Pregnancy is an experience that sees mom's emotions all over the place. She also goes through physical changes that make her tired and leave her struggling with nausea. Just about the time she learns to handle all of this, the baby arrives and she has a new set of issues to deal with.
It's normal to feel uncomfortable after the baby is born. Mom is healing and her hormones are all over the place. No woman goes from being pregnant to having a baby without feeling somewhat out of sorts. This transition is major, and it's okay for mom to take time to get her bearings.
Most of the discomfort mom feels will pass with time. It won't be particularly alarming, even if it is very uncomfortable. However, there are times when mom's discomfort crosses a line and she needs to seek out help.
Being able to tell the difference is important, and it's always better to reach out for help if there is any doubt. While most of what mom goes through will pass, there are women who struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. Seeking help in these situations is essential. Fortunately, most of the discomfort new moms feel will pass with time.
There is no exhaustion like the kind that comes with having a newborn. While babies actually sleep a lot, they don't sleep for long periods of time. They also aren't fans of sleeping through the night. This means mom is on call to soothe an upset child 24/7, completing disrupting her own sleep cycle.
It's normal to be exhausted, and it's important to grab rest whenever it is possible. Asking for help and napping when the baby naps are good ideas. Sleep deprivation leaves mom feeling emotional and like she is experiencing constant brain fog, both of which are very annoying for her.
24 Feeling Unprepared
No matter how many parenting books mom has read or how often she babysat for the neighbors when she was young, she will not feel completely prepared for motherhood. There is no way to know everything, and the vulnerability mom experiences when she realizes she is responsible for this tiny little person is extreme. It's also totally normal and no reason to panic.
Whether she knows it or not, mom has instincts that will help her stay in tune with her baby's needs. She will learn her child's preferences as time passes, and she'll relax into the role more each day.
23 Mention to the Doctor: Rage
Postpartum rage can be a sign of postpartum depression, but most people don't recognize it as such. Overpowering feelings of anger that seem to radiate through mom's body are scary and leave her wondering what is happening. Instead of dealing with this in silence, mom needs to tell a doctor to get to the bottom of what is going on.
There is no shame in reporting feelings of rage. It doesn't make mom a bad person at all. Hormone surges after birth can cause a variety of emotions and behaviors, and rage is one that mom does not need to try to deal with on her own.
22 Separation Anxiety
Babies are demanding and mom will desire breaks to gather her thoughts and have some quiet. However, she will probably also find that no matter how much she wants a break, she will feel nervous and sad about being away from her child. Separation anxiety isn't just something babies go through. Mom will likely have a hard time leaving her baby out of her sight in those early days.
Women who go back to work often experience this separation anxiety, even if they love their jobs. It takes time to get used to not having our children with us all the time, especially since we carried them in utero for nine months.
21 Mention to the Doctor: Tricky Thoughts
Tricky thoughts are, well, tricky. Mom may have racing thoughts she can't control about things happening to her baby, things she would never want to happen. However, the thoughts just won't stop, and the idea of telling anyone she is having them is horrifying. Mom needs to overcome this feeling of horror and talk to her doctor because tricky thoughts are often a sign of postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety is just now coming into the spotlight in the way postpartum depression is, and that's a good thing. A doctor presented with a mom who is having tricky thoughts will likely be able to link this to postpartum anxiety and help mom work her way through it to get some relief.
20 Tired Of Being Touched
Physically, mom will likely experience a point where she doesn't want anyone near her. Holding or feeding an infant pretty much all the time is physically exhausting, no matter how much mom loves her child and tries to cherish the moments. She may find herself touched out, ready to hand the baby to dad and hole up in another room where no one can put their hands on her.
This is normal. It's sometimes hard to be physical with a partner after a day of non-stop touch as a mom, and that's okay. This phase will pass as the child ages.
Kids really are grateful for all that mom does, but they aren't always great at showing it. They cry a lot, and they sometimes make it impossible to figure out what they actually want or need. This leaves many new moms feeling unappreciated at the end of the day.
Parenting is the kind of job that no one pays mom for, and it may feel like those around don't even notice all that she does. This is a defeating feeling that brings some women to tears. Share how it feels with friends or family when these feelings strike and release the stress that comes with feeling unappreciated.
18 Body Concerns
Unrealistic expectations exist that say mom should be back in her pre-pregnancy clothes in no time. There's so much pressure to lose the baby weight and firm up quickly that women forget it took them nine months to gain the weight. Also, moms grow people. Moms should be proud of their bodies, but many find they are uncomfortable in their own skin in those early days.
It's normal to feel strange about the changes that have taken place, but mom does not need to go to drastic measures to change her appearance. Let the weight come off when it's time, let the stretch marks exist, and accept what is.
It is possible to be lonely without ever truly being alone. Many new moms experience this. Mom will spend all day with her baby but feel a gut-dropping loneliness because she is the caretaker and the interactions she has with an infant are not the same as the ones she would have with an adult.
Motherhood can feel isolating, especially in those early days when mom is recovering and it's hard to get out of the house with the baby. This gets easier with time, but calling friends to keep mom company is a good idea to help with this problem.
16 Mention to the Doctor: Depressed
Postpartum depression often hits moms out of nowhere and robs the postpartum experience of joy. Mom may feel anger, sadness, or like she can't imagine her own future. There's generally a feeling that mom's mind is not her own, and this is scary and defeating. Seeking help for postpartum depression as soon as the symptoms start is important.
Waiting for PPD to pass is not a good idea because for some women it gets much worse before it gets better. Having a doctor help mom through it makes it safer for everyone involved, and mom will hopefully start feeling better sooner if she has help.
15 Physical Pain from Birth Recovery
Physical pain and emotional changes coexist when mom is recovering from birth. Bleeding, cramping, and sore breasts haunt mom for weeks after the baby is born, and this is piled on top of trying to take care of a newborn. If mom has a C-section, she will have to deal with a healing incision and restrictions on her activities for weeks.
It's normal to experience physical pain that can lead mom to feel emotionally drained. Asking for help and taking medication doctors prescribe for pain is a good idea until mom feels she is better. Pain that persists for too long or that intensifies warrants a call to the doctor.
14 Worry About the Baby
Babies seem helpless when they come into the world, and that's because they kind of are. They need moms to make sure they are fed, changed, and kept safe in a world that suddenly seems full of danger. This can lead mom to worry about things she never has before.
Worrying about a baby is normal, especially in those early days when mom feels so vulnerable. Mom will never truly stop worrying about her child, even as the child ages, but the intensity of the worry and the constant presence it offers in those early days will subside. Hormone levels will also start to calm down at some point, and that will help mom put her worries in perspective.
13 Reluctance To Ask for Help
When mom needs help the most, she may be reluctant to ask for it. It's hard to even figure out how or what to ask for in those early days, and when mom finally does, she may not feel rights seeking assistance with her own child. This is a mistake.
It's wise to ask for help in those early days, but many moms feel they have to do it all to be seen as worthy. This isn't true. Having help is important when healing is taking place and mom is sleep deprived. It can be the difference in her having good memories of her postpartum experience or having flashbacks of feeling alone and stressed.
Fear is a normal part of the human experience and everyone deals with it. What most women don't expect is an increase in the fear they are capable of feeling after they have a child. There is nothing like it and no way to prepare for it.
Just like the indescribable love mom feels, the worry of something happening to the baby is hard to explain. Suddenly, everything in the world appears differently and mom can't imagine a life where she is not afraid for her child's safety. This is normal up to a point and will ease up over time. It only needs to be addressed by a doctor if it alters mom's ability to function or she becomes concerned.
Regret is not a sign that mom doesn't love her baby. It's a normal feeling that strikes, sometimes when parenting gets really hard and sometimes simply when mom considers the paths she didn't take because she chose motherhood.
Mom may regret not being able to finish a book without a child crying or having emotions that make her feel not like herself. These regrets pass and mom focuses her energy on the love she has for her child. Still, it's normal to wish opportunities that now seem far away had been taken before the baby was born. This doesn't make mom a bad person.
Mom guilt is real and it is vicious. As unproductive as it is, mom will likely feel guilt over even the smallest things and the things that are out of her control. She may feel guilty because her birthing experience wasn't what she hoped for. She may have guilt because breastfeeding didn't work out for her. She may have guilt because she doesn't enjoy every single second of taking care of an infant.
Mom guilt is something most women struggle with throughout the parenting journey. However, it's worth it to learn self-compassion techniques so mom can free herself from this unnecessary strain.
9 Feeling Unattached
Becoming a mother is often advertised as the most amazing attachment experience on the planet. The person who grew in mom's body is supposed to evoke feelings of complete attachment from day one, and there isn't always a lot of room to talk about what happens if this isn't a woman's experience. What mom needs to know is she may feel a bit unattached in those early days, and this doesn't make her a bad mom.
The changes taking place in mom's body, mind, and relationships are enough to leave her disoriented. This may mean she still feels a bit adrift those first days. The attachment will come, but mom can still take care of her child and be a good mom, even if it takes awhile.
Social media has its positives and negatives. One major negative is it can make moms more competitive than they were in the past because of access to everyone's curated feeds. Mom will see a picture of her friend feeding her child homemade baby food and feel the need to one up her. She may see a woman who lost the pregnancy lbs. in the first month and decide it is time to take drastic measures to change herself.
Everyone's journey is unique. While it's normal to feel competitive, motherhood is actually not one big competition. Keeping the competitive feelings in check is essential so mom can focus on her own life instead of trying to outdo everyone else's.
Doesn't it always look so much easier when someone else is doing the parenting? Mom may find that envy makes frequent appearances if she sees other moms having an easier time when she is struggling. Envy doesn't have to mean mom isn't happy for other moms or that she wishes them ill. It's usually just a feeling that pops up when something in her own life needs to be rearranged.
Envy can be a clue that mom has a desire that isn't being met. She can either find a way to meet that desire or come to terms with accepting where she is on the journey. Mom shouldn't beat herself for being envious, but she also shouldn't waste time wishing for someone else's journey.
6 Mention to the Doctor: A Desire to Disappear
It's true that some women feel they have lost themselves after they have children. It's not that they don't want to be mothers. It's just that the enormous shift that occurs when one becomes a parent is not something anyone can warn mom about beforehand in a way she will fully understand. Mom may feel like she has disappeared, and she may wish that she actually could disappear.
This is a sign that the doctor needs to be contacted. While feeling unsteady about identity after becoming a mom is normal, if it leads to mom wishing she didn't exist, it's a problem. She needs to reach out for help.
Spoiler alert: mom is not going to do everything perfectly. It's hard to accept this truth when looking at her precious newborn's face, but it's true. That's why the mothering journey can be full of so much self-doubt and self-blame.
When mom makes a mistake or isn't sure how to approach a parenting issue, she may feel shame. When she loses her patience or wants to take a break, she will probably feel shame. When her body is still carrying pregnancy lbs. long after the pregnancy has ended, she will feel less than great. All of this guilt is unnecessary, and mom needs to learn how to manage it, but it's also completely normal.
Becoming a mother is a wonderful experience, but it also comes with a lot of expectations that can start to feel like unwanted baggage. A woman who finds the mothering experience harder than she expected or feels she wasn't prepared can experience disappointment. She may have expected motherhood to look one way, so when it doesn't fit into that vision, disappointment can appear.
Mom can love being a parent and still feel disappointed. There are plenty of things to be disappointed about, like the lack of support mothers get from society in certain areas and the unreal expectations placed on us to love every minute of sleep deprivation. Mom is simply adjusting to the reality as opposed to the ideal, and that's okay.
Mom can love her supportive partner and still feel resentment build inside of her as the early days of parenting see her doing the majority of the work. Babies want their moms, and nursing mothers are tethered to their children in a way that makes them feel on call around the clock. Watching a partner read a book, go out with friends, or sleep peacefully can bring resentment to the surface.
This is a normal feeling, especially in those early days. Talking it through with a partner is better than lashing out, so that's the approach to take if possible.
2 Mention to the Doctor: If Mom Feels Not Needed
If mom is having visions of her child growing up without her, this is a problem. Mom is needed and wanted by those around her, and if her mind starts lying to her and saying she is not needed, she needs to seek help. Postpartum depression lies, just like all depression, and mom does not need to buy into the falsehoods it tries to spread.
Just because a baby keeps crying even when mom is trying to console him doesn't mean he doesn't need her. It just means he's a baby. Even when mom feels she has nothing to offer, her child sees her as the most essential person on the planet. Mom needs to talk to a doctor if she ever starts to doubt this.
Mom may have always seen herself as a calm person. However, many women find themselves dealing with anger after having children, and it can come as a total surprise. This anger is not to the point of rage, which mom should see a doctor about, but it can feel strange to have this emotion pop up so often.
Being exhausted and dealing with hormonal shifts can affect mom's moods. It's also easy to get angry when feeling unappreciated. The early months of a child's life are demanding on mom, and this may lead to stress that pools into anger.
Sources: Parent.com, Todaysparent.com, Kidshealth.org