Pregnancy and Postpartum
There is no one right way to experience new motherhood. It can be a beautiful and tender experience while also being a distressing and worry-filled experience. Our culture celebrates pregnancy and babies yet doesn't prepare women for this profound life change. Many new moms experience challenges, doubt and emotional highs and lows during this transition.
Why can't I relax and enjoy my new baby? Why am I having such a hard time? Motherhood is not what I imagined. I’m not cut out for being a mom. I used to be so confident. When will I feel like myself again?
It is essential to feel supported during this time and focus on postpartum wellness. As a mom of a young child myself, I get it. I am here to help - nurturing new moms and moms-to-be is the heart of my psychotherapy practice.
Mothering a newborn is not always easy or what we expected; there are many unanticipated changes that occur. The first few months can be filled with complex, changing feelings (joy, confusion, hope, sadness, delight, worry, frustration, connection, guilt, disappointment, loneliness and ambivalence), all while sleep deprived and learning the overwhelming realities of newborn care and schedules. Perfectionistic tendencies, lack of support, unrealistic expectations and partner relationship shifts can heighten intense emotions. The myth of this being a time filled with happiness, natural bonding and innate maternal instinct may increase postpartum anxiety and depression.
It is also helpful to focus on the process of becoming a mother. Women may experience identity shifts, attachment concerns, loss of independence, relationship adjustments, isolation, confusion regarding the return to work, and grief for the loss of the previous life mixed with hope for what's to come. While navigating this profound life transition, there is a need to feel safe and not judged as a new mom. It is also essential to take care of yourself.
If you are having difficulty adjusting to pregnancy or new motherhood, or you have not been feeling like yourself, please talk about it. Take time during pregnancy to understand postpartum adjustment risk factors: prior history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder; birth trauma / NICU stays; cumulative sleep deprivation; breastfeeding difficulties; lack of support; relationship challenges and other life stressors. Be open to sharing with others how you feel after birth and during the first year postpartum. Make self-care a priority. Learn about the various postpartum concerns and get support.
Click here to learn more about Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety and other Maternal Mental Health Challenges that may surface at any time - from pregnancy through the first few years after birth.
Know that what you are feeling is very common for expectant or new moms.
Talk to your partner, friends or family about what you are going through.
Utilize support systems for emotional support or help with infant care.
Be kind to yourself. Caregiving is hard work. You will start to feel more confident.
Expect complex feelings around this life change. It may take some time to feel like yourself again.
Make sure that you have some periods of downtime for yourself.
Challenge negative/critical or unsupportive thoughts.
Make sleep a priority. Get help for night shifts and discuss sleep concerns with your doctor.
Get outside. Take a daily walk in nature during pregnancy and later with your baby.
Join a support group to normalize feelings and connect with other expectant or new moms.