5 Ways to Recognize Addiction Before it Takes Over

Drug and alcohol use in this country is on the rise, with over 23 million Americans addicted. To put that into clearer perspective, that’s one in every ten people in the United States over the age of 12 that are currently struggling with substance abuse.

But what is addiction exactly, and how can we recognize the symptoms?

Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, is the psychological and physiological need to continue using a substance, in spite of the fact that it is negatively impacting your relationships and life. 

While each individual is unique and may not display all of these symptoms, the following are ways you can recognize addiction in loved ones before it takes over.

1. Physical Dependence

Over time, individuals build up a tolerance to the drug and must do more of it to feel the same effects. Changes in physiology (withdrawal) can make them feel bad and, when it comes to functioning “normally,” it can be almost impossible without the drug in their system.

2. Neglecting Responsibilities

Choosing drugs or alcohol over meeting personal obligations and responsibilities is one of the biggest signs of addiction. Being late in picking up a child from school because an individual is buying drugs, or calling in sick to work to stay home and get high all day are classic signs the addiction is taking precedence over adult obligations.

3. Developing Unhealthy Friendships

The phrase “like attracts like” is applicable when it comes to addiction. When individuals begin experimenting with new substances, they often find themselves spending time with others who have similar habits. Soon, that person is spending all of their time with people who may encourage these unhealthy habits.

4. Isolation

There are some individuals who, alternatively, choose to withdraw and isolate themselves in an attempt to hide their drug use from friends and family. Isolation is also a result of depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

5. Poor Judgement

Addiction causes people to partake in risky behavior. Addicts may begin lying, stealing, engaging in unsafe sex, and even selling drugs themselves. These behaviors are unsafe for their physical and mental wellbeing, and may even land them in jail.

Many addicts may not recognize they are exhibiting these telltale signs. In these instances, friends and family may need to encourage them in getting the help they desperately need. If you feel that you or a loved one is currently addicted to drugs or alcohol and interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

4 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

You know that good nutrition is important for your child’s physical health. But did you know it’s also critical for their mental health as well? Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

With that in mind, here are 4 tips for raising healthy eaters.

1. Give Your Kids Whole Foods – Not Processed

As much as possible, serve your kids fresh foods free of preservatives, additives, and excess sugar. To do this, you’ve got to read those labels.

For instance, your child, like many others, may want to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day. But most commercial peanut butters typically include added preservatives and copious amounts of sugar. Try and find peanut butter made only from fresh peanuts and no additives.

2. Healthy Breakfasts

Starting your child’s day with a healthy breakfast high in protein and whole grains and low in sugar will set them up for a day of learning and physical activity. While it’s hard to get the family together for breakfast, sitting down with them to eat is a great way to get them to gobble up their eggs instead of lamenting over the bowl of sugary cereal they can’t have. Plus, this morning time is a great opportunity to talk with them about their goals and hopes for the day.

3. Essential Omega Fatty Acids

A new study suggests that supplementing kids diets with omega-3 and omega-6 acids may improve problem behavior in children and adolescents with ADHD. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are called “essential” acids because the body needs them to build healthy cells and maintain brain and nerve function.

Omega-3 acids can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as from walnuts and flaxseeds. Other nuts such as cashews and almonds (try almond butter instead of peanut butter) contain omega-6 as well as omega-3. Try the classic tuna fish sandwich for lunches and sprinkling chopped nuts onto oatmeal in the morning.

4. Let Your Kids help You Prepare Meals

People who prepare fresh meals made from whole foods tend to be healthier than people who eat primarily packaged foods. It’s important to teach kids early that taking a little time to prepare a meal (instead of microwaving a frozen dinner) will ultimately lead to a healthier and happier life.

Kids love to help in the kitchen, so invite yours to help prepare family meals. Show them how quick and easy it can be to create a healthy dinner.

While good nutrition can go a long way in helping children deal with and overcome mental health challenges, such as ADHD, sometimes speaking with a family therapist can also help a family to communicate more effectively and begin healing.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Feeling Bad About Your Unexpected C-Section? You’re Not Alone

Bringing a baby into the world is supposed to be one of the happiest events in a woman’s life, but often there are things that can make a new mother feel sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed. One of those things is having an unexpected C-section.

If you’ve recently had an unexpected C-section and are experiencing mixed emotions about it, you’re not alone. The following feelings are common after having a C-section that you were not planning:

Shock

Many women, especially young women, assume they will have a natural birth. But sometimes, life throws us a curveball in the form of unforeseen complications or 20+ hour labors that simply won’t progress. Often, C-sections are necessary for the health of the baby, mother, or both.

It’s very normal, however, to feel shocked at this unexpected turn of events. You thought about this day for months and you’ve physically taken very good care of yourself, so a C-sections seems to be the ending you simply didn’t want or plan for.

Women should always speak with their doctors before the delivery date to understand what kinds of things may occur that could result in the need for a C-section so they can manage their expectations of the big day.

Sadness

It is common and perfectly normal to feel sad that you and your husband or partner didn’t get to experience the “normal” birth event. In a C-section scenario, the husband is not allowed in the OR and new parents don’t get to immediately hold the baby or get those brand new baby pictures to immediately upload to Instagram. The rush and fear of sudden surgery means that magical, special moment of parents connecting with child is gone – or at least, postponed.

Feeling sadness and grief for that loss is understandable. You are not alone in that: This is a very common feeling amongst new mothers who have an unexpected C-section.

You Feel Like a Failure

Women throughout the centuries, throughout the millennia, have had “normal” vaginal births. Maybe you come from one of those families were every female has had a vaginal birth. But you, you HAD to go and have a C-section.

Many women feel guilt and shame after having a C-section, like they somehow didn’t do something right. They should have taken more supplements. They should have exercised more during pregnancy. They should have pushed longer and harder before “giving up.”

Feelings of inadequacy are, unfortunately, a big part of being a parent. But you can feel like an absolute failure when you feel the actually childbirth was a complete flop.

It’s important to remember you did nothing wrong. Repeat that with me: You. Did. Nothing. Wrong.

There were serious medical circumstances surrounding your required C-section. If you feel the need to know exactly “what went wrong,” feel free to schedule an appointment with your OBGYN, who can help you try and make sense of what happened.

You Feel Bad About Feeling Bad

Perhaps the most frustrating emotion many women feel is feeling bad about the fact that they feel bad. Despite the fact that both mother and baby are healthy, many women still feel distressed about the surgery and ashamed that they feel this way even though everything turned out fine.

The best thing to do in this circumstance is to not pretend that you’re okay, but ask for help. Just because you think you should feel joyful doesn’t mean you do. If you are feeling any of the emotions listed, seek guidance from a professional counselor who can help you process your emotions and make sense of everything.

If you’re a new mother who is struggling with having a C-section and you’d like to explore treament, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

It’s OK to Grieve After a Miscarriage

Throughout our lives we experience the loss of loved ones and friends. But there is no greater loss than that of a child. And it doesn’t matter what age that child was, the loss is profound.

If you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss, you are most likely feeling more sadness and grief than you even thought possible. While your body may have healed, your heart will take a while to catch up. It’s important that you allow yourself some time to grieve and feel all your emotions. And you will, at times, feel a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from disbelief to anger to guilt, sadness, depression, and numbness.

You may also experience physical symptoms as a result of this emotional stress. These symptoms can include fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and frequent episodes of crying. The hormonal changes that occur after miscarriage may intensify these symptoms.

The Grieving Process – What to Expect

There are three main stages of the grieving process after a miscarriage.

Stage 1 – Shock/Denial

You can’t believe the loss has happened. It shouldn’t have happened. You took great care of yourself and your body. You did everything right. Why is this happening?

Stage 2 – Anger/Guilt/Depression

Thoughts and feelings of shame and inadequacy can take over your life. You begin to study every detail of your pregnancy over and over to find what it was that you did wrong. You may feel guilty that you weren’t able to give your partner or husband a child, or your parents a grandchild. The sadness is overwhelming, and most days you can barely function.

Stage 3 – Acceptance

You recognize that you are not alone, and that many other women have experienced a miscarriage. You also begin to remember the other responsibilities in your life, perhaps you have other children who need more of your attention, and you decide to accept what’s happened and move on with your life as best you can.

It’s important to understand that each stage of the grieving process will take longer to go through than the one before. And there can also be setbacks. You may think you have finally accepted the event, when you go to your friend’s baby shower and find yourself sneaking off to the bathroom to cry.

Be aware that men and women grieve differently. Usually women are more expressive about their loss, whereas men like to be proactive. Men are problem-solvers, not weepers. Understand that your husband or partner is grieving, even if you don’t recognize the way in which he grieves.

Your path to healing will be benefitted by both of you being sensitive and respectful of each other’s needs and feelings during this time. Accept your different coping styles and always keep those lines of communication open.

It’s also important that you seek help. This could be from a loved one who’s been where you are now, or a family therapist who can guide you through your grieving process and give you tools to help you cope with your emotions now and in the future.

If you or a loved one has experienced a miscarriage and are overwhelmed with emotions, you don’t have to go through it alone. Please contact me and let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

Maternal Mental Health & How it Impacts the Child-Parent Relationship

The birth of a child can be one of the most wonderful, amazing, and joyous experiences of a woman’s life. It can also be incredibly emotional and challenging, particularly if the new mother is dealing with any mental health issues. These can make it difficult to bond with her baby and feel okay and competent as a mother.

A woman may have struggled with her mental health before becoming pregnant and giving birth. She may have been in treatment for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. She may have stopped taking medication during pregnancy and while she breastfeeds for the safety of her baby.

A new mother may also experience the “baby blues” or full-on postpartum depression (PPD). Both are caused by a sudden and dramatic decrease in hormones. While the baby blues is milder and only lasts for a couple of weeks, PPD can be much more aggressive and last for months. Mothers who suspect they are suffering from PPD are advised to seek treatment.

The Powerful Mother-Child Bond

The importance of forming an intimate bond between mother and baby cannot be overstated. The quality of this early relationship can have lasting effects on a child’s development, including socio-emotional adaptation, cognitive development, and language development.

When a mother is struggling with mental health issues, it impedes her ability to bond with and care for her baby. Depression and anxiety can result in a woman feeling disconnected from her new child.

The physical symptoms that often accompany mental health issues can also make it incredibly difficult to form a quality relationship with a new child. Women who experience everything from panic attacks to an inability to concentrate to profound exhaustion may find they have little energy to give to bonding with their baby.

Mental health issues can affect a mother’s perceptions, sensitivity an ability to interpret and respond to her baby’s signals. This decreased emotional involvement and responsiveness from the mother can lead to disrupted attachment and mental, social and emotional problems for the child later in life.

Treatment Can Help

The good news is therapy can help mothers struggling with mental health issues. By getting treatment you will have the tools and resources needed to take back control of your life.

If you’re a new mother who is currently struggling and are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Do I Have the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70-80% of all new mothers experience what’s called the “baby blues”, while only 10% – 20% suffer from postpartum depression. With so many women experiencing some form of emotional upheaval after giving birth, why is there still so much confusion about the two?

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program, UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, notes there’s still a stigma attached to admitting that you’re feeling sad after just giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby.

“There’s societal pressure to feel happy and blissful, so women don’t talk about [the baby blues]. There’s enormous guilt and shame,” attached to the experience, Meltzer-Brody says.

What Causes the Baby Blues and Post-Partum Depression?

During pregnancy, a woman’s levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are sky-high, higher than they’ve ever been at any other time in her life. Once the baby is delivered, those levels plummet. Let me repeat, they don’t gently and slowly come back down to normal levels over the course of weeks, they very quickly and dramatically drop. This neurobiological process triggers the baby blues.

Added to this drop in hormone levels is the fact that the childbirth process is profound and exhausting, and new mothers are handed a human being and expected to keep it alive, without any kind of training or manual. Needless to say, the combination of hormones, exhaustion, and outright fear can make a woman feel sad and vulnerable.

While there is no denying that giving birth and meeting her newborn is one of the most awesome and special moments in a woman’s life, Meltzer-Brody believes the idea of being purely joyful and “blissed out” are exaggerated for most women.

“The vast majority of women find both the birth and the transition to motherhood to be challenging. Certainly, there’s lots of joy and it’s a time of great happiness, but it’s really difficult the first few weeks,” she says.

It’s important for women to know the signs and symptoms of both the baby blues and postpartum depression before giving birth, so they’ll know what to expect if they’re among the majority of women who experience short-lived mood changes (the baby blues), or whether they might need to seek treatment for something more severe and persistent (postpartum depression).

Baby Blues

  1. You’re weepy and feel vulnerable all of the time. Some women have described it as “very bad PMS.”
  2. Symptoms last about two weeks after giving birth.
  3. You may also experience other wild mood swings like irritability, anxiety, and have a hard time focusing or concentrating.

Postpartum Depression

  1. Your symptoms last longer than two weeks after giving birth and are much more severe.
  2. While you will similarly have mood swings and feel a combination of anxiety, sadness, irritability and have trouble concentrating, you may also begin to feel hopeless and sometimes even have thoughts of harming the baby or yourself.
  3. Postpartum depression typically emerges over the first 2-3 months after childbirth but may occur at any point after delivery.

If you have recently given birth but your symptoms are severe and lasting for more than two weeks, it is important you seek counseling. Women who are experiencing the baby blues may also find it helpful to speak to a therapist.

If you are a new mother, or know one who may be interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. No woman should have to go through this emotional upheaval alone.

What Does Postpartum Depression Feel Like?

Most new mothers are handed their swaddled baby along with a brochure about postpartum depression (PPD) when they are discharged from the hospital. And while it’s great that awareness of PPD is growing, each woman’s experience of it can vary greatly and include everything from obsessive anxiety, OCD, to a sense of disconnect to unremitting rage

A tiny brochure simply can’t cover the reality of postpartum depression, and, without the complete picture of what PPD can look and feel like, many women find themselves experiencing it without even knowing it.

What Causes PPD?

After childbirth, a woman experiences a dramatic drop in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which contributes to increased emotions. Other hormones produced by the thyroid gland also drop sharply, which can leave women feeling depressed and exhausted.

And speaking of being exhausted, new mothers are sleep-deprived. In the first six months of their baby’s life, it is not uncommon for a mother to only average 4 to 5 hours of (disjointed) sleep a night. Over time, this lack of sleep can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability and more. This, in combination with a hormonal shift, can lead to postpartum depression.

Though PPD can feel differently for each individual woman, here are a few of the most common experiences:

A Sense of Dread

Many new mothers experience an inexplicable and ominous feeling that something is just… not right. They have a sense of dread in the pit of their stomach that something terrible was about to happen. Some women may experience a racing heart and tightness in their chest.

A Huge Disconnect

Many new mothers find that they are able to carry out important daily tasks, but experience a sense of disconnection from their babies and their own sense of motherhood. Some women have described it as feeling numb. They made sure their babies were clean, warm and fed, but they had no real desire to cuddle with them or connect in any meaningful way.

Rage and Resentment

After giving birth, most mothers need a little R&R in the form of rest and relaxation. But many women are surprised when the R&R comes in the form of rage and resentment. This can be one of the hardest and scariest aspects of PPD to deal with.

The rage can be directed at all different kinds of things. You might feel rage about the expectations other people have of you. Rage about missing out on other parts of your life while you become a mother full-time. Rage about how intrusive your workplace is while you are away on leave. Rage for no apparent reason. And, sometimes the feelings of rage turn into feelings of resentment toward your newborn and husband.

Guilt

Of course, when a new mother feels rage, resentment, and detachment from her child, she naturally feels guilty for feeling these feelings that she doesn’t want to feel in the first place. A woman may also feel guilty about doing something for herself, even something as simple as taking a 10-minute bath. And, because PPD does not have to make any sense, a woman can even feel guilty about feeling guilty.

You are Not Alone

When it comes to motherhood, many women feel they have to be absolutely perfect. This makes admitting to anyone that they are suffering from PPD difficult, if not impossible. So, though they are suffering inside, women will put on a good face for the outside world and pretend they are fine – happy even.

It’s important that you never feel ashamed to speak your truth. You are not alone, and as soon as you can speak about your experience and what you are feeling, you begin your journey toward healing.

I would love to help you come out of the darkness and back into the light. This could mean simply listening to your story, helping you make lifestyle changes, or even discussing medication to get you through the rough patch.

If you’d like to explore treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted!

If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new parents, particularly new mothers who are breastfeeding, are often sleep-deprived. And this deprivation can last for a long time, with mothers registering “medically-significant levels of sleepiness” even after 18 weeks.

Besides having nightly sleep cycles interrupted with feedings every 2 – 4 hours (or 1-2 hours!), new mothers also experience a combination of euphoria and nervous energy, which can also keep them awake all night long.

The result?

They are zombies the next day – zombies who are still expected to take care of their newborns while working an outside the home job, or being a full-time mother and also expected to clean, go grocery shopping, etc.

But sleep deprivation can be very dangerous. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, people who sleep less than five hours per day are four to five times more likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash. This is because a lack of sleep hinders our physical coordination and reaction times as well as our ability to focus.

If you’re a new mother who would give her front teeth to get more sleep each day, here are 4 helpful strategies:

  1. Lie Down, Even If You Can’t Sleep

Sometimes, just getting off your feet for half an hour is enough to help your body relax and rejuvenate. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep, simply lie there and let your body relax.

Diana Lynn Barnes, president of Postpartum Health International, tells new mothers, “Get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone.”

  1. Get Some Help with Those Nighttime Feedings

One of the best ways to get a solid stretch of sleep is to get help from your husband, partner, in-law, friend, anyone who is willing to take on those nighttime feedings. It will be easier to hand over this job if you’re bottle-feeding, but even if you’re breastfeeding, you can pump so that someone else may feed the little one during the nighttime hours.

Or make things even easier on yourself by having your partner get the baby and bring your little one to you in your bed, and return your angel to their crib. That way you are at least partially sharing in the duties of nighttime feedings.

  1. Don’t Partake in Counterproductive Activities

It’s important that new mothers don’t unnecessarily sabotage their own efforts to get sleep. For instance, though it may be tempting to chug down a mug (or three) of coffee in the morning, overdoing it tends to mask your need for sleep and can actually prevent you from taking those much-needed cat naps when the baby is sleeping. It’s also worth mentioning that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing moms try to limit their caffeine consumption to one cup a day. That’s one small cup, not one vente latte.

Also, after a hard day of being a new mom, many women sit down in front of the TV or computer to unwind, but the light that is emitted from these devices is stimulating and typically keeps us awake and alert. It’s much better to take a warm bath, get into bed, read a physical book or magazine, and drift off to sleep.

  1. Realize Sleepless Nights Won’t Last Forever

Sometimes just the stress of what you’re going through is enough to keep you awake. Though being a mother to a newborn can be likened to a sweet form of torture, it won’t last forever. Remind yourself of this every chance you get.

As a new mother, it’s natural to be scared and worried about this new and significantly important role in your life. If you find that what’s keeping you up many nights are the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing as a new mother, talking with someone can help. If you’d like to explore therapy, please give me a call, and let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

3 Emotional Challenges of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom — And How to Overcome Them!

Being a stay-at-home mom can be very rewarding, but also incredibly challenging. There’s the guilt about not bringing home a paycheck combined with, at times, significant loneliness. If you’ve ever felt joy when a salesman shows up unannounced at your front door, you know what I’m talking about! OMG! An adult to talk to during the day! (Right? lol).

Here are three emotional challenges that come along with being a stay-at-home mom and how you can overcome them.

  1. The Frustration of Not Finishing What You Start

Before you became a mom, you were always on top of things. Not only did you work full time, you also managed to keep the house clean and have the laundry done as well.

Now it seems like you can’t finish one project.

There are always dirty dishes in the sink, laundry is clean but sitting in the drier becoming more and more wrinkled, cheerios adorn every flat surface of your once pristine car, and your family is subsisting on frozen pizzas because grocery shopping is often too much to handle.

It’s perfectly normal for mothers, especially new mothers, to constantly need to shift the hierarchy of their priority list.

Consider working with friends on larger projects you could use help with. If you need to completely clean out and reorganize the garage before summer, when bikes and kayaks and other sporting equipment must be accessible, call up a friend or two for help. You’ll get the job done faster and have some much-needed adult time.

Also, see if a friend or family member can watch the kids while you spend an hour or two a week grocery shopping. This will help you stock up on the supplies you need for the week, and also give you some time to be all by yourself!

And finally, see if you can get up before your children. Even an extra half hour in the morning will help you accomplish one extra task a day, and that will make you feel great (A lot easier said than done, though, especially if you have a newborn).

  1. Isolation and Boredom

You were once surrounded by people in your office, cracking jokes and giving presentations in a plush conference room. Now you spend most days looking for socks and having full-on conversations with yourself. Out loud.

Being a stay-at-home mom can be incredibly isolating. And, though raising children is, on one hand, very rewarding, if we’re going to be honest, there are plenty of days when the boredom is mind-numbing.

Though it isn’t always easy finding time to nurture your social needs, it’s important that you make socializing a priority. Plan regular grown-up gatherings. Take a class once a week, or even a couple of times a month. Walk around the neighborhood every night with a friend. It’s great to get together with other stay-at-home moms. Not only can you have fun, but you can support each other as well.

  1. Questioning Your Parenting Skills

Stay-at-home moms eat, sleep, and breathe being a parent. There is almost no break from it, which makes it very easy to become somewhat obsessed and begin to question every parenting decision you make.

Connecting with other stay-at-home moms, whether in person or in a chat room, will help you gain perspective on your situation. Also, when you begin to worry and obsess over a recent decision you’ve made, step back and look at the bigger picture. Instead of always asking, “Did I do this or that right,” begin asking, “Is my family happy and healthy?” If you can answer yes to those second questions, then you KNOW you’re doing plenty right!

Sometimes, talking with a neutral third party, like a family therapist, can help you gain perspective on your life and how being a stay-at-home mom is affecting you on a day-to-day basis. If you’re interested in talking with someone, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted!

If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new parents, particularly new mothers who are breastfeeding, are often sleep-deprived. And this deprivation can last for a long time, with mothers registering “medically-significant levels of sleepiness” even after 18 weeks.

Besides having nightly sleep cycles interrupted with feedings every 2 – 4 hours (or 1-2 hours!), new mothers also experience a combination of euphoria and nervous energy, which can also keep them awake all night long.

The result?

They are zombies the next day – zombies who are still expected to take care of their newborns while working an outside the home job, or being a full-time mother and also expected to clean, go grocery shopping, etc.

But sleep deprivation can be very dangerous. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, people who sleep less than five hours per day are four to five times more likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash. This is because a lack of sleep hinders our physical coordination and reaction times as well as our ability to focus.

If you’re a new mother who would give her front teeth to get more sleep each day, here are 4 helpful strategies:

  1. Lie Down, Even If You Can’t Sleep

Sometimes, just getting off your feet for half an hour is enough to help your body relax and rejuvenate. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep, simply lie there and let your body relax.

Diana Lynn Barnes, president of Postpartum Health International, tells new mothers, “Get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone.”

  1. Get Some Help with Those Nighttime Feedings

One of the best ways to get a solid stretch of sleep is to get help from your husband, partner, in-law, friend, anyone who is willing to take on those nighttime feedings. It will be easier to hand over this job if you’re bottle-feeding, but even if you’re breastfeeding, you can pump so that someone else may feed the little one during the nighttime hours.

Or make things even easier on yourself by having your partner get the baby and bring your little one to you in your bed, and return your angel to their crib. That way you are at least partially sharing in the duties of nighttime feedings.

  1. Don’t Partake in Counterproductive Activities

It’s important that new mothers don’t unnecessarily sabotage their own efforts to get sleep. For instance, though it may be tempting to chug down a mug (or three) of coffee in the morning, overdoing it tends to mask your need for sleep and can actually prevent you from taking those much-needed cat naps when the baby is sleeping. It’s also worth mentioning that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing moms try to limit their caffeine consumption to one cup a day. That’s one small cup, not one vente latte.

Also, after a hard day of being a new mom, many women sit down in front of the TV or computer to unwind, but the light that is emitted from these devices is stimulating and typically keeps us awake and alert. It’s much better to take a warm bath, get into bed, read a physical book or magazine, and drift off to sleep.

  1. Realize Sleepless Nights Won’t Last Forever

Sometimes just the stress of what you’re going through is enough to keep you awake. Though being a mother to a newborn can be likened to a sweet form of torture, it won’t last forever. Remind yourself of this every chance you get.

As a new mother, it’s natural to be scared and worried about this new and significantly important role in your life. If you find that what’s keeping you up many nights are the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing as a new mother, talking with someone can help. If you’d like to explore therapy, please give me a call, and let’s discuss how I may be able to help.