"Every time my baby cries (like 5,000 times a day!), my blood pressure goes through the roof."
Hey, it's natural to freak out when your newborn starts wailing! You'd have to have the nerves of a bomb-squad pro not to let it get to you. But with a little experience, that's just what you'll develop (or close to it). "As stressful as it is right now, you'll soon learn that your baby is not going to die from crying -- and that even if you can't respond right away, it's not going to hurt her," says pediatrician Jennifer Shu, MD, coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics). "That realization saved my sanity," says Dawn Raab, of Euclid, Ohio. "I worried that if I didn't pick up my son, David, right away, I would mess him up for life. But that meant I never had time to do anything. Finally, I put him in his swing just outside the bathroom so I could watch him while taking a shower. He wailed the whole time, but it was such a relief to know that he could wait a few minutes and be okay -- and still know that Mommy loves him."
Also, don't assume that your baby is crying because she's truly sad or distressed. "It's easy to feel this way because that's why we cry. However, infants do it to communicate all sorts of things -- that they're tired, cold, wet, bored, hungry, or overstimulated. Rather than worrying that something is really wrong, think of crying as her way of talking to you." As you develop a routine with your baby, you'll often be able to figure out what she needs just by the sound of her sobs.
What if she cries all...the...time, or you can't decide what the heck is wrong -- and you still find yourself at wits' end? Dr. Shu recommends leaving her in a safe place and taking some time to regain your composure. That's what worked for mom of two Anita Lavine, of Seattle: "There was one week when my daughter Faye screamed -- and I'm talking ear-piercing, uncontrollable screaming -- for hours on end. I would call my husband, crying, and hold the phone so he could hear what I was going through. By Friday I couldn't take it anymore. I put her in her crib and went into the kitchen to try to pull myself together. A few minutes later, she stopped! I realized that seeing me stressed and upset just fueled her fire. But when I left her alone -- and played it cool when I did go back to her -- she calmed down."