3. Minimize the guilt Whether you have to make a big decision (going back to work) or a small one (hitting the replay button on the Baby Einstein video, again), it's hard not to drown in a wave of guilt. "Guilt goes with mothers like spit-up and shoulders," Spencer says, pretty much summing it up.
Kristin Swihart knows this all too well. "I used to feel bad because I wasn't the one caring for Jordan, my 4-year-old, when I was at work, but then I'd also feel guilty because I wanted to work," says the mom of two from North Ridgeville, Ohio.
Here's how: While you can't get rid of your feelings entirely, there is such a thing as productive guilt. "Good guilt is that nagging suspicion that makes you realize something isn't right, like if you're worried about your day-care situation," says Spencer. "That's when you have to see if it's your gut trying to tell you something bigger."
Most of the time, however, guilt is of the confidence-killing variety: You feel it about everything you do, no matter what you do. "So acknowledge the voice and move on," says Spencer. "The more you practice setting it aside, the easier it becomes to do it regularly."
4. Take care of yourself As a new mom, there are days when sleeping, eating and showering seem like luxuries you'll never experience again. But running yourself ragged can leave you with more than a crippling coffee addiction -- it can amplify your self-doubt. "I'm more vulnerable to insecurity when I'm sleep-deprived," says Jennifer Curtis, a mom of two from Whitman, Massachusetts. "I'll worry that I haven't eaten enough protein to make healthy breast milk and that I'll end up on the front page for starving my baby."
Here's how: Start sleeping 10 hours every night. Just kidding. But you do need rest -- whether it's a nap or some alone time. "There's nothing wrong with saying, 'I'm going to get a babysitter for an hour so I can go for a walk or get my nails done.' These breaks don't take that long, and they make a big difference in how you feel," says Newman.
For Ashley Bryan of Henderson, Nevada, this worked wonders. "Right after having my twins I was a complete wreck: I holed myself up in my house and stayed in my pajamas," she recalls. "But before my first doctor visit, I had my mom watch the girls while I put on makeup and got dressed. It made me feel competent at a time when I really doubted myself and my abilities as a mother."