My name is Julia Anderson and I am a third-year occupational therapy student at Creighton University. In this last semester of school, I am diving deep in the role of occupational therapy in topics such as maternal, pelvic, and women’s health. I am completing part of my time here at Thrive OT to gain further knowledge on these topics and gain more hands on experience. These blog pieces are reflections of what I have learned so far and would love to share with all of you.

When a baby is born, so is a mother. This is a transition I have been able to witness first hand with both of my sisters. For each of them, life shifted as they had a new role and new responsibilities. I remember clearly talking to my sister and her sharing “I love my baby so much, but I don’t know why I don’t want to hold him all the time.” She held guilt for these feelings and felt that she did not have a reason for them. She later came to find a term that fit for her situation, it was “touched out.”

Being a parent can lead to feeling overwhelmed, touched out, and overstimulated. As a parent, you are often exposed to loud sounds from children, clutter, having less time alone, more touch from another person, and less sleep. On top of this, you are also learning how to care for a child along with your existing personal responsibilities. With all these factors, it can be difficult manage the sensory input you are receiving all day as a parent.

You are receiving sensory input in a variety of ways such as:

  • Sight: Watching your child closely, trying to watch more than one child simultaneously, visual clutter around your environment.
  • Sound: Listening to your baby cry, children scream, house appliances running.
  • Touch: Breastfeeding your child, cuddling with your child, holding your child, rough play with older children.
  • Smell: The smell of diapers, dirty laundry, strong household scents like cleaning products.
  • Interoception: Interoception is interpreting the senses we receive from inside our body. You may be re-establishing how your body feels during post-partum. Senses include full bladder, hunger, and pain.

Overstimulation is often the result of these additional sensory inputs. For my sister, after breastfeeding, bathing her baby, taking care of her dogs, and completing house chores, the additional sensory input of holding her baby more put her into a state of overstimulation.

Your sensory needs can also differ from the sensory needs of your children. Examples include children who seek movement while a parent needs to be still for a moment. Or children who seek to touch you while a parent needs to spend time alone or not have constant touch. In a study by Karen Turner who researched the sensory need differences between parents and children, a parent shared she often uses her internal resources to cope with meeting her child’s needs. Many parents may agree they take care of their child’s care and sensory needs before their own. This can often contribute to the feeling of overstimulation as well.

You deserve to care for your sensory needs as parent too! Building sensory strategies into your daily routine can ensure you are caring for both person’s needs.

These sensory strategies may include:

  • Reducing excess noise
  • Practicing deep breathing when actively overstimulated
  • Going outside
  • If possible, taking a moment alone

Skilled occupational therapists are perfectly poised to help you implement sensory tips into your life. Occupational therapists are trained to understand the sensory and nervous system and strategies to manage sensory inputs. Small modifications in your daily routine or environment to support your sensory needs can help you reduce your overstimulation and foster the relationship between you and your child. Our goal is to empower you as a parent!


Branjerdporn, G., Meredith, P., Strong, J., & Green, M. (2019) Sensory sensitivity and its relationship with adult attachment and parenting styles. PLoS ONE 14(1).

Gafni-Lachteer, L., Kailkian, J., Korngold-Dvid, V., Dahan, G., & Ben-Sasson, A. (2022). The association between sensory traits and daily parenting challenges of typical mothers and their children. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 85(6).

Turner, A., Cohn, E., & Koomar, J. (2012). Mothering when mothers and children both have sensory processing challenges. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(10).