Stress Busters: How to Handle New Parent Stress

By Lindsey Johnson
Stressed mom holding baby

From the moment you found out that a baby was on the way, you were likely filled with lots of emotions, including stress. How will we afford this new child? What are the plans for childcare and taking time off work? What’s the best carseat? Will we breast or bottle feed? Then the baby makes an appearance and there are new things to worry about in your sleep-deprived state. Will I ever sleep again? How do I take a shower? Am I burping the baby correctly? Parenthood comes with a certain level of anxiety but learning to manage stress will help both you and your baby feel more comfortable. It is imperative to take care of yourself first so you can take great care of your baby. Here are some ways to handle new parent stress.

Enlist Help

Find a friend, family member or paid help to chip in with childcare, household chores or giving you a break to help you handle new parent stress. You can’t do it all yourself and if you try to manage it on your own, you may burn out. Release the guilt of asking for help, and take any and all assistance you can.

Take Time for Yourself

Find a self-care activity that you value and make it happen regularly! Carve time out for yourself away from the baby to decompress for a little while. Take a bath, exercise, read a book, listen to a podcast, spend time with a friend, journal, meditate — whatever it takes to clear your head and give you a break from responsibility.

Breathing Activities

In a moment of overwhelm, take a pause and do some breathing. Box breathing (four-count inhale, four-count hold, four-count exhale, four-count hold) is extremely effective in calming the nervous system and slowing the heart rate. This technique is so effective that the U.S. Navy SEALs use it to stay calm under pressure.


While it may feel like you don’t have time for journaling, consider spending a few minutes a few times per week to jot down your feelings. This can be helpful to process the wide range of emotions
you feel during the adjustment period of adding a new family member. Stress, exhaustion and frustration are all normal and expected during the first few months. Sometimes it helps to release those feelings of new parent stress onto paper (or digitally).


Meditation may feel a little “woo-woo” to some, but it can be as simple as focusing on the current moment. Take a minute to notice all your senses — what do you hear, what do you smell, what do you feel on your skin, what do you taste, what do you see? Other forms of meditation can include quieting the mind, trying to release all thoughts that come up and listening to some quiet music or nature sounds.

Get Outside

Nature has been linked to many mental health benefits. The American Psychological Association (APA)
states that time in nature can improve attention, reduce stress and create a better mood. Escaping outside for a few minutes can help hit the reset button and bring you back to a sense of equilibrium.

Connect with Other New Parents

Ask your obstetrician or pediatrician about a new parent group. There are also online parent groups and chats. Connecting with other new parents who are experiencing the same things can be helpful and a great way to release tension.

While stress is common during pregnancy and the first few months after birth, talk to your doctor if you are having difficulty coping or feel that your stress is not under control.

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