How this photo doesn’t tell the whole story of being a new mom
When we see photos of new babies and their moms on Facebook or Instagram, the moms are usually smiling and the babies are looking adorable. What we don’t see is the other side of being a new mom: exhaustion, frustration, and being overwhelmed. Perhaps it’s because we don’t see other mothers experiencing the hard parts of motherhood that when we have those experiences, we tend to keep it to ourselves and rarely seek help. In my research with mothers who experienced sadness and/or depression after childbirth, less than half of new moms ever talked to anyone about it. Not their doctors, not their friends, not even their partners.
It’s true that being a new mom can be exciting, rewarding, and life-changing but we need to be more open about the times we want to cry, scream, or run away and change our names.
I meet several postpartum women in my office every month who are feeling shame and guilt about the negative feelings that come with stress and big life changes, such as having to care for a helpless newborn. I find that a lot of that shame and guilt comes from false beliefs. The belief that other moms aren’t struggling; the belief that other moms are always just as happy and confident as they appear on social media.
It makes me want to shout from the rooftop…
Being a mom is hard!
Sometimes it seems like you have no idea what you’re doing!
You cry at the strangest times!
You are not alone!
You are completely normal!
However, due to zoning restrictions and fear of arrest, I don’t shout these things from the rooftop; I blog. I do encourage you to openly talk about all aspects of motherhood and when others hint that they’re struggling, please listen. This means you too, partners and husbands!
A final thought…while feelings of sadness and worry are normal for anyone in 12 months following the birth of a child. If you have thoughts about harming yourself, your child, or anyone, please seek medical or mental health attention immediately. The simplest way to do this is to call 911.