Becoming a new mom is an exciting and scary time. For some, instant love and bond are felt. Others have anxiety about how to all sudden care for something so small that fully depends on you. Social media paints a picture of glowing excitement and what motherhood and the pregnancy process look like. It doesn’t feel like that for everyone.
Every pregnancy, birth, and newborn experience is unique. While it’s often an exciting time filled with love, there can also be heartache and rough times. If you’re not loving new motherhood like you thought you should and wanted to, it’s okay. Keep reading to learn what to do in those instances.
1. Address Your Mental Health
During the pregnancy process, delivery, and post-delivery, you go through a ton of physical changes and medical procedures. You and the baby are checked constantly, being poked and prodded to make sure you both are physically healthy. With massive life changes, such as becoming a mother, there are natural stressors that come up as well. That’s on top of being flooded with hormones. Make sure to address your mental health along with your physical needs during this time.
Some women might experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy. Some have a difficult time seeing the beauty in their changing body as it gets larger. After birth, women can also experience postpartum anxiety and depression. You don’t have to suffer through this; in fact, it’s brave to ask for help and seek mental health treatment. There are many types of prescription medications that can help patients experiencing this.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis or have suicidal thoughts, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Line at 988.
2. Talk About Your Feelings
New motherhood can feel lonely and isolating at times. You’re no longer on your own schedule, and life changes. Social media can make it feel like this time should be all sunshine and roses. The reality is, you’re exhausted, stressed, and healing from a major medical event, and you’re learning to care for another life. It’s okay, to be honest about what’s hard as well as what’s wonderful.
Talk to your friends, spouse, and other mothers about how you’re feeling. Those who are moms as well will understand and might even share stories with you that you’ve never heard. If talking to loved ones doesn’t feel like enough, you can also reach out to a skilled counselor or therapist. They can help you work through this huge life transition.
3. Separate Loving Your Kids and Loving Motherhood
Just because you don’t love motherhood doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. Try to separate those feelings. It’s not all or nothing. You can be a wonderful mother without loving all the things that come with motherhood. Some moms relish maternity leave so much they decide to become stay-at-home moms, and that’s 100% okay.
Other moms feel miserable and overwhelmed during maternity leave and can’t wait to go back to work. That’s okay too, and there are many great daycares to help while you work. Grandparents can usually help as well. Some dads are stay-at-home parents too. Whether you’re home caring for your child or making an income to support your family, you are a good parent.
4. Run Your Own Race
Try to get out of the game of comparisons. And be mindful when you find yourself judging other parents. Give your child love, nurturing, and support, and meet their basic needs. Doing these things keeps them healthy. Show up for your child the best way you can and gain tools to continue growing in this new role.
Don’t worry about what super mom or dad on Facebook or Instagram is doing. And don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Just because others are doing huge first birthday parties doesn’t mean you have to. After all, the baby won’t remember it. What they will remember and what their bodies absorb is your love.
Also, remember that you are still you while going into this new phase of life. If you’ve always hated cooking, baking, and crafts, you won’t magically become Martha Stewart when you become a mom.
5. Find Happiness in What You Do Enjoy
Chances are even if you don’t love motherhood like you expected there are still moments that bring you joy. Focus on those and relish in it. When your baby falls asleep on your chest in the rocking chair and makes that coo do you just melt? Do you love how they splash and giggle at bathtime? Think of these moments during the rough times.
It’s easy to think about all the ways we or the experience falls short of our expectations. Instead of focusing on why it isn’t what you hoped, look at the positives. It can help change your perspective and attitude.
Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience. In many ways, it’s wonderful, but there can also be a grief process as you mourn your past self. It’s a huge shift in identity and also full of unmet expectations. Everyone’s journey is unique, so be kind to yourself and give yourself grace.
It’s okay if you’re not loving new motherhood as you’d hoped. Focus on loving your child and the rest will fall into place with the tips above.