Many people think about new moms and think about how strong they must be, how in love they must be, and how infatuated they must be. They may see photographs and statuses on social media that focus on smiling newborns or those cute baby giggles people can’t get enough of. Outsiders see newborn photos being taken in sunflower fields or perfectly woven baskets and can’t imagine the family feeling anything other than complete and utter happiness.
Well, if the parents are human, they may not feel joy and happiness every second of every day – believe it or not.
Moms are not robots and they feel emotions – strongly, in fact. Since a new mom’s hormones are still raging throughout her body after delivery, she may become more emotional than usual. Those hormones don’t just disappear once the baby makes that grand entrance. A woman’s body continues to change after delivery which means those hormones continue to change with it. Therefore, emotions can take over more than usual and sometimes with heavy emotions come heavy thoughts.
It is natural for new moms to question themselves when they enter the wild world of motherhood. She may not always believe in herself or believe she can be the best she always thought she could be. Everyone has low moments when they think negatively about their abilities and beliefs, but some people have stronger coping skills than others. It’s important to recognize the normalcy of toxic or discouraging thoughts, but also realize there is always a positive thought to balance those negative ones out.
20 “I Don’t Think I Can Do This.”
When times are tough, you may think you just can’t do it. You physically can’t push any harder (during delivery). You can’t rock your crying baby any longer. You can’t painfully pump anymore. You can’t move any faster to meet your baby’s needs.
Sometimes, you may simply feel defeated in absolutely every way. Motherhood is not easy and it can be tough seeing that until you’ve officially entered it. When social media and friends make it look like their lives are filled with smiling babies and impossible mom-bodies, behind those perfect camera angles are human beings who also feel defeated once and a while.
19 “You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To.”
When you put all your focus and energy towards something, anything is possible. If you had a difficult time conceiving but did everything in your power to make it happen (and then it did), you are proof. If you didn’t have any milk coming in but continued to pump every single day because you were determined to make it happen – you are proof. If you had the most painful pregnancy and an even more painful delivery, but now are looking down at a beautiful, little baby – you are proof.
You are proof that your mind and your heart can do powerful things if they work as a team. There will be moments along the way that will be tough and tricky and feel pretty darn impossible. By remembering the tough moments you’ve conquered before, you can reassure yourself that what you’re facing is only another small hurdle to overcome.
18 “This Baby Will Probably Never Sleep.”
When a newborn, infant, or toddler decides not to sleep during normal hours or not nap when Mama wants them to, Mom may become slightly irritated. Actually, using the word ‘slightly’ may be putting the frustration nicely. Words such as livid, irate, and straight pissed off may be more realistic descriptors when a baby won’t fall asleep.
Thinking negatively about your little one’s sleep patterns can happen automatically when such intense frustration occurs. A new mama may be so overtired and overworked that she gives up and gives in, pushing aside her beliefs and parenting style. When a new mom is completely drained, her patience to follow through with anything sleep-training related may go out the window.
17 “Stay Patient - It Will All Work Out.”
All babies cry, that truth is inevitable. However, it’s also inevitable that new parents can get frustrated when those tears seem to never end and everything they’re trying just isn’t working. It’s okay to get irritated, but it’s important to try and remain patient so you can clearly figure out something that will work.
Like motherhood, it isn’t easy – but it is possible.
“People have a genetic timing mechanism in their brain that controls sleep, and it takes time for that mechanism to develop,” Marc Weissbluth, MD, tells Parents Magazine. It takes time before a baby develops an understanding of sleep and becoming irritated with this process is normal. However, understanding it will take time and it's a positive step forward. Sooner or later, your baby will have to fall asleep.
16 “Other Moms Will Judge Me.”
Mom-shaming is an unfortunate reality. Between the powerhouse social media has become and friends and family members with little ones, the opinions of others will become known. Sometimes these thoughts and opinions can be hurtful without even realizing it, but hurtful just the same.
Feeling judged by others for how you go about your personal parenting style is a very real fear. You may feel as if every move you make is being picked apart and, unfortunately, some people take the time and energy to do just that. Whether or not others truly are being hurtful, the fear remains and the pain doesn’t just disappear.
15 “You’re Stronger Than Any Petty Comment.”
A poll conducted by the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital told Psychology Today, “Sixty-one percent [of moms] responded that they have been criticized for their child-rearing decisions. The most common topic of criticism: Discipline. The second-most-cited denunciation concerned diet and nutrition; the third, sleep; the fourth, breast versus bottle-feeding, fifth, child safety, and sixth, childcare decisions.”
This information is proof that many mothers feel criticized simply for doing the best they can. Any petty comment or judgment is usually rooted from a negative, insecure place and it’s sad to think that moms must put others down to pull themselves up. Telling yourself every single day how strong you are for making it through any negative communication is important. Why? Because it’s the truth. Moms are strong human beings and pushing through criticism puts you ahead of those criticizers.
14 “I Probably Won’t Be Able To Breastfeed.”
Deciding on the feeding method for your baby can be difficult. It can be tough because of all the different options out there, but particularly because breastfeeding is often “pushed” on new moms. Breastfeeding does have many health benefits for both Mom and her baby, but it isn’t as easy as many make it out to be. It can take days before milk is produced and it can be painful in some cases. Sometimes babies won’t latch or the baby may have an allergy to the milk itself.
For the moms who truly want to breastfeed, facing these factors can bring on many toxic thoughts. Having difficulty with breastfeeding can be emotional and the negativity may bring a new mom’s confidence level down. She may start doubting herself out of fear of letting herself and her baby down.
13 “If You Don’t Try, You Don't Know.”
If you are determined to breastfeed, do it. Try with every part of your being to make it work. Patiently pump until milk is produced. Continuously bring your little one to your chest. Eat lactation cookies and granola bars and see if they help. If you still have difficulty after trying absolutely every option out there, you at least can tell yourself you tried your hardest.
Women’s Health lists many challenges Moms face when breastfeeding: sore nipples, low milk supply, latching issues, let-down reflex, engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. The struggles are out there and recognizing those struggles as normal may push away negative thoughts. It’s also important to know that supplementing with formula is a completely healthy and safe route to take.
12 “I’ll Never Have Time For Myself Again.”
Once the chaos of motherhood begins, a new mom may feel as if their life has flipped upside down. Even if they feel prepared for motherhood, the moment that baby is officially handed over, life changes. Your life now revolves around your baby’s needs. If your baby is awake, you’re awake. If your baby is hungry, you must feed them. If your baby is uncomfortable, you must soothe them.
When a new mom is worried about these changes, she may feel as if the baby is sucking every ounce of her personal time. Even though most new moms understand this will be the case, when the old routine starts changing, a mom may feel as if she lost part of herself. She may love her baby and love being a mom, but if you feel as if you’ve lost part of who you were before – self-esteem can drop.
11 “Stay Organized – Mom Time Will Happen.”
Motherhood doesn’t mean dropping who you were before. You want to stay true to yourself to be the positive role model your child will need. By organizing your day, trying to follow a routine, and keeping a positive outlook, you will find time for yourself. It isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen every day or every week. However, organization is a critical part of making sure “Mom Time” happens.
Psych Central discusses Jessica N. Turner’s book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, and focuses on how tracking time and organization is important for new moms. Some questions the book asks Moms to ask themselves are: What time was wasted? Are you doing too many things? Could you ask for assistance? Did you take time out for yourself? How did you feel during the week overall? How did these emotions influence you and your activities? By asking these questions at the end of the week, or day, you can work on making more time for yourself possible.
10 “What If I Can’t Keep My Baby Healthy?”
A huge focus for many moms is on the health of her new baby. This makes sense because a newborn’s immune system is completely untouched which means a lot could happen. Since people have almost immediate access to everything, new moms may see posts on social media about sick and hurting babies and immediately fear for the worst.
Along with this fear comes the non-stop thoughts rolling through a new mama’s mind regarding the health of their little one. With those thoughts come the obsessive behaviors and worries regarding cleanliness and safety. Though these are important worries to have, continuously focusing on this negative point can take away from the positive memories a mama can make with her little one
9 “Remember, A Baby’s Immune System Is Tricky At First.”
Dr. Camille Sabella from the Children’s Cleveland Clinic states, “An infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until around 2 to 3 months. In those first few months, the immune system – especially cell-mediated immunity – becomes more developed. This is very important in helping a child fight off viruses.”
Recognizing that your little one’s immune system is not fully developed is important, but it’s also key to not let that thought take over. Being able to spend genuine time bonding with your baby is just as important as keeping them healthy and away from sickness. Watching how often you venture into the public and making sure people wash their hands during those first few months can help prevent sickness.
8 “If I Formula Feed, I Won’t Hear The End Of It.”
“Breast is best” is a phrase heard time-and-time again. Between nurses, lactation consultants, OBGYNs, friends, and social media outlets – new mom’s hear every opinion when it comes to breastfeeding. There are many positives linked to it, but along with those positives come the moms who simply do not want to breastfeed. This choice may be because they’re physically unable to, they’re having multiples and don’t want additional “stress,” or because they just find it uncomfortable.
If you’re one of those moms, you may feel as if your choice will immediately be judged. You may hear medical professionals and friends make comments aloud, or overhear others' opinions regarding your choice. It is unfortunate moms must face this negativity when the choice is hers and hers alone.
7 “There’s Nothing Wrong With Formula – Fed Is Best.”
“Fed is best” should be the phrase overtaking “Breast is best.” If a baby is fed, healthy, safe, and happy – that’s what matters in the end. Yes, there are many positives linked to breastfeeding. However, formula and choosing to exclusively pump are not “bad” choices and should not be frowned upon.
“It’s easy to let breast-or-bottle define what kind of mother you are. What makes you a good mom is the love, affection, and attention you show your child,” Today explains regarding the “Breast is Best” phenomenon. Feeding your child is important, however, it does not define motherhood. Your personal interactions matter just as much as what nutrients are going into your little one’s system.
6 “I Don’t Have the Patience.”
Patience is a tough trait. Even the most patient person will lose their cool every now and then. Human beings learn patience from witnessing others in action while carefully focusing on their own behaviors. It is not something easy to grasp and when you’re a parent, the trait becomes an even more difficult one to conquer.
From a newborn’s nonstop crying and to trying to please friends, family, and your significant other, being patient truly is a virtue. It’s not something easy to get a full grasp on and when you’re a new mom, keeping calm and collected at all times may not seem like a priority when there’s laundry, pumping, dishes, and dirty diapers to do.
5 “Your Patience Will Grow - You Have More Than You Know.”
Telling yourself you don’t have any patience is the worst thing you could do. When you put that negative thought in your head, your brain encompasses it and works off of it. That kind of toxic energy is not helpful when there’s a new baby in the picture.
That may sound a bit “hippie-esque” for your style, but it is true on many levels.
As you get to know your little one’s needs, your patience for meeting those needs will grow. You may not notice it, but over time it becomes more obvious. This doesn’t mean there won’t be moments when that patience breaks – that is absolutely normal. Your patience will grow alongside your little one and if you maintain a positive attitude, the growth will be colossal.
4 “I Can’t Do This On My Own.”
Motherhood can be tough when you’re a single mom, a co-parenting mom, or a mom who has a significant other overseas. Motherhood can be tough even when you have all the support in the world. However, when it’s just you and your baby (or babies), there is a lot more pressure put on your choices and actions than if someone was there to help you out.
Thinking you can’t do it all on your own is a thought that runs through the mind of an overtired mother often – especially if Mom is alone a good chunk of the time. Spending one-on-one time with your baby is a blessing, but it also can be incredibly stressful and intense.
3 “Alone, With A Partner, Or With Support - You Got This.”
Family dynamics have changed so much over the last decade. This change shows just how strong family is and how strong Moms are. Whether a family is one mom, two moms, two dads, co-parents, grandparents, or a mom and dad household – children are being brought up to become strong and independent little humans. As long as you move forward with a positive mindset, your little one can do the same. Yes, it may mean doing a lot of the work on your own if you are a single parent or someone who does most of the parenting. However, it is possible and it truly is the most important job out there. Remembering that and that you can always ask others for help, is critical.
2 “I’m A Horrible Mom.”
Moms will have moments when all they can think about is how horrible they are. These negative thoughts can completely take over a mama’s brain in absolutely every way. She may not hear her little one crying one night and wake up to a baby who is emotionally a mess. She may feel too tired to give her little one a bath on the designated “bath night.” She may forget the diaper bag at home and not go back to get it because they are already too far away to turn around. These moments can make new moms feel guilty, anxious, and straight-up horrible, impacting their mindset for the remainder of the day.
1 “You’re Doing The Best You Can.”
All moms have moments when they forget something, push something off, or react in a questionable way. These behaviors and actions happen because Moms are humans. Even though Moms have superhero moments, it doesn’t mean they have to be superheroes at all times.
Those capes aren’t superglued on every outfit a mama wears.
Motherhood is filled with struggles and triumphs. Recognizing you are living a life mixed with both of those aspects is a positive step forward. When you face a struggle, don’t let it define you as a parent. When there is a triumph, embrace it and learn from it. Not every day will be easy, but if you are doing the best you can – that is what matters.
References: Parents Magazine/Marc Weissbluth, MD, Psychology Today/University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Women’s Health/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Psych Central, Children’s Cleveland Clinic/Dr. Camille Sabella, Today