Hey mama, it’s okay to be afraid. Fear doesn’t make you any less of a parent! Fear is a normal emotion and, thankfully, it can be managed.
However, fear was not an emotion I was prepared for when I became a new mom. It was overwhelming and, at times, crippling. They say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but how can you sleep when you’re always worried something is wrong with the baby and your mind is a flurry of worries?
“Is he breathing okay?”
“Is there any chance he could roll over?”
“Is he too hot/cold?”
So many questions that lead to fear and anxiety.
I lived in a state of fear much longer than necessary, and I wish I had known earlier that fear can be managed with a few simple tips. My hope is that I can help you to save some time and energy so that you can focus on lovin that sweet baby.
7 Tips for the Mama that's Fighting Fear:
1. Sort Your Fears Into Two Categories
Okay mama, you can do this mentally or the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper. Whichever you choose, I want you to list your fears. Every single one of those thoughts that are keeping you awake and making you feel anxious. Then, separate them into two categories:
– Things I can control
– Things I cannot control
Everything that you don’t have any control over, let go. It will be much easier to manage your anxiety once it doesn’t include things you have no control over.
The things you do have control over, do what you can to tackle them. Educate yourself, ask for help and support from family/friends, or put a plan into place that helps manage the fear.
You got this, mama.
2. Filter What You Are Allowing In
One of the reasons I deleted social media after having Jackson was because of the intense negativity and fear it continuously tried to feed me. I am not saying you have to delete your social media accounts, but I do recommend paying attention to what kind of content you are allowing into your life.
If it’s a source of fear or anxiety, find something else that better serves you and your mental health. Filling yourself with countless videos of babies with health issues, or new mama horror stories is not going to do you any good.
3. Ask for Help
I know you want to be strong, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hiding your fear from everyone around you won’t do you or your baby any good. The quicker you are able to get help and support, the quicker you will be able to move past the fear.
Talk with your doctor or midwife about any issues or concerns you may have.
Get help from a lactation consultant.
Lean on the mama tribe you have around you.
Ask for help from family and friends who have gone through motherhood before.
Talk to your SPOUSE.
Mama, I went 6 weeks without telling my husband about the emotional torment I was in. He thought I was handling it all so well, but in reality, I felt like I was on the verge of crashing and burning. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Remember this: They want to help. No one wants you to take this on alone. Ask for help.
I know that by this point everyone and their dog has told you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but here’s why it’s so important to get as much rest as possible.
Rest helps with hormonal changes
After giving birth, the body experiences a shift in hormone levels, which can lead to fatigue, mood swings, and other emotional changes. Rest can help the body and mind adjust to these changes.
Getting enough sleep can help balance hormone levels and reduce any negative impacts. When you are well-rested, it is easier to handle the stress and emotions that come with motherhood -including feelings of fear and anxiety.
Rest is vital for physical healing
Your body has just gone through some very huge changes. Growing a child alone requires a tremendous amount of energy and strength. Birthing a child requires even more.
After birthing your baby, and then the placenta, you have a wound in your uterus the size of a DINNER PLATE. Just because you can’t see it does NOT mean it isn’t there. Mama, that wound needs time to heal.
Health Hub advises taking 4 to 6 weeks to completely stop. Some cultures do this for much longer.
Moving around and working before your body has had a chance to recover can cause prolonged bleeding, exhaustion, and can even increase your risk of further physical health issues.
Mama, those dishes do not matter right now. Neither does the laundry, watering the plants, or any other chore you could be doing. You need to rest and recover.
Rest helps with breastfeeding
If you’re a mama that is planning to breastfeed, rest is important for your supply! In fact, rest helps to help establish milk production and maintain a healthy milk supply. The more energy you expend, the less energy you have to produce milk. So take it easy and rest as much as you can.
***If your baby is having trouble latching or feeding, there are professionals that are eager to help you. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out and ask for help!
Rest helps your mood… AND your baby’s
You already know that a lack of rest can have negative impacts on your mood. Everything seems much more intense when you are running on little to no sleep -including fear. But did you know your negative mood can also impact your baby’s mood?
It is known that our babies can be affected by our stress levels. When we are exhausted and anxious, it can make them fussy as well. In fact, in a study performed in 2013, stress can even impact babies’ brain development.
Even if you can only catch a few hours of sleep here or there during the day, that is still valuable rest.
If you can’t get to bed, at least try to take 10-minute power naps throughout the day. It will help your body and mind recover from the chaos of motherhood.
Adequate rest reduces the risk of complications
Resting after giving birth can help reduce the risk of postpartum complications such as infections, blood clots, and postpartum depression. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be intentional about resting now than experience something more severe later.
5. Is It Rational?
Fear can appear out of nowhere, and it can be so real that you might feel like something awful is going to happen. But when you are in the depths of fear, it’s hard to think objectively.
When these irrational fears come up, take a step back and assess them. Ask yourself – is this fear rational? Is there any evidence that what I am afraid of will actually happen to me or my baby?
If you’re having trouble discerning how rational your fear is, take a minute to talk to someone about it. Talking it out with a trusted friend or family member can help put things in perspective.
Sometimes all you need is to hear someone else’s reassurance that everything is going to be okay.
6. Take Your Vitamins
It’s no secret that having an adequate amount of vitamins is important for your physical and mental health. And postpartum fear is certainly no exception.
Vitamins B6 and B12 have both been linked to reducing levels of anxiety, which is essential when you’re feeling overwhelmed by fear. B6 can also help to improve your mood, making it easier to cope with the stress of motherhood.
After telling my midwife about the emotions I was struggling with, she recommended that I take a B-Complex vitamin each day. I truly believed it helped me!
It’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D can increase anxiety, while adequate amounts help to reduce it.
Make sure you are also staying hydrated. Adequate hydration will help to level out some of those crazy hormones that may be causing your fear and anxiety.
Finally, try to incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Research shows that omega-3s can help with reducing anxiety.
Mama, take it to Jesus. Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Don’t for a minute think that He doesn’t care about what you are going through. He, unlike anyone else, understands your fears and can provide the peace you need.
I encourage you to pray any time those fears begin to creep into your mind. This is something I have had to do over and over again throughout my motherhood journey. Pray that He will provide the peace you need to get through the day and trust in Him.
He listens, mama, and He cares.
What Do New Parents Fear Most?
- Not Being Prepared
One of the most common fears among new mamas is not being prepared for the arrival of their baby. It’s natural to worry about not having everything you need, and it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Listen mama, babies need a lot less than you might think. In fact, what they need most is you. Apart from that, make sure you have the basics like diapers, wipes, a car seat, and clothes.
- Failing as a Parent
Another very common fear among new parents is failing as a parent. This fear can be so overwhelming that it leaves you feeling helpless.
However, nobody is perfect and the only way to become a great parent is to practice and learn as you go. Be gentle with yourself and be sure to give yourself grace in times of failure.
- Financial Stress
Money can be a huge source of stress for new parents, especially when you are unprepared for the financial costs associated with having a baby.
It’s easy to worry about money, but try your best to remain positive and focus on what you can do. Make a budget and stick to it, as well as look into government programs that can help with the costs associated with having a baby.
Don’t let your pride get the best of you. If you need assistance, be sure to ask for it. There are a lot of programs available to help new families.
- SIDS and Other Health Concerns
New parents are often filled with fear and anxiety about their baby’s health, such as the fear of SIDS.
I’ll be honest, googling SIDS won’t bring you much comfort, and I would actually advise against it. Speak to your doctor and get the facts about SIDS, so that you can feel informed without getting overwhelmed.
Remember, no matter how much research you do, you can’t control everything. So stay informed and take care of yourself so that you can be the best parent you can be.
- The Fear of Not Knowing
The fear of not knowing is one of the most common fears among new parents. You may be worried about whether you are doing things right or if you’re missing something important.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from your friends and family. Reach out to other mamas you trust and dismiss the goal of perfection.
It’s okay to not know all the answers. You are learning and growing as you go, and that is perfectly normal.
- Flathead Syndrome
Flathead syndrome, also called plagiocephaly, is when a baby’s head shape can become flattened or asymmetrical due to resting in the same position for extended periods of time.
It is a common fear among new parents and something that can be prevented with simple measures like giving your baby tummy time and changing their position in the crib.
If you are concerned about your baby’s head shape, be sure to speak to your doctor.
Breastfeeding is a touchy subject for many new moms, and the fear of not being able to provide enough milk for your baby is real.
My advice? Educate yourself and ask for help if you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to lactation consultants and get the support you need. They WANT to help.
Some of the best advice I was given was to tough it out the first 2 weeks. It’ll be a little uncomfortable and takes a little while to get used to.
Also, your milk will not come in immediately. Instead, a golden liquid called colostrum will come in. This is rich in protein and antibodies that are perfect for your new baby’s digestive system.
- Baby Weight Loss
It is very common for newborns to lose weight in the first few days after birth. It’s normal for this weight loss to range from 5-10% of their birth weight and should be regained in the first two weeks.
If you are worried about your baby’s weight loss, be sure to speak to your midwife/doctor. They can provide you with guidance and advice.
- Postpartum Depression
Postpartum brings a crazy hormonal change that can cause a drastic shift in emotions. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even sad after giving birth, but if you find that these feelings are long-term, be sure to speak with your doctor.
In the meantime, make sure to stay hydrated and nourished. Also, continue taking your prenatal!
Postpartum depression is real and it is treatable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Motherhood is an amazing and sometimes scary journey. While it’s normal to experience fear during this time, it’s important to understand that there are ways to cope with it. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, and take those vitamins! Never be afraid to ask for help, and remember to take it to Jesus in prayer. I wish you the best, Mama.
Mamas, have you ever felt afraid? What did you do to overcome that fear? If you’re comfortable, please share your stories in the comments below!
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