Between getting used to that mom-bod and fitting in a few minutes for a shower - confidence can sometimes take a toll on a new mama.
Many people don’t understand how someone who has always wanted to begin a family may end up experiencing lower self-esteem. Since a lifelong dream is becoming a reality, others may not fully comprehend how personal emotions can truly take a hit on someone who has always wanted to be a mom.
The thoughts or opinions of others may overwhelm an already overwhelmed mama: Why would someone experience constant anxiety when they have a new little one by their side? How can someone who has always wanted a child to feel depressed during such a joyous time? It just can’t be possible for someone’s self-esteem to get in the way of that “motherhood glow?”
It comes down to one response that answers all those thoughts and questions: Moms are human.
Moms experience a rollercoaster of hormones and emotions during pregnancy that do not stop right when the baby (or babies) make their official entrance. Women also must transition into the new role of being “Mom” and though it may be something they’ve always wanted, it doesn’t mean it will be an easy transition. From the insane hormones and emotions to experiencing extra visitors and trying to recover from delivery, the transition can often take a toll.
This transition can take a toll not only physically on a woman, but mentally and emotionally as well – making confidence and self-esteem difficult to manage.
20 Change Can Be Challenging
Motherhood is a huge change. It physically changes a woman’s body and seeing new marks and scars all while dealing with the physical aspects of recovery can alter a mom’s outlook on, well, everything. The transition also impacts her overall thought process. When she may once have been a positive, go-getter who always stayed organized, she may now not be able to clearly remember how many ounces of formula go into a bottle (even when she prepared one an hour before).
A new mom who could once easily cope with quick changes may not have this flexibility right away (or for quite some time). Why? Because a mom’s primary focus is no longer on her own schedule, meals, hobbies, and social gatherings. She now must focus her energy on the daily needs of her little one. Though this is a beautiful experience that teaches a lot to a new mom (about herself and her little one), it can be tough facing such drastic change.
19 Prepare For Transition As Much As Possible
Even though books, classes, support groups, and personal self-preparation may not help with every aspect of the motherhood transition, a little preparation is better than nothing. Going into a big life change, such as motherhood, having some main platforms set can often better than
If you are better with hands-on, face-to-face experiences, classes and social meet-ups may help. These could provide a new mom with connections to people who could provide support mentally and emotionally. If you are someone who would prefer to prepare on your own, social media has many groups you can also join without having to leave home. Finding blogs, podcasts, and books that suit your specific parenting style can also help prepare you the change ahead.
18 Lack Of Intimacy Means Lack Of Attraction, Right?
It’s pretty common (and normal) once a baby comes into the picture, the relationship between Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mommy – however the family dynamic is) may alter slightly. Though the change should be approached in a positive light, it can sometimes be a tough approach to have at all times.
Adding a little one into the mix can often mean one thing: Not as much time for one another in an intimate sense.
Some new moms may expect the reason her significant other hasn’t shown as much affection towards her is because they lost that attraction. Since Mom has gone through so many physical (and emotional) changes, she may think those changes could be the main reason behind her significant other’s lack of interest intimacy.
17 Find Unique Ways To Connect With Your Partner
Time is a major factor when it comes to getting back into some sort of “familiar groove” with your partner post-baby. However, it’s also important to remember that the relationship you once had will not be the relationship you will have once there is a baby in the mix. Life changes when the family dynamic does – and that’s okay. A couple must adjust and do the very best they can to change along with it.
According to Psychology Today, some important ways to maintain a positive connection with your loved one can include prioritizing sleep, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, being appreciative, starting a new (not time-intensive) hobby together, and commiserate (or, in better words, vent) with each other. Know that your relationship will change, but it doesn’t mean you as a person need to change as well.
16 You May Not Have Enough Support
If you are a single mother, a mother who doesn’t live near family or you are a stay-at-home mama who doesn’t socialize often, you may feel completely alone. That lack of socialization and support can instantly pull at your confidence level and bring down your self-esteem.
Without support and some form of ongoing appreciation, Moms (and human beings in general) are bound to feel a blow to their self-esteem. Even the most positive people have moments of weakness. When a person faces the challenges of motherhood without even a small support system behind them, lack of confidence is more likely.
15 Find Local Support Groups (Even Through Social Media)
Just by asking your pediatrician, WIC counselor or lactation consultant that you need additional support will often lead you to local Parent Meetups or Breastfeeding Cafes. These groups are in almost every city and allow parents to discuss important topics and share personal stories.
If you have a Facebook or Instagram (or even Snapchat and Twitter), you can easily find local and strictly online parenting support groups. Between groups focused on pregnancy and moms-to-be to groups focused on moms-of-multiples and parents of children with disabilities – there are so many groups that welcome new members and do not allow negativity and bullying on their pages.
14 The Unexpected “Baby Blues” Hit
Mood swings often come with the hormonal changes going on in a woman’s body during pregnancy and after. Feeling the “baby blues” is a bit more than raging emotions and a little less than postpartum depression, but it’s still a very real emotional overload many mom’s face.
According to American Pregnancy, “the symptoms of ‘baby blues’ will hit forcefully within four-to-five days after the birth of baby, although depending on how the birth of the baby went, they may be noticeable earlier.” Some symptoms of “baby blues” include impatience, restlessness, fatigue, anxiety, weepiness, and irritability.
When any (or all) of those symptoms hit, it’s critical not to ignore them and to take appropriate action to maintain your own mental state.
13 Talk To People You Know Will Listen
“Talking about these emotions, changes, and challenges is one of the best ways to cope with the ‘baby blues’,” further explains American Pregnancy. Keeping your emotions bundled up only means they are bound to explode sooner or later.
And no one needs a new, overwhelmed mama having an emotionally charged meltdown in the middle of changing a dirty diaper or when the bottle unexpectedly overflows when pumping.
During that last trimester of pregnancy, find a support circle who will be available to you when you need them. This can be through texts, phone calls, weekly video calls or even social media posts in parenting groups. Having a solid line-up of people available for moments when you feel your confidence weakening can help rebuild that self-esteem you desperately need as a new parent.
12 Not Feeling Or Looking Like Your “Old Self”
It’s hard not to compare yourself to the person you were pre-pregnancy. When your body starts physically changing (in an obvious sense), you may feel your mental state changing as well. The growing belly, the weird breast pains, the skin changes – it’s a lot to handle during a hormonally charged time.
Pregnancy brings forward obvious physical changes, but so do the postpartum days. Moms leave the hospital with bigger bellies because of their swollen uterus and may be drained of color from pure exhaustion, hemorrhaging or other health issues. Whatever the physical changes may be that come after pregnancy, many women have difficulty fully embracing those changes and seeing them as positive.
11 Incorporate The “Old You” With The “New You”
Face it - you are now a strong mama with a new body and, therefore, should work on having a new, positive mindset. You don’t want to fully forget the parts of you that you liked a little better before having babies because loving your body means loving the old and new you. You can use those physical aspects to charge your mindset forward into a positive place where you think, “Hey, my boobs may be a tad droopier now, but they will look great in this bra!”
Positive self-talk leads to positive self-worth (even if it is related to the lovely postpartum sags).
Even when it isn’t a physical issue, remembering your hobbies and passions as you move into motherhood is important. You don’t want to lose who you always have been during the transition into this newer version of yourself. Motherhood doesn’t mean losing the “old you” – it means getting the chance to add more unique qualities to it.
10 The Initial Connection With Baby Wasn’t There
Parents expect there to be this huge irruption of emotions and overwhelming attachment the very second that newborn is set in their arms. They expect to immediately understand their little one’s needs just by holding them close their chest or by simply looking into their eyes.
This may happen to a rare few new parents, but definitely not for all.
This lack of immediate connection can be a huge confidence drop for new moms. They may feel a connection, but they may not feel like they truly know their little one in the sense they had hoped to. Especially if a mother chooses not to breastfeed, or is unable to, they may get a whirlwind of comments about how “if baby isn’t breastfed, there isn’t a real bond.” Those comments can instantly rip apart a mom’s self-esteem without the person making the comment knowing.
9 Bonding May Happen Over Time And In Many Ways
Many people say skin-to-skin contact is a great way to feel that initial bond with your newborn. Of course, breastfeeding being the go-to statement many moms hear when it comes to that kind of initial bonding practice. Even though that may be true for some, there are many other ways to bond with your little one. It’s important to know that bonding truly happens over time and isn’t immediate for everyone.
Bonding may also be seen as nurturing and many new mothers nurture their little ones nonstop by spending personal time with them. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “the evidence on the powerful role of loving nurture in the emotional, social, and cognitive development of children is powerful.”
However you decide to bond or nurture your child is your own choice, but always remember that it isn’t an immediate connection for everyone – and that’s absolutely okay.
8 Exhaustion May Lead To An Emotional Overload
Late nights and long days. This describes the lifestyle of a new parent perfectly.
Most moms experience an ongoing feeling of complete exhaustion during those initial weeks home with baby. Not only is baby adjusting to this brand-new life, Mom is adjusting her entire schedule to maintain the baby’s daily functions and needs. The adjustment may not only bring on heavy lids and dark circles, it also can bring on low self-esteem due to feeling emotionally overloaded.
This may come from the hormones still active in a woman’s body, but exhaustion can also play a huge role. When a person is overtired, their entire being is impacted – and that impacts the baby in the long run.
7 Nap When Baby Naps (If It Will Provide Sanity – Do It)
People have mixed feelings when it comes to the saying “nap when Baby naps.” Some people would rather get work done while others would rather take time for themselves during that "free time."
The answer is often this: If your exhaustion strains your health and well-being, nap when baby naps (and don’t you dare regret it).
Enjoy every second if you choose to rest when Baby does. It can give you the reboot you may have desperately needed when your eyes were shutting during an important bonding moment with your baby. Napping when your little one does will not make you lazy or put you in some kind of “Bad Mom” category. It gives you the chance to rejuvenate and recharge before jumping back into motherhood.
6 Too Many Comparisons To The Rich And Famous
With social media and smartphone apps taking over the world these days, it is no wonder so many young women compare themselves to public figures. Celebrities dominate the social media realm and if there is a pregnant celebrity or new mom posting pictures constantly (as many do), your timeline may fill up with more pictures of that than pictures of family or friends.
Even posts about friend’s pets could provide more positivity than the posts showing off unrealistic celebrity mom-bods.
Even if someone knows they shouldn’t compare or shouldn’t follow a public figure simply because of this, the interest in their situation is what keeps that person from blocking or deleting them. In a way, we may want to complain about how “perfect” their postpartum body looks (even if it’s photoshopped). We may want to vent about how the extents some celebrities go to during labor.
However, this complaining does not increase someone’s postpartum confidence.
5 Find Some Realistic, Relatable Mom Blogs
Finding blogs, podcasts, websites, and social media accounts that provide realistic, supportive moms and pregnancies can be a positive replacement for the more unrealistic ones. Even if you don’t “replace” the other accounts (if you truly are someone who is hooked on entertainment and celebrities), just adding some accounts that share more positive, role-model behavior can support self-esteem for a new mama.
There are many mom blogs and pregnancy-focused social media accounts out there. Even just by searching the hashtag “motherhood” or “momlife” on Instagram or Twitter, you will find so many great outlets that can provide women with confident, realistic role models.
4 Feeling Financially Unstable
When someone doesn’t have the finances they’ve always wanted, or aren’t able to make due to their specific family situation, confidence definitely takes a toll. When you’re not financially stable, your overall being may not feel stable either. For a new parent, this instability is not healthy – especially if Mom is beating herself up because of it.
It can be hard to make a long-term financial decision when pregnant or with a newborn. Between deciding if you should stay-at-home, work full-time or part-time, work from home or look into daycare options, no choice is ever really an easy one if your finances have always been a bit of a worry. Feeling as if you can’t bring home a paycheck on a regular basis can make a person feel as if they are not contributing appropriately. That thought in itself is a huge hit to someone’s self-esteem.
3 Your Contributing By Supporting Your Little One
The truth is that no matter what, if you are caring for your little one and keeping them safe, healthy, and happy – you are contributing more than you could possibly imagine. Looking at your situation as a major contribution is not always easy when your self-esteem and confidence is lacking, but it’s so important you do.
If you are home full-time or even part-time, you are able to create a very special bond with your little one. On top of that, you are able to financially save money for the family when it comes to daycare costs. That in itself is helping the family improve financial stability by not having to spend hundreds of dollars a week on daycare.
2 Feeling Flabby Isn’t Always Fun
After a new mama meets her little one for the first time, the next emotional overload can make the situation an even more, well, emotional one. This may be because she is noticing her body has continued to transform and change. Even if she knew these drastic changes would occur after pregnancy, it’s sometimes hard for someone to wrap their head around the postpartum transition until it is happening.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, “mothers body dissatisfaction increased significantly from 0-1 to 9 months postpartum.” This is often because the initial “Holy Moly I Have A Baby” phase has slowly dissipated and now Mom is seeing herself a little more clearly. Instead of seeing her body as one that just did miraculous things for a wonderful reason, she may see the droopy belly skin or stretch marks instead.
1 Learn To Embrace The Changes
You made a human. Your body did an amazing thing. YOU did an amazing thing.
The statements are often used way too much, but they couldn’t be truer. You can choose to see your stretch marks, scars, oddly shaped boobs (it happens), undereye bags, and baby-belly pudge as “unattractive,” but that won’t help your confidence.
These new physical traits are memories that may sooner or later fade. Even though many hope for them to go away sooner than later, to maintain any sanity – you need to embrace them. Look at those stretch marks as “Tiger Stripes” and see the baby-belly pudge as components of the beautiful vessel your body was. The crow’s feet are probably from the smiling you can’t help but do because of how amazing your little one makes you feel.
Take these changes, sculpt them into beautiful memories and realize that, like all memories, they may not last forever. And if they do – you are lucky. Your little one won’t be little forever.
References: Psychology Today, American Pregnancy, US National Library of Medicine
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