Managing stress with a new baby

by Kaiser Permanente |
Mother holding baby while working from home.

It’s no surprise that parents of newborns get stressed out sometimes. The change in normal routines, the lack of sleep, and the daily tasks of caring for an infant can feel overwhelming.

It takes time to adjust to life with a baby. However, it’s important to find ways to reduce stress so that you can be present and connected. Too much stress isn’t good for anyone, including your baby.

Managing stress

Finding ways to cope with being a new parent is important for your own wellbeing. Try:

  • Asking for help if you need it. Let other people assist you with running errands, cleaning the house, or other chores.
  • Going outside. Enjoying a short walk with your baby is good for you both and can help boost your mood.
  • Joining a new parents’ group. It can be helpful to connect with other new parents and share ideas and advice for managing stress.
  • Keeping a journal. Try to write down at least one or two things you’re grateful for every day.
  • Listening to music. Playing your favorite tunes is an instant mood booster.
  • Practicing mindfulness. Kaiser Permanente recommends two apps, myStrength and Calm, which can help you lower your stress levels. These tools are available for free to our members.
  • Reprioritizing. Can some household tasks, like folding laundry, wait a while? There’s nothing that says you have to get everything done at once.
  • Trying meditation or deep breathing exercises. For some, simply focusing on breathing can lower stress levels.

Getting enough sleep

It might seem like it’s impossible to get a good night’s sleep after bringing your baby home. But remember that infants sleep a lot during the day, especially in their first few months. Try taking a nap when your baby does. It might help to silence your phone and put a note on your door in case anyone stops by. This helps prevent unwanted interruptions.

Returning to work

Going back to the workplace can be a source of stress. If you’re having trouble with your emotions after going back to work, talk with someone. Your partner, a friend, a family member, a counselor, or a clinician can listen.

It can be helpful to talk with your employer about flexibility. Maybe you can work from home or work fewer hours for a while. You won’t know unless you ask.

Breastfeeding on the job

Many new parents worry about breastfeeding after they go back to work. Breast pumps can help you continue to provide your baby with your own breast milk. You’ll need to plan for how often to pump, where to pump, and how you’ll store breast milk.

Check with your health plan or clinic if they can give you a pump. It’s a good idea to create a pumping routine — try to pump when your baby normally feeds throughout the day.

Storing breast milk properly is important. After you pump, place the milk in a refrigerator or in a small cooler with ice packs.

myStrength® is a trademark of Livongo Health, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teladoc Health, Inc.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.