When it comes to motherhood, there are many things that I hold onto tightly. Some of my favorites are - baby snuggles after a long day, the calm and connection of middle of the night feedings, and the way your kiddo looks at you like you are their person. But, motherhood has been full of challenges as well. In our household, we’ve dealt with postpartum depression and anxiety, premature babies and the NICU, sleep apnea diagnosed after a “blue” episode (so scary!), colic, reflux, developmental delays and more. It’s been a roller coaster - and I know that no matter what your journey has been like, you can relate to that.
But today, I want to talk about colic. Both of my children were quite grumpy babies, but my daughter was the one who screamed ALL day. I was a brand new mom and had no idea what to do. Literally, none. And I had to walk away - a lot. I was desperate. But, I learned a lot from her (and continue to do so). In fact, her birth and babyhood is what led me down this path of helping new moms - and what inspired me to create Mommy-SOS. Now, I want to share it with you!
When your newborn baby won’t stop crying, it can start to feel desperate. You may be worried that there is something wrong with your baby, that you aren’t a good enough mother, that you don’t have the instincts or that you won’t ever be able to connect. Yep, I understand. I’ve had all of those feelings. But the truth is that you can handle it. And you are a good mother! You just need to use a few simple tricks to soothe your baby's crying.
All babies cry. It’s how they communicate their needs – and desires – with you. But, depending on their personality and health, some babies cry way more than others. And some newborn babies have colic – my daughter did and we always referred to that as “next level crying”. Let’s look at some typical reasons why babies cry:
Acid reflux/Upset Tummy
But if you rule these out and your baby is still crying, there are definitely things you can do. As a Certified Happiest Baby Educator, I can assure you that you can actually STOP the crying. I’ve seen it done many times! Read below to learn how:
Surveys of new mothers have shown that between 50-70% felt guilt and shame related to the pressures of being the mother they were expected (or expected themselves) to be. In fact, a quick Google search will show the multitude of opinions on the best way to give birth, to feed and to care for your baby.
The truth is, the answers to none of these questions should be viewed as absolutes. But with the constant exposure to be what is expected of us as mothers, it’s very easy to start believing that there actually is a “right” way – and that you’re failing at it. The overexposure to the myths and expectations can make a new mom spiral into feelings of self-doubt, insecurity and overwhelm.
Through Mommy-SOS, it is one of my goals to help bring light to the common myths of motherhood. As you read the myths below, take a moment to review them yourself - and find what resonates for you. Let’s challenge the myths of the good mom, remove the guilt and enjoy motherhood in our own unique ways.
You find yourself awake in the middle of the night. Your mind racing. You’re unable to relax or take a break – even when the baby is sleeping. You can’t eat (or you eat mindlessly throughout the day). You’re afraid to leave the baby with anyone else (or be alone with the baby yourself). You worry constantly about something happening to your baby – or to you- or to your partner...
Does any of this sound familiar? You are NOT alone.
As many as 1 in 10 new moms experience anxiety - whether alone or combined with feelings of depression. With postpartum anxiety, a mom may have constant worries about her baby's health and her ability to be a good mom. She is likely to worry about something bad happening. She may wonder how she's going to balance her work and home life, her relationship, or even caring for multiple children. She may become restless and moody, have disturbances with eating and sleeping, or experience physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, or insomnia.
If this sounds like you, I encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider or schedule an appointment to see a counselor. Postpartum anxiety is very treatable and can be managed well with help. But, if left untreated, it can interfere with your ability to bond to your baby – and enjoy motherhood as a whole. In the meantime, here are 5 ways you can begin to improve your mindset and manage your anxiety better:
As a mother of two troubled sleepers, a maternal mental health specialist and licensed therapist working with new moms and a pediatric sleep expert who has had the honor of helping thousands of families improve their babies, there is one thing I have seen make THE biggest difference in a baby's sleep. And if you ask anyone who has worked with me, they’ll tell you exactly what that is - white noise!
I truly believe that white noise is the miracle worker of sleep. Now, of course you're going to need to put other things in motion - like removing sleep props and altering a schedule - but using white noise takes very little effort on your part and can give you BIG gains in the sleep department. Everyone in my house – including the parents – still uses a white noise machine each and every night (despite my children now being 7 and 4). And we all sleep better because of it!
Ready to make some changes, but confused about whether a counselor or a life coach is right for you? As both a licensed clinician and a certified life coach, I get asked about how the two are actually different – a lot! The two professions do share some similarities, but they are also very different from each other in several key ways. So, when you’re considering what is best for your current needs, it’s important to take a closer look.
Having trouble getting your baby to sleep? Or to sleep well? Studies have shown that new moms lose a total of 44 days of sleep on average during the first year of their baby's life and are "dangerously exhausted". Because sleep deprivation has been linked to parental postpartum depression - both in mothers and fathers - it's important for families to try to create healthier sleep habits from the very beginning. When it comes to changing sleep habits and improving your baby's sleep cycles though, it can feel overwhelming knowing where to begin. But you don't have to make major changes to get a bit more sleep - or even to get your baby to sleep through the night. These are the top 4 most common infant sleep pitfalls and how to fix them:
Jennifer Howard, CLC, CHBE
As a maternal mental health and pediatric sleep expert, I am passionate about helping tired mamas thrive throughout the many seasons of motherhood. I'm a Nationally Certified Professional Life Coach and Masters Level Therapist specializing in parental mental wellness, marriage/partnership strength and pediatric sleep and soothing.
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