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New Parent Jitters: Don't Be Scared, Mom!

Nervous about bathing or carrying your newborn? We'll help you feel at ease during the early days of parenthood.
woman holding baby

True confession: When it came time to leave the hospital with my baby girl and care for her on my own, I was convinced that I'd do everything wrong. Even the most basic tasks (carrying Amelia around the house, changing her diaper, driving her to the pediatrician) terrified me. It's a classic rookie-mom reaction. "New motherhood brings an enormous sense of responsibility," says Diane Sanford, Ph.D., coauthor of Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide. "You're also exhausted, which makes everything nerve-racking."

Add in postpartum hormones surging through your body, and your mind can start playing tricks on you. New moms have more oxytocin in their system, which serves to heighten their response to hearing their baby cry or seeing her in distress. But it also causes "the fight or flight response to kick in more easily, triggering the release of stress hormones -- which can make you feel even more anxious," Dr. Sanford says.

What's a newly minted mama to do? First, take a deep breath. Then heed this advice on how to perform angst-provoking tasks like a pro.