A study released last week¹ in Child Development provides new evidence that a mom’s ability to respond appropriately to her baby’s cries depends on her level of depression and her own childhood experiences.
The healthiest way to respond to an upset baby (quickly, consistently and warmly) was associated with mothers with healthier emotional development. Mothers who are depressed or who have problems regulating their emotions are more likely to focus on themselves and their own stress, rather than on the needs of the baby.¹
My two cents: New moms don’t want to focus on themselves, especially in something like therapy. This new study indicates yet another reason why taking a little time to be selfish and stay healthy is BEST FOR BABY. What keeps you healthy and balanced? In my private practice in San Diego, I help new and expecting parents figure out how to keep an optimal balance. When we become a new parent, especially for mothers taking a break from the workforce, our identities shift enormously. We go overnight from being a competent professional to a novice in a high-stress, high-stakes role. Sometimes something that seems frivolous, like playing music, dancing or making art is the lifeline that will help us be the best parents possible. Sometimes I help my clients figure out how to “mother the mother,” or learn taking care of their own unmet needs.
Question: What helps you feel like “you,” the best possible you?
¹Source: Esther M. Leerkes et al. Antecedents of Maternal Sensitivity During Distressing Tasks: Integrating Attachment, Social Information Processing, and Psychobiological Perspectives. Child Development, September 2014