What is it about humans that makes them always want to seem like they have it allll figured out?
I think the pressure is even more real now that it’s assumed that you can find the answer to everything on that tiny, high-speed computer that’s never not at your fingertips.
But let’s think way back to how we learned our earliest and most important skills, now that our own parenting journeys have begun (or are about to begin). How did we learn to speak? How did we learn to use the bathroom, read people’s emotions, and react appropriately?
We spent time talking and socializing with others.
The Internet may be hurting in another way, as well. Almost everyone presents a glossy, filtered, and carefully curated version of their lives to their friends and acquaintances, if not through social media apps like Instagram and Facebook then through other more private modes of sharing (and boasting proudly).
Just as magazine ads have aimed to make everyday folks feel they need to constantly be buying something to live a better life (and that their current life is sorely lacking) for decades, perhaps social media is just another way of making others feel they could always – or even should always – be doing better.
Well, let’s turn it around. Let’s use the Internet to get honest and real and hopefully even helpful about what it’s like to be a new parent.
You’re not alone if it’s not what you expected or the most basic stuff is quite overwhelming. Speak up, ask for help, and know you’re not alone as you read about 15 daily struggles new moms are sometimes afraid to talk about.
15 Bumps Down Under
Many humans poop at least once a day. (See? We’re getting down to #realtalk right off the bat!)
Many women face the quite uncomfortable occurrence of hemorrhoids during pregnancy or immediately following labor and childbirth.
For these gals, it’s one more thing to make the postpartum days and weeks (and sometimes months) a bit more challenging and uncomfortable than they ever anticipated.
It’s hard enough to find time to go to the bathroom by yourself when you must feed and change and soothe a newborn every two hours. If you rush, you may strain and make things worse. Wiping up can take longer and be more complicated (and painful).
In many cases, time will heal all.
You don’t hear a lot of new moms discussing this, though, right? But if you’re dealing with it, you’re one of MANY.
14 No Connection With Baby
Some women do experience “love at first sight” when they behold their beautiful babies for the first time. The connection is instant, the bond is strong, and it only gets stronger from there as mom becomes the main source of protection, food, and comfort for baby.
But it is not at all unheard of for new mothers to not feel “bonded” to their babies right away. And they may feel bummed about this if they think they are “supposed to” immediately have this strong connection.
The truth is that sometimes it just takes some time.
Consult with a doctor for any concerns about not feeling bonded to a new baby, as well as any questions and concerns about your health, both mental and otherwise.
And there’s no reason to feel weird about it, even if it’s challenging. Ask around, and if the women you know are answering honestly, there’s probably at least one or two who felt it took a bit of time and practice to form that motherly bond.
13 Breastfeeding Not Going As Planned
It quite often takes a bit of practice and even some guidance and learned know-how to breastfeed. With helpful nurses and lactation consultants around, new mothers are sometimes able to get started and learn as they go from there. And even then, there are sometimes a few hiccups along the way.
Some women don’t end up feeding this way at all.
And whether due to their own expectations or their perceived expectations of others, some gals wind up worrying that feeding isn’t going the way they expected, or even just realizing that breastfeeding isn’t as easy and natural and effortless as they thought it was supposed to be.
It sometimes takes work and quite often takes patience. It can be profoundly beautiful as well as incredibly challenging.
Hopefully new moms ask for help when needed without pause! La Leche League and other groups are there to help (along with nursing consultants and doctors).
12 Not In The Mood
It can be the contrast that really bums some brand-new moms out. During pregnancy, they may have wanted to do it more often than ever before.
After baby (and after being cleared to be physical at a postpartum checkup with their doctor), some new moms find that they have no drive. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Here they’ve been given the OK by the doctor, perhaps decided on an appropriate form of birth control, and yet… nothin’.
Well moms shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. And when in doubt, why not keep an honest and open conversation with your partner and your doctor?
It’s normal! Hormones are at play. Breastfeeding may be, as well. Sleeplessness can be a huuuuuge factor, too.
Women, with patience, are often able to give things time and feel like their normal selves again before too long.
11 Food As The Only Comfort
I’m pretty convinced that many people who struggle with overeating and weight problems also have some degree of sleep issue happening. This is not something I can back up at all, and I’m not a scientist. I’m a writer.
But when you’re tired, isn’t it easy to crave and then eat excess carbs, sugary foods – anything that your body can immediately convert to energy? Well, we all know new parents are often tired…
And when you’re a new mom, if you find yourself really struggling to make healthy food choices – perhaps feeling like you don’t even have time to do anything more than cram the nearest thing in your mouth – you’re one of many.
Having assistance from a partner or other helper to quickly and dependably provide you with healthy snacks, water refills, and meals can be so clutch.
10 Mom's New Shape And Size
Body image can be a real struggle for some. I try, always, to write about this topic very, very carefully, because the issue, to me, seems like one of those things that can spread like an infectious disease.
If we focus too much on issues of weight and shape and size, I fear that we send the message to our children and friends and relations that these issues are THE most important thing, and that those who are predisposed to develop disorders related to eating and exercise may be tipped over to the dark side.
But with that said, no one should feel the need to hide it if they are struggling. It is very common for both women and men to go through rough periods of life in which they feel bad about themselves due to body image issues.
Talking to a doctor, dietician, and mental health professional shouldn’t be shied away from!
And being patient and loving with yourself when you’re a new mom trying to find balance in life are musts.
9 Ideals Of Motherhood Come Crashing Down
Sometimes, for either a handful or a plethora of reasons, a new mother’s expectations of what it would be like to have a baby don’t end up quite matching the reality. Basically, it’s just not quite how they pictured it.
If you think about it, though, do many big and important things in life tend to play out this way to some extent?
How about someone’s first time being physically intimate? What about what it was like to head off to college? No matter how many times a person pictures and imagines how something will go, they’ll never quite know what it will be like until the moment has finally arrived.
This is part of the beauty of life.
When things don’t go as expected, we improvise. When challenges come up, we use our skills – and learn new ones – to overcome them.
And while some parts may be harder, grosser, or lonelier than we ever expected, others may be more magical, fulfilling, and exciting than we could have anticipated.
Enjoy the ride.
8 No Sleep Solutions In Sight
Some moms continue to (unsafely, according to official guidelines) co-sleep, rock their babies to sleep, and generally go through a crazy song and dance to get their baby to catch a little shuteye each and every night for the better part of a year… and sometimes even beyond. And sometimes also for naps.
Why would they do this? I feel like they sometimes fall into a routine out of desperation and get more and more unsure what to do to escape it and less and less likely to admit they haven’t done things the way you’re “supposed” to and ask for help.
Sleep training is intimidating, and people have strong opinions about it. But ask your child’s pediatrician, and he’ll likely recommend beginning to encourage your child to learn to fall asleep on his own from a very young age. It makes life a whole lot easier.
And until you do that, your life can be one sleepy blur.
7 Lonely, But Never Alone
How can you be lonely when you never – ever – have a minute alone because you’re always with your newborn baby?
Oh, you can, and quite easily.
Because although a newborn baby provides a new kind of connection, closeness, and love, it’s not the bond and conversation and sharing and understanding and support of hanging out with other adult humans.
New moms can feel isolated to the extreme. In the spare minute you might find to make a phone call, you’re scared to wake up the baby (or NEED to try to shut your eyes yourself for a few precious seconds). When you try to get in a quick text to connect with a family member or friend, you have to turn and deal instead with a diaper blowout or shoving a snack in your famished mouth.
It can be a lot of time at home alone, and loneliness is real.
6 Always Trapped At Home
“Is it just me, or is it fricking impossible to make it out of the house?!” you may find yourself asking no one in particular as a new mom.
From one feeding to the next, you have about two hours at first. That’s from the start of one to the start of another. Each feeding takes some time, and then there’s a diaper change and perhaps a rocking to sleep if the baby is a few months old.
Then, once you’ve got the kid sleeping on her own in a crib, you feel that you dare not wake her up or let her sleep too often in the stroller or car seat, lest you undo the hard work of sleep training that you’ve already undergone.
Even if you feel you might have half an hour or so, that time can quickly vanish in trying to throw some clean clothes on, pack the diaper bag, and change the baby’s clothes and diaper – again – before you make it out that door.
It’s hard! But it gets easier.
5 Just Surviving The Day
Motherhood is sometimes much busier and much harder than a new mom ever could have expected. Okay, honestly, this is actually pretty common.
Whether or not you see confessions to this effect on your Facebook feed or it comes up in polite conversation, it’s true.
Moms may struggle to even take a shower some days. They may not remember the last time they brushed their hair.
Without a good amount of help, some practice, and some planning, the newborn times can be straight-up crazy. Especially if it’s your first baby and you’re still figuring out how to feed, do the diaper thing, and understand a tiny person’s sleep schedule, it can be overwhelming to the extreme.
But yes, there are calm, easy times, and know that it really does often get easier as you go.
4 Lovely Leakage Down There
It’s not uncommon for women to experience urinary incontinence following the birth of a baby.
Apparently, it can be quite extreme, while for some, on the other hand, there may be a slight trickle when they cough or sneeze.
Exercises known as Kegels can help to prevent this condition and also control it. In strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor, the uterus, bladder, and more are better supported.
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does happen to some. It’s common enough that many a mother actually wouldn’t blink an eye if you shared having this problem with her.
One time I went to the movies with some other new moms, and afterward we were about to leave when I thought the girl next to me said someone in our group further down the row was leaking breastmilk and needed a minute to take care of it, so I sat back down. Turns out the other women thought we had said someone on our end was leaking pee and needed to sit back down!
3 The Deed Is Not Quite Right
Some women find postpartum intimacy (after cleared by their doctor to resume normal activity, often at a 6-week postpartum checkup) is just fine, thanks. Some say it’s better than ever!
Some find that, at least at first and sometimes into the future, it just doesn’t feel the same.
Things can be stretched out and things can shift. A baby has just passed through the birth canal, after all.
Partners may feel… different in size. Lubrication may be… lacking (which may be related to the hormones circulating in the body during lactation).
The point is intercourse may just not be exactly the same, and it may not always be for the better.
With some time, some communication, some pelvic floor exercises, and maybe even some lube, a more satisfactory (and even satisfying) result may be achieved.
2 Forgot To Find Friends
Are you feeling down on yourself, or even just a bit lonely, because you don’t have a group of mommy friends at the time that you become a mom?
It’s easy to assume – I know – that once you have a baby, it will be really easy to make friends who also have babies. But the thing is, so much time is spent alone at home when you’re a brand-new mom. Any socialization can tend to be largely of the Facebook variety, and that can feel less like actually connecting and more like watching the real world pass you by.
Know that it’s not just you, and that it can take some real and concentrated effort to find one or two good mommy friends. You might need to find a way to take a class or join a specific group for the purpose. And if you find it’s almost impossible to keep any plans you’ve actually been able to make between everyone’s various nap times, know that this is very common, too!
1 Will There Be Sleep Someday?
With a smile and knowing look, everyone you encounter may talk about how you must be “so tired” as a new parent.
But even seasoned parents (I know from very real experience after two pregnancies and two newborn stages) can completely fail to understand how real, how hard, how emotional, and how inescapable exhaustion can be, especially if it’s been a few years or more since they’ve parented a newborn themselves.
If you’re a new parent and you feel like you’ve been soooo tired for sooo long, and you find it completely overwhelming, you are SO not alone.
It doesn’t matter if it seemed like your sister-in-law was doing just fine and looking perfectly perky at 4 weeks postpartum. Don’t even think you have to pretend like everything’s easy and okay.
It isn’t. It’s hard. But also know that this won’t last, and sleep will come. And ask for any help that you need!
Sources: Babble.com, LLLI.org, MayoClinic.org