Managing the stress of newborns and preemies

lovin_sleepNothing can really prepare you for having a newborn.  It is like nothing ever experienced. Even if you have older children, every baby is different and brings new challenges.  Having multiples is an even greater challenge, and even more challenging is having those multiple babies early.  Some of the tips in this article you may have heard before, however some I hope are new.

What not to do:

  1. DO NOT blame yourself for any mistakes you think you are making.  It is all part of the learning process.
  2. DO NOT go it alone.  Get any and all help that you can.  Even contact your insurance company to see about any home care you might be eligible for if you have no other support.
  3. DO NOT isolate yourself from friends or family.  Use support groups online, it will help you feel less alone.  Reach out to whomever you can.

What will have the most impact:

  1. Use the time you have to relax and even meditate if possible.  Even 5 minutes of meditation can have more benefits than x number of hours sleep.  Try the one I recorded at and scroll to the bottom for the link.
  2. Eat and drink!  Not just your babies need nourishment, so do you!  Make smoothies for yourself with protein powder if eating is too hard or time consuming.
  3. Tell yourself everyday that you are doing the best that you can.  Tomorrow will come and you will trudge ahead.

Special considerations:

For some carrying multiples, you might have your babies early.  These babies may have special needs for a while.  And they might even spend time in the NICU, while you get to go home.  You might even be able to take one home, while having to leave one or more at the hospital.   One thing to remember about having to go home without your babies, is that you need to use that home time to your advantage.  Sleep, bathe and eat.  When you go to the hospital you can better focus on being there for your babies.  The small amount of respite you get while at home will help you deal with the stress of going to the hospital and dealing with all that comes with it.  Take advantage of any newborn classes or groups.  Use the hospital social worker for any help you need with services.

When to look for outside help:

Post partum depression is real.  It is not weakness.  It is not a sign of a bad person, or mother.  It may start as a slow feeling that you are not ready to be a mom.  It may be an absence of a connection for your babies.  This is not your fault.  This is the powerful nature of hormones and what they do to your fragile mental state after birth.  Utilize online support groups for post partum depression.  Also contact your insurance company for a mental health professional referral specializing in post partum depression.  The hospital may also have referrals for you.

Your health can only take a back seat to your babies and children for so long.  At some point it will only hinder your ability to parent the way you want to.  Sleep deprivation with the overload of trying to meet your babies needs are a combination for mental overload.  Your body is trying to heal after the birth and getting your body and mind to relax even a little bit everyday will go a long way.  You deserve to take care of yourself and this will help your babies.

Lenore Pranzo, MA, LMFT, Cht, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Hypnotherapist in Redding, CT with a private practice in her home and an office in Trumbull.  She is a mother of 6-year-old twin boys. She works with couples, teens, groups and individuals on issues including substance abuse, fertility, anxiety, depression, marital strain, and stress management.  Her website is and phone is 203.274.0158.


Parenting and stress on the marriage

As a mother of twin 4 year old boys and a Marriage and Family Therapist I am constantly trying to evaluate the way I deal with my husband and children. Daily I think ‘is this the best way to handle this?”, “would I be a good example for my kids or clients?,” Well the answer varies depending on the day. We all know as parents that life happens and we do and say things that don’t align with who we think we are or want to be.

The great thing is each new day we can start again and try to align our values with our actions. How am I supposed to that when I spend every minute of the day just trying to put out fires, stop fights, drive kids to activities, feed babies and clean up the inevitable messes that arise with kids, especially multiples? Yeah I know. However you can. It just takes a little upfront planning. Just like sleep training the kids, short term pain to get to long term gain.

So what is the plan Lenore? It varies with the individual, however here are some ideas:

  • Open communication (how to parent as a team, share responsibilities, etc.)
  • Start dating your spouse again (if you are a single parent then get out on your own)
  • Stress reduction activities

Here is a term that is overused ‘open communication’. As in any cliché there is a core of truth here. To me it means taking time, even five to ten minutes a week to discuss where the kids are in terms of development and how you want to work together on parenting them. For instance with babies the plan would be around schedules, food, socializing, how much to expose to other children, grandparents, etc. Toddlers, how much tv, socializing, sleep routine, potty training, etc. And so on. It also means discussing the roles you each have in the family and how they are working for you both.

Honestly we all go through the day and it turns into a week, months, years and wonder how far apart we are from our spouse, significant other or even oneself in terms of how we wanted things to turn out. To stop periodically and do a check in will help to ensure that all things that you and the family are doing are again aligned with your values.

Going on dates again with your spouse will ensure that you retain that connection with the person you chose to have children with and spend your life. Once a week is ideal, yet not completely reasonable for us all. Once a month is critical. Even if it is going for a walk, hike, bike ride, coffee date, lunch, dinner, movie, or whatever you did before family chaos. On a side note there are studies that say if you do something that gets your heart rates up together it bonds you more. For instance, seeing a scary movie together, or going to an amusement park and riding roller coasters. Always worth a try however no scary movies for me thank you.

Now don’t forget to get some ‘me’ time. A little stress reduction activity goes a long way. Anything that gets you to clear your mind and lessen the strain that comes with parenting. One thing I find that works really well for me and my clients is meditation and breathing exercises are amazing at calming the world down around you. Also finding people to talk to like other mothers/fathers (or mothers/fathers of multiples) to get that feeling that you are not alone.

What if you are so stressed and don’t believe that things can get better? Well, sometimes they just do as the kids get older. Sometimes they don’t. When do you need help from a professional?

Seek help – ask for a referral from your doctor, look for a therapist on CTAMFT website (CT Association of Marriage and Family Therapy), your insurance referral list, EAP (Employee Assistance Program), or clergy. Don’t suffer in silence.

Lenore Pranzo, MA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Redding, CT with a private practice in her home and is a mother of 4 year old twin boys. She works with couples, teens, groups and individuals on issues including substance abuse, fertility, anxiety, depression, marital strain, and stress management.