“Having kids made me clearer about who I was as a woman. I just wanted to exhibit good qualities for my daughter.”
— Reese Witherspoon
"The world totally stops…It’s really hard to explain how much you fall in love with this person."
— Veteran Mom
It’s natural for new moms to feel a loss of control over their life as their world adapts to caring for a baby nonstop (and the isolation it can bring). This is one of the hardest aspect for new moms: accepting how massively your life changes with no turning back. And you may also feel that while your life has dramatically changed, Dad’s day-to-day adjustments aren’t as drastic, which can trigger feelings of resentment and frustration.
So, a major milestone for new moms is accepting there will be good days and there will be bad days and having a bad day does not make you a bad mom. All relationships have ups and downs. It’s like any other aspect of life: Do you always love being a wife? An employee? How often do you have a relationship that is smooth sailing 100% of the time 24-7? Rarely, if ever. Everyone goes through times. And don’t base your notion of motherhood on the media or Facebook, because, of course, that’s not an accurate read on what motherhood is really like. Remember that social media is highly curated, and people usually only share a shiny, manicured version of life and not the difficult stuff.You’ll want to keep this on your radar so you know to remind yourself the feelings are normal and mothers all over the planet are going through it too.
“It’s totally normal to have a hard time adjusting to motherhood at first—not everything comes naturally and not everyone snaps into ‘mom mode’ the second they give birth. The same goes for feeling an instant connection to your baby. Give yourself a break, and remember your body is going through a lot of hormonal shifts that will eventually pass. But if the feelings don’t go away, or if they’re too difficult to handle, consider talking to a professional who is able to get to the root of the problem.”
— Veteran Mom
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“Women are having kids later in life…I was 35 when I got pregnant. You have an established life, career, and identity and now you’ve got this little person who was a million percent desperately wanted, but I just didn't realize how much of an impact on my life it would be, how much change. I wasn't resentful just so overwhelmed.”
— Veteran Mom
Amanda: Be Happy - Paint the Fence (1:33)
Edel & Ryan: Have a "Safe Word" (1:04)
While it’s true that motherhood rearranges your life, there are things you can do to manage the day-to-day impact.
- Talk about it. Holding things in just ups the stress so let Dad in on what’s going on so he’s able to support you (and he really wants to!). Regular check-ins with each other—even when it’s smooth sailing—will make it easier to keep communication strong even through the tough spots.
- Find your tribe. Being with other new moms, either one-on-one or in groups, will keep you feeling sane and supported. It also gets you out of the house, changes up the routine, and reminds you you’re not alone.
- Take time for yourself. It reduces stress, keeps things in perspective, and replenishes your mind and body: napping, exercising, reading, meditating, seeing a friend, going for a drive, wandering around Target—whatever works, that’s your ticket. Vet moms say this is harder to do (and even more important) than it sounds, so make a conscious decision to prioritize self-care and lean on your partner so you’re pushing through the challenges together.
Also, you’ve probably heard people say how fast kids grow, but it’s hard to imagine when you’re in the thick of it. Still, it’s absolutely true—ages and stages pass quickly. The stress you’re feeling in those first couple months is short term, so hold on tight and know this too shall pass.
READ! Stress-Busters for New Moms!
The Guilt Can Eat You Alive
Alecia Li Morgan answers the question: “What are the most difficult things you have experienced in your parenthood?”
“…Here’s the most difficult thing I’ve experienced as a parent: Guilt. Parenting guilt comes in a wide array of varieties and styles. It comes from within you. It comes from your well-intentioned friends and family. It comes from the (often ill-intentioned) media. It comes from celebrities. It comes from strangers on the street. It comes from the mommies in the moms' group. It comes from the daddies at work. It comes from your parents. It comes from everything around you. And it’ll eat you alive from the inside out…if you let it.
As a working mother, I felt horrible guilt about leaving my young son for 8-10 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. I felt horrible guilt about being so exhausted when I was at home that I couldn’t be the parent I had imagined myself being. I felt guilty leaving him with someone other than myself, even when that someone was my mother-in-law, who loved him dearly…As a stay at home mom, I felt horrible guilt sometimes from outside sources who seem to think that I’ve taken the easy road or was caving to outdated social pressures…As a formula-feeding mother who’d tried and failed at breastfeeding, I felt horrible guilt about not being able to do what was best for my child. I felt judged, I felt like a failure...As a breastfeeding mother, I felt guilty when I needed to nurse my son in public. I felt like people are judging me, and I hated the looks, or worse, the comments that people made…
The guilt is and has been the toughest thing for me in parenthood thus far. And what I’d tell new parents is this: Start fighting the guilt. Start trusting yourself. Don’t be complacent; you should always strive to learn more, be more, understand more, and teach more, but don’t let the guilt get hold of you. Stick up for what you believe in, for the way you choose to parent, for the love you have for your child. Give yourself props and kudos for the amazing job you do. Don’t kill yourself over the mistakes or the wish-I’d-done-this-betters. They’ll happen. Learn from them, and move on.
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“There were days when I just felt like at the end of the day I should lie naked on the bed and tell my family, ‘Go ahead, take whatever you want.’ It felt like my body just wasn’t mine.”
— Mom of Baby & Toddler
- Keep Dad in the loop. This is a must because it prevents him from taking it personally when you’re cringing at his touch. Plus, he can’t support you if he doesn’t know what’s going on, so let him know it’s sensory overload as a natural response from being touched 24-7.
- Shake it off and recharge. By any means necessary, find a way to decompress. Whatever window of personal space you can get (shower, bath, nap), take it. You’d be surprised how much a 15-minute shower can do for you.
Staying aware of your feelings, communicating with your partner, and self-care will go a long way in seeing you through this temporary state. Eventually, you’ll have survived the touched-out baby and toddler years and long for your teenager to just acknowledge you’re related!