Whether it is your first Christmas together with your new baby,
Or you are currently pregnant and looking forward to becoming a new family next year, Christmas can be an exciting and magical time.
It may be something you’ve dreamed of for a long time but even so, it can be a stressful time that increases financial worries and can add pressure to have the “perfect Christmas.” A new baby or pregnancy can be a particularly challenging time as you adjust to big changes and the challenges (and tiredness) that accompany them. Statistics tell us that around 1 in 4 mums are diagnosed with either anxiety or depression which shows you that you are not alone if you are struggling. Additionally, according to the charity MIND, one in ten people feel unable to cope at this time of year, a figure which rises to a third of people if you are already experiencing problems with your mental health.
At Pregnancy Twinning, with our 1000dreams programme,we want to help you to look after yourself and prioritise you and your baby, irrespective of whether he or she has been born this Christmas. Thinking things through in advance can help you decide what kind of Christmas you want to have and plan for potential difficulties. The charity MIND suggests that prioritising self-care can help manage any symptoms you may already be having and can prevent problems developing or getting worse. We want you to take care of yourself during this time so your Christmas can be the special time you hope for. Here are a few suggested areas for you to consider;
1. Starting new traditions
Have a think about the traditions you enjoyed as a child and which you want to continue in your new family or any new ones that you want to introduce. If you have a partner remember that families do things differently so their family traditions might be different to yours. Talking these things through ahead of time can help you decide what your family Christmas will look like. Deciding beforehand when you will open your presents, or who will you spend Christmas day with for example, can make the run up to Christmas easier. If this is your first family Christmas remember to take some photos, even if you feel you aren’t looking your best, you’ll be glad you did. Some families like to buy (or make) a baby’s first bauble for their tree or make a visit to Father Christmas.
It’s natural to want to spoil your new baby but remember that they are more likely to be interested in the paper than the present! Don’t go overboard as babies are easily over-stimulated which could result in a grumpy baby later on in the day. Keep within a budget as the extra stress resulting from debt will impact both you and your baby for longer than the present entertains them. Suggest practical ideas to the wider family so you are not inundated with toys. When it comes to buying presents for others – keep as easy as possible as you will have an enough to think about – maybe online/gift voucher gifts are easier? People will generally understand that you already have enough on your plate. One easy idea is to buy a Christmas Pregnancy Twinning Gift for a loved one (see below) – this gift helps another pregnant woman in Malawi give birth safely – we’ll send a framed Christmas Pregnancy Twinning Certificate, either directly to your loved one, or if you prefer to you so that you can give it to them yourself.
Remember Christmas is a busy time. As new parents, you may be already be coping with a lot, if you are pregnant you are going through a lot of changes and probably tired and not feeling your best. Try not to arrange too much and schedule some down time so you have a chance to rest and recover. “Try the free ‘Oasis of Calm’ meditation” – free download below – as a way of carving out some much needed rest time, if you fall asleep whilst listening, that’s not a problem – you can try again tomorrow! Research shows that just 10 minutes of meditation a day can reduce stress and boost your sense of wellbeing, if you are pregnant then these benefits get passed on to your baby. Remember lots of people and noise can be tiring for you all of you. Don’t feel you have to do everything and resist over-scheduling. Practice saying no and putting healthy boundaries in place. As a present to yourself this year, think about what makes Christmas easiest for you and do it.
Try to keep your baby in some kind of routine a tired baby isn’t fun for anyone! Planning a schedule can be a lifesaver to give your days some structure but consider how much socialising to do, excess noise and germs are not great for a new baby or a pregnant mum. Travelling long distances to see friends and family might be stressful and tiring so consider if it is necessary. If you do go then plan regular stops and stock up well on practical items.
Above all Keep it Simple! Decide ahead of time how you want to celebrate the day,
Agree a budget for presents and stick to it, and most importantly
Plan time to look after yourself and don’t overdo it! Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a perfect day without hiccups.
Enjoy Christmas for what it is – a lovely experience as a new or expectant family but not without its challenges.
Blog series – stress at Christmas
The 1000 dreams programme focuses on supporting parents in the UK and several African countries. Recent scientific evidence shows just how important this first 1000 day period is – from conception to age 2 – so this series of blogs aims to help you with the following aspects of stress this Christmas:
Blog 2 – dealing with the different stresses as a new family this Christmas (this blog)
Blog 3 – reducing stress in wider family relationships (week 3)
Blog 4 – dealing with ‘holiday stress’ and managing conflicts (week 4)
Blog 5 – deciding to make changes in the New Year (week 4)
Each blog comes with some free relevant psychotherapeutic downloads to help you further – see below to download the free ‘Oasis of Calm’ recordings. And if you find you’re getting overwhelmed at any point then consider contacting our confidential counselling service – see details below.
Buy a gift for a love one - and save a life in Malawi!
You can help a mum, baby and her family in Malawi this Christmas by buying a gift for someone you love – family or friend – it’s a gift with a difference – a gift of new life! Not only does it help take the stress out of present buying, at the same time it helps someone in Malawi during pregnancy and childbirth. Its easy – for £44.95 your friend will receive a framed Pregnancy Twinning Certificate, featuring details of a mum and baby who are being helped, and a personalised Christmas letter delivered by first class post. Or you can have it sent to you, and you can give it to them personally at Christmas. And you and your friend will both know you have participated in ‘twinning pregnancies across the world’ – by helping to save a mum and baby’s life in Malawi.
Whilst pregnancy, new motherhood and Christmas are all supposed to be happy times, often they are not, and we’re too ashamed to seek help from family or through the NHS process. At 1000 dreams, we offer an online video counselling service, provided by qualified and registered Counsellors, which is confidential, and currently has a special offer of 50% off the price of an introductory session – it might provide just the sort of help you need.
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it can be helpful to try some of the techniques included in this 20 min recording. This includes 5* elements which all have been shown to help with relaxation. Do not drive whilst listening to these recordings as they can cause you to fall asleep!
Choose one of three places where you feel secure and happy – a beach or a countryside setting, or another place. (*based on breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness, visualisation and music)
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