a safe space for a person to talk about anything they may be going through, a space to voice their thoughts and feelings about their situation.”
Her counselling style is client-centred and integrates humanistic, cognitive behavioural and solution-focused approaches. She uses mindfulness, relaxation and guided imagery techniques to support clients along their counselling journey and offers a non-judgmental and supportive space to fully explore your inner self, thoughts and feelings on their journey towards growth and healing.
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As a new parent, it is natural to feel overwhelmed, so you must take care of yourself and handle your own needs.