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How some stress can help you—and your baby—flourish

Devise the perfect plan to promote motor and social development in your soon-to-be babe.

How some stress can help you—and your baby—flourish

Plan to kick up your feet for the last bit of your pregnancyto relax while you still can?


If you are fortunate enough to have flexibilityin your work, or will be starting your new role as a stay-at-home mom a littleearly, we congratulate you! Take that rest while you can!

Before you decide to turn your life into acompletely stress-free zone for the last portion of your pregnancy, though, youmay want to listen to these fascinating new findings onyour newborn’s motor and social development.

It turns out that some stress during pregnancy is related to better motor development by the time baby turns one year.

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When you get workedup, mama, your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol. Althoughchronic stress can have negative effects on your body, it is thought that cortisolmay have a positive effect on baby’s motor development during the lasttrimester in the womb. The saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes youstronger” comes to mind!

Interestingly, maternal stress after baby’s birth is detrimentally related to motor development at one year.

Meeting a newborn’s needs are hard enough, but when you throw incleaning, work, relational conflict, or other daily stressors, it can be toughto provide a positive, stimulating environment for baby. Moral of the story,mama? Try not to sweat everything. Thedishes will get done, the e-mails will get answered, and your romantic lifewill find its groove again…eventually.

Your priorities right now are to provideyour newborn with love, play, laughter, and (of course) food! Your best chanceof providing this nurturing environment is to de-stress whenever you have thechance during this hectic time in your life.

Gettingas much sleep as possible and trying to enjoy a relaxing pastime can even helpwith milk production if you are breastfeeding, which can also play a rolein baby’s physical andmotor development.

My personal favorite is cross-stitching and watchingreruns on Netflix while baby sleeps, but, hey, every mama has her own littlejoys in life.

As for you daddies, don’t think you are off the hook! Sure,you can do your part to de-stress your partner (foot rub, anyone?)…but rememberthat you are an integral part of baby’s development, too!

Indeed, research indicates that a father’s stress after the arrival of a new baby is negatively related to baby’s socio-emotional development at one year.

Whether you are busy with work orstressed about the many new changes that come with fatherhood, an inability toprovide social interaction with your little one can have detrimental effects ontheir social development. If you need another reason to drop everything andplay with your tiny tot, keep in mind how relaxing and enjoyable it can be tohang out with your favorite little person. Just feeeeel the stress melt away.

Just remember, the human body is fully equippedto cope with stress, and there is no time more stressful than the period after bringinghome a newborn. As long as you are not adding to this stress by demanding toomuch of yourself, you and baby will both be just fine! We wish you luck inharnessing your stress to give baby the best chance for healthy motor andsocial development!

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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