Maternal Stress: Signs and Solutions
When we talk about stress management, the first things that come to mind are words like yoga, meditation, rest, or relaxation. Now imagine for a moment that you’re the mother of a baby and you find yourself starting to transition to full-on maternal stress.
In many cases, it’s difficult for women to manage this situation if they have no idea how. If that is your situation, we want to teach you the key things you’ll need to know.
To the extent that it’s reasonable, becoming a mother should be a conscious, planned act. However, of course many women throughout the world take a baby into their arms without having any type of previous preparation for managing the stress of motherhood.
Tools for managing stress are necessary for raising a child. Being a mom is a full-time job. On top of that there is the labor of caring for a household and often a job as well. It’s normal for all of this to create stress sometimes.
Stress has many faces
Stress isn’t something that should worry you too much. In some ways, it’s a natural reaction to physical or emotional pressures. However, it becomes a problem when a mother finds herself out of control in some way, and this situation affects the members of her family.
Children learn how to manage their own stress from their parents. It’s best if you can immediately recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and learn to apply quick and healthy solutions. This will avoid having its harmful effects reach others in your home.
Physical signs and symptoms of stress
Usually, a person who is very stressed will experience a rapid increase in heart rate and breathing, in addition to their blood pressure and muscle tension.
In contrast, the digestive system and resistance to illness is reduced. Additionally, the digestive system may produce acid reflux, constipation, or diarrhea.
Your sleep patterns change, your energy levels fluctuate, and you have a constant sense of exhaustion, even when you’ve slept well.
Stress can also make menstruation erratic for women, cause pain, and increase and worsen illnesses. Finally, difficulty in controlling your emotions may lead to occasional angry episodes.
Sometimes our minds are so full of negative thoughts, anxiety, anger, or frustration that we forget to connect with those around us.
Techniques for reducing maternal stress
Without question, being a mother is an exhausting job. This makes it very important to know some strategies to help you relax when you find yourself in a stressful situation.
The freelance writer Jeremy Lehrer talks about an alternative based on “pacifying the mind” when faced with moments of stress in the process of raising a child.
This alternative is called “full consciousness” and it consists of “calming your mind to be able to be more present in the moment.”
He suggests always living in the moment; the here and now. In one of his articles he offers three paths or techniques for managing maternal stress in the healthiest way. Let’s take a look:
To employ the conscious breathing technique, pay attention to how the breath enters and leaves your body. You can close your eyes or keep them open, whichever helps you concentrate more. While you inhale and exhale, count from one to ten by twos.
The counting will help you realize when a thought comes into your mind. When this happens, let it pass and return to the task of counting your breaths.
Thoughts will always come up, and you’ll realize that your mind is restless. Nevertheless, the idea of the conscious breathing exercise is precisely to train your mind.
You’ll see that the exercise gets easier and easier. The secret is to be disciplined and regular. If you do this exercise daily, you’ll find that it makes you feel more calm and relaxed, and you find yourself newly more willing to do tasks.
Another technique for fighting stress and reaching a state of conscious relaxation is to pay attention to your body’s sensations. To do this, first focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply until your mind feels relaxed and you begin to feel the different parts of your body.
The purpose of this technique is to be conscious of the sensations in your body, not to judge, but rather to identify and recognize how your body is reacting to stress and worry.
Your mind and body need to be in sync. You can achieve this by paying more attention to sensations in your body.
You can also do this by listening closely to the sounds around you. The purpose is to note the subtle changes in sound. Sometimes our minds are so full of negative thoughts, anxiety, anger, or frustration that we forget to connect with those around us.
One technique for managing maternal stress is breathing. A mother should focus all her attention on how she is breathing.
This technique is especially effective when you’re annoyed or angry, explains Lehrer.
When you notice that you’re feeling that way, look for a separate place in the house where you can calm yourself down and think better. Ask for ten minutes and avoid any kind of external distraction.
Once you’re in that space, lie down on the floor, close your eyes, and center yourself on your breathing. This time, as you breathe, try to feel each part of your body, in order.
You can start with your feet. Feel them and invite them to relax, then do the same with your knees, your thighs, and the other parts of your body.
You can also start with your head and feel how you can relax each muscle in your face, your shoulders, your hands, reaching all the way to your feet. When you finish relaxing every part of your body and decide to stand up again, get up slowly.
There are many videos that can help you with this type of technique. Practicing them consistently can help you gradually eliminate maternal stress and help you face your daily challenges in good spirits.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Gorrita Pérez, R. R., Bárcenas Bellót, Y., Gorrita Pérez, Y., & Brito Herrera, B. (2014). Estrés y ansiedad maternos y su relación con el éxito de la lactancia materna. Revista cubana de pediatría, 86(2), 0-0. http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?pid=S0034-75312014000200006&script=sci_arttext&tlng=pt
- Olhaberry, M., & Farkas, C. (2012). Estrés materno y configuración familiar: estudio comparativo en familias chilenas monoparentales y nucleares de bajos ingresos. Universitas Psychologica, 11(4), 1326-1326. https://revistas.javeriana.edu.co/index.php/revPsycho/article/view/1047
- Pérez-López, J., Pérez-Lag, M., Ramón, M. D. P. M., & Velasco, L. P. P. (2012). Estrés parental, desarrollo infantil y atención temprana. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, 1(1), 123-132. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3498/349832342012.pdf