Mindful with your New Baby: 3 Ways to Beat the Baby Blues
In our culture, we prepare new parents by buying all the things and telling them how happy and instantly in love they will be with their new baby.
We fail to share is that the transition into parenthood can lead to elevated levels of stress and mental load due to the heightened responsibilities of caring for a baby around the clock, developing a bond that does not always form instantly, changing relationships with their partner, growing into this new identify, finding and accepting support, and coping with feelings of shame for having to learn these new parenting skills that we think should be innate.
While immediately after giving birth there is a rise in life satisfaction, over the months to follow, this seems to decrease. Our media verses new parents on all the best gear but doesn't share tools to cope with what nearly half of women experience called the "baby blues" in the first couple of weeks post partum.
Baby blues refers to to negative mood and sadness many new moms feel due to rise in insomnia, fatigue, irritability, sadness, anxiety, and confusion at home with their new baby. While baby blues are not permanent, they are significant and for some lead into more serious conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and problems in maternal attachment to the infant.
Being Mindful with your Baby is One Promising Intervention to help New Parents
Mindfulness can be defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” said Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training program. Integrating mindfulness components of stillness, observation, and intention must be learned like any other skill.
Mindfulness is now gaining momentum as a method to help new parents by teaching them to be less reactive by reflecting upon their experiences before immediately reacting to better cope with distress, enhance enjoyment and choose connection over control. It's a practical set of tools to deal with stressful emotions and to be more attentive and responsive to their own needs and the needs of their babies. This presence helps mothers tap into their intuition, deepen their bond, and be more effective in tackling the challenges that naturally arise in caring for a new baby.
The Nourish Method for Being Mindful with your Baby
The first book of its kind, the Nourish Method gives parents the tools, skills, and practical methodology to be more mindful, connected, and positive with their babies. This groundbreaking methodology meets parents right where they are – tired, overwhelmed, and up to their arms in diapers. The Nourish Method shows parents that they don’t need to become a Zen master or even add more to their already full plate to share the benefits of mindfulness with their child.
By taking three core concepts of mindfulness - stillness, observation, and intention - they can infuse mindfulness into what they are already doing.
The result is an everyday mindfulness that helps parents be real, nurture their unique family bond, and create a safe home atmosphere of self-awareness, curiosity, and connection that overflows to their children well beyond the newborn years.
Foundation of Being Mindful with your Baby
Mindfulness isn’t about teaching your newborn to meditate. It’s about finding little things you can do while you’re making it through the day to help you and your baby connect and be present. Here are three ways to sprinkle mindfulness into what you are already doing to lower stress and and enhance enjoyment with your baby.
Stillness: From silence to physical rest, stillness always involves slowing down and allowing our bodies to experience the present moment. It's about about intentionally focusing on your breath so you may connect your mind, body, spirit and tap into your more powerful, true and highest self.
Observation: The simple act of noticing what is around you, what you are thinking, and what you are feeling as you are experiencing them in the moment. Allowing the emotions and feelings to move through you instead of ruminating on them or blocking or avoiding. The more you can observe first before responding you create space between what is happening around you (what is out of your control) and how you respond (all that is in your control) and doing this helps you tap into your power and find peace in your heart even amidst hard things - from this place you make better choices.
Intention: Choosing deliberately, rather than making decisions dictated by habit, reaction or expectation. Your intention is the energy behind what you do and is even more important than what you do. So much is out of our control and too much doesn't meet the expectation we set, which can cause distress. By focusing on your intention, you are more open to what happens, enjoy more, and respond in alignment to how you want to be instead of an immediate reaction.
The Data backs up Mindfulness as a positive, effective Tool for New Parents
Data is scarce but studies such as Mindful with your Baby are now providing evidence-based support that being mindful with your baby is a promising intervention for new parents experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health challenges. Their study found that "maternal mindfulness during pregnancy has not only shown to be associated with less maternal prenatal and postnatal emotional distress but also with better social-emotional development of their babies, less difficult infant temperament, and improved infant neurodevelopmental outcomes" reported Eva S. Potharst & Susan M. Bögels of UvA Minds.
We now know that the first five years of child's development are pivotal to their long term health, wellbeing, and the overall trajectory of their life. Therefor, trainings and teachings such as The Nourish Method that provide a manual for implementing mindful parenting, self-compassion, and wellbeing in turn lowers stress and hostility and increases confidence, warmth, responsivity benefits the infant and should be made available to all new parents.
For resources and more on science backed, tired-parent friendly mindfulness techniques visit The Nourish Method.