Maybe you've been trying for years to conceive, or maybe your positive test result is surprising news. No matter the circumstance, when you see those two lines pop up, you know that your life is about to change forever. You may feel a wide variety of emotions, ranging from disbelief to happiness, to panic. Everyone feels a mix of these thoughts when they receive this life-altering news but luckily you have nine months to get used to the idea that you are going to be someone’s mama!
Once the initial shock has worn off, you will most likely feel a sense of inner peace, and immediately start working on your baby to do list. There is a lot to get done to ensure that you are completely ready for the little nugget's arrival. In most cases, you put so much thought into nesting, planning, and delivery, that you rarely stop to think about how you will actually feel when your little one arrives.
The truth is, everyone reacts a little bit differently after their baby is born. Some women are able to bounce right back into their regular routine, but most women have a harder time adjusting and have feelings that are completely unexpected to them.
If your thoughts aren’t limited to “my baby is the most beautiful creature to ever grace this planet” don’t worry, this is completely normal. Here are the 15 feelings moms secretly have after giving birth.
15 Do You Even Know What You're Doing? – Doubt
Being a new mom is no easy feat. Most women expect to know what to do for their baby 100% of the time, and they expect this knowledge to be instinctual and instant. While you know that you need to feed your baby, doubts about what to feed them, how to feed them, and when to feed them creep into your brain and will literally drive you crazy.
Doubt is a tricky emotion that leads all new mothers down a slippery slope.
Maybe you find yourself second guessing every choice, or constantly reading mommy blogs and stalking every newborn message board, in the hopes that you will get assurance that you are on the right path.
You need to take comfort in the fact that no woman is born knowing how to change a diaper, soothe colic, or bring down a fever. This doesn’t mean that you lack a maternal instinct. It just represents that sharp learning curve that occurs when you become a mother. These skills take time, and your doubt will fade away as you grow with your baby and get to know them and their cues.
The best thing to do is to stay off of the message boards, and quit researching every little thing. It is important that you trust your gut. I promise, you will make the right choices, and if you don’t, it is a great learning experience.
14 Getting To Know Someone New – Worry
Bringing life into this world can make you feel worries that you never even knew existed. Of course your number one concern will be about their overall health and happiness, but you may also have concerns that you weren’t expecting. In fact, worrying about how bonded you are to your baby is actually more common than you would think.
In every movie and television show, new moms describe feeling a sense of love that they have never known before. They throw around words like “immediate” and “instinctual”. But don’t fret if you don’t share a similar experience. If you don’t feel this instant connection, or deep love, you may worry that you have postpartum depression, but that is rarely the case.
Dr. Edward Christopherson states that:
“There's so much discussion about bonding with a new baby that mothers worry if they don't feel some incredible attachment to their new baby immediately. But bonding is truly an individual experience, and it's just as reasonable to expect the bond to develop over a period of time as it is for it to develop instantaneously.”
Some moms are lucky and instantly fall in love, but it’s completely natural if this doesn’t occur right away, especially if you have had a traumatic labor. Your baby is a stranger to you, and its okay if it takes some time to become acquainted with one another.
Pretty soon these feelings will fade, and will be replaced by a deep, all consuming love, that will leave you questioning how you ever lived without them.
13 Wait, What Just Happened? – Scatterbrain
I would bet money that you are currently reading this while enjoying a nice cup of cold coffee…that you found in the microwave…from yesterday. Having a baby does a number on your body, and it can be extremely taxing to spend all day meeting their needs, the needs of your family, and your own personal needs. Trying to do it all will most definitely leave you feeling like a chicken with its head cut off.
Having a newborn will leave you feeling scattered and unproductive, and finishing a to-do list is a nearly impossible task.
Hormonal changes, stress, and sleep deprivation are responsible for your sudden inability to see a task to completion, or even remember what you are supposed to be doing!
This feeling should only last for a short time, but if you have some pressing tasks that need to get done, or another child to take care of, there are some steps you can take to regain full brain power.
To start you need to create a plan of attack. Each night before bed, write down goals for the next day, even something as simple as taking a shower. Just dump out all of your thoughts out on to a piece of paper, and then prioritize which tasks need to be done first. The next day, don’t get too hung up on creating a perfect plan, just “do”. Get moving and plow through your list. This is not the time to be a perfectionist! Once you complete a task, move right along to the next one.
Creating a schedule for yourself will organize the thoughts in your brain, and actually allow you to drink your warm cup of coffee for a change.
12 Baby Blues Are Very Real – Depression
Feeling the “baby blues” after you give birth is extremely normal, and it is important not to get this confused with postpartum depression which is a separate and serious issue. After you give birth, you may just feel a little off, and well, depressed. This is due to the rapid drop of hormones in your system, and is very common in new mothers.
About 70-80% of all new mothers experience negative feelings, mood swings, and sadness after giving birth. These feelings typically show up within four days of delivery. This type of depression isn’t all consuming and you may only feel it for a few minutes each day. The good news is that these feelings usually disappear by the time your baby is one month old.
If you are feeling this way, it is important to talk about it. Most women feel embarrassed and that something is “wrong” with them, but opening up and creating a support system can be very beneficial. Make sure that you are eating healthy, getting fresh air, and enjoying life with your little one! Also, don’t set too high of expectations for yourself. You are now living in uncharted territory and placing unrealistic expectations on yourself can further your depressive feelings. Go easy on yourself during this time, and savor the simple moments.
11 The Weight Of The World – Stress
Stress, we are all familiar with this emotion. Stress can disrupt your life and can cause physical side effects. If you have ever suffered from stress related migraines, stomachaches, and tooth grinding, you know what I am talking about. Everyday life events can cause you to feel stress, but a major life event such as having a child, can almost guarantee that your stress level will spike. This happens with most new moms, and is nothing to be ashamed of.
The reasons that having a baby is so stressful begins at delivery.
Delivering a child puts a tremendous amount of physical stress on your body, and this also affects your mental well-being.
Once you have delivered, you may feel that your life has taken a nosedive into chaos. Taking care of a newborn is extremely hard work, and you rarely get a moment of peace. Baby Centre says it best:
“You may have the scary realization that you're now responsible for the care, nourishment and protection of a tiny baby. And that's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, despite you having little or no previous experience. “
This, coupled with the fact that you and your partner are sleep deprived, will leave you feeling anxious, stressed, and on edge. But take solace in the fact that everyone goes through this, and it will pass. Think of it like starting a new job, albeit a 24 hour a day job, but a job. When you start at a new company, it takes time for you to learn the ropes and feel comfortable. This is exactly the same with a new baby. Once you form a routine, and get some sleep, your stress levels should subside.
10 What If They Know Better? – Low Confidence
You may be surprised that low confidence made it on to this list. When I refer to a lack of confidence, I am speaking to confidence in parenting capability, and not appearance. Having a lack of confidence in your own parenting is a very normal feeling, especially during the first few months, and, in reality, it will pop up time and time again, even as they grow older.
After you have your baby, you will have questions about everything. Luckily we have the ability to Google until our hearts' content. I mean, how did our parents even raise us! In any event, you may feel like you can't do anything right, or that other moms have it all figured out, but that is simply untrue.
One of the biggest causes of low confidence is due to the fact that everyone offers you unsolicited advice. When you are receiving advice from so many different people, you are likely to get conflicting opinions, and these opinions coupled with your own thoughts will turn your brain into mush.
The truth is, no one has all of the answers, and listening to everyone’s advice and not trusting your gut, may leave you feeling incapable of raising your child. There is no “right” way to parent, and “right” is a relative term. Everyone has their own way of weaning, potty training, and disciplining that works for them. And just because you see a mom out there killing it, doesn’t mean that she is free from failure. Also, what works for her most likely won't work for you and your child.
So, before you continue feeling this way, trust that you are making the best decisions for your child. Go with your gut, and know that even if you “mess” something up, your child won't be scarred for life. Once you can make peace with this fact, and start making choices independent of mom groups and Google, you will slowly gain the confidence you desire.
9 Please Go Away – Anti-Social
Do you find yourself silently screaming: “No. More. Visitors” each time your doorbell rings? If so, you’re not alone. Even though you love to show your new baby off to friends and family, the constant stream of visitors can really grate on your nerves.
While you appreciate their involvement, entertaining guests isn’t high on your list of priorities.
Even though they tell you that you don’t need to get up, or lift a finger, if you’re like most people, you will feel the pressure to be the “hostess with the mostest” and as a result spend your time making sure that they have a cool drink in their hand, or a snack. You would much rather be using this time to catch up on housework, sleep, or eat a hot meal!
You may think that you're being anti-social, or standoffish, but you're not. Your priorities have changed a bit, and your main focus is now the immediate needs of your child.
So to all of the friends out there, if your newest “mom friend” isn’t returning your call, or scheduling a time for you to come over, she isn’t being rude. This is completely normal, and she most likely doesn’t want to deal with hosting.
If you do stop by her house, and you want to actually help, please don’t just offer to hold the baby. That is most likely her favorite part of the day! Instead, offer to clean her house, make dinner, and encourage her to get some rest. She will come out of her shell in no time.
8 Why Isn't This Working? – Difficulty Breastfeeding
Breast-feeding is widely seen as the preferred choice when it comes to feeding your child. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and feels that it is the optimal way to nourish your infant. After six months, they can breastfed for up to two years and beyond, with the addition of complementary solid foods. In addition to this, breast milk contains all of the nutrients, vitamins, and antibodies that your baby needs to grow a healthy body and brain. Its called liquid gold for a reason!
Breast milk not only has amazing health benefits, but it also provides a great opportunity to bond. With all of these perks, most women assume that breastfeeding will come easily to them, and will go off without a hitch, but this is rarely the case.
Breastfeeding is really difficult for some women, and it is completely natural to hate it in the beginning. Even though it is “beautiful” and “natural” the CDC reports that half of American moms give up by the six-month mark. This is due to a variety of reasons. Babies can have a difficult time latching, your nipples will feel chapped, you may not produce enough, or you can be prone to mastitis which is an inflammation of your breast tissue, caused by clogged milk ducts.
If you have some or all of these issues, breastfeeding can feel like an uphill battle. Just remember, that it does get easier over time, and, if you continue to struggle, you can join a breastfeeding support group.
7 Desire For A Tribe – Mom Friends
I am sure that you all have had close friendships before getting pregnant and giving birth. If you’re lucky, your other friends will also have kids, but what happens if you are the first one to procreate? You might tell yourself that things will remain the same, but a lot actually changes. Your childless friends will go on living their carefree lives, and you just don’t fit into their spontaneous ways anymore, and they don’t fit into your new demanding schedule.
Reminiscing on the past can leave you feeling down, and you may feel guilty for wanting to make new friends, but this is a very natural instinct.
You suddenly have a new interest (your baby) and you want to meet people with common interests. Your desire to have a friend or two who really get what its like to be a new mom, to give you advice, or to commiserate with, is nothing to feel guilty about.
You can meet new friends at child-centered classes (think baby gymnastics, or baby music groups), MOPS(Mothers Of PreSchoolers) groups, or Mommy and Me Classes.
Even if you make new friends, you can still nurture your old friendships. You are in a season of change, and everyone should understand that.
6 One Cup Of Coffee Won't Fix This – Complete Exhaustion
Before having children, you may thought that you knew what being tired felt like, but in reality you had no idea. After having kids, you feel a deep, all consuming exhaustion that pales in comparison to the all nighters you used to pull in college.
There is nothing wrong with you, and your newfound tiredness is simply due to hormonal changes, stress, and –obviously– lack of sleep. Waking up multiple times during the night would make anyone feel like a member of the living dead. During these times, your spouse is most likely the only person that can fully understand how you are feeling. Your friends and family on the other hand, don’t really get the gravity of the situation. Lack of sleep can cause you to be irritable, depressed, forgetful, and anxious.
Also, forget about the whole “sleep when they sleep” thing that all moms tell you. How can you possibly nap when your baby is sleeping? When else would you do the dishes, take a shower, or catch up on a good book? In essence, you are also trading available sleeping opportunities to lead some semblance of a normal life.
This exhaustion can leave you feeling crazy and frazzled but your baby should be sleeping through the night in a few months, and will join the land of the living in no time!
5 Needing A Personal Bubble – Low Libido
Complaints of a low libido are very common when you bring a newborn home. This may be causing tension in your marriage, and it can leave you feeling guilty, and like something is wrong with you. In reality, you have no control over your lack of libido. It is due to the decrease of hormones after giving birth, lack of sleep, and from the general pressure of being responsible for a new life. According to Baby Centre:
“It's normal to have a decreased sex drive after giving birth. This feeling can last for months. In one study of postpartum women, 20 percent had little or no desire for sex three months after delivery, and another 21 percent had a complete loss of desire or aversion to sexual activity.”
Caring for an infant and breastfeeding is a round the clock job, and they are physically dependent on you.
This is physically and emotionally draining and sometimes when you finally have a moment to yourself, you just need a break from intense physical contact, making intimacy low on your list of priorities.
Even though this is frustrating in the short term, most women report that their decreased libido was temporary and only lasted for a few months. Over time, and with a great deal of patience, you and your partner will need to focus on rebuilding your intimate relationship.
4 Needing Adult Conversation – Loneliness
You may assume that you can only feel loneliness if you are in fact alone. In all actuality, you can feel alone when you are surrounded by loved ones, or in a group of people.
Loneliness is a challenge that few new mothers see coming. You might actually assume the opposite–that having a newborn attached to your hip 24/7 would leave you wanting to be alone.
Even though you may be extremely connected to your newborn, chances are that you are feeling extremely disconnected from people around you, even your spouse.
Psychology Today blogger, Alice Boyes states that:
“Having a child is often incredibly stressful on a couple's relationship, especially if you don't feel as supported by your partner as you'd like to be. In addition, there’s a tension between wanting to keep up friendships and other social relationships but feeling either too exhausted or too anxious about being away from your baby.”
This feeling of loneliness is also increased if you are a stay-at-home mom. The lack of adult contact, and social interaction can leave you feeling like an outsider to the world.
If you are feeling lonely, it is important to identify the feeling for what it is, and take proactive steps to reach out others. Schedule time with your friends, join a support group, and most importantly talk to your spouse. They are your teammate and can help you find solutions.
3 How Do They Do It? – Jealousy
Jealousy is a common emotion that new mothers feel for a variety of reasons. You might be jealous of other moms that look like they have life figured out so much better than you do. Or you could be jealous of your spouse for getting to go to work, or his ability to sleep through the night. Hello, sleep envy! It is a real thing.
If you find yourself green with envy over your mom friend that always has a clean kitchen, time to cook fabulous meals, and always looks put together, you're not alone. Who wouldn’t be envious of that? Even though it is not an uncommon emotion, it is certainly not productive. Chances are, she has the same struggles as you, and just deals in a different way. Or maybe she is even jealous of you!
Jealousy towards your husband is also completely expected, especially if he “gets” to go to work while you stay home.
You could feel like he gets the chance to be social and pursue his career goals, while you are at home with the baby.
It is important to take the time and identify the source of your envy, and to understand that jealously is a normal human emotion. But make sure that you focus on the positive aspects in your life, and take time to practice daily gratitude.
2 The Loss Of Yourself – Frumpiness
Feeling frumpy can naturally happen when you become a mom. If you don’t have time to partake in your normal beauty routine, or heck, even brush your hair; it can leave you feeling less than stellar. Even if you do manage to shower, get ready, and throw on a cute outfit, your baby has other plans for you. Your newborn doesn’t care if your wearing a brand new sweater, they will spit up on even the finest of cashmere. This not only ruins your look for the day, but also can leave you smelling like sour milk. This is where “frumpy” comes in to play.
During the first year of your child’s life you have undoubtedly experienced sleepless nights, loss of independence, and body issues. This can be life altering, but it doesn’t last forever.
Daily Mail found that it takes an average of 18 months for a new mother to feel like a “woman again.” That’s 547 days, which can feel like an eternity. 63% of women polled also said that a loss of “me time” attributed to their frumpy feelings.
If you are struggling, take solace in the fact that most moms are right there with you. The only thing you can do is to realize that this too shall pass, and try to schedule yourself some alone time.
1 Where Is My Time? – Resentful
After giving birth, you may find that you are feeling resentment. This can be focused towards your husband, friends, or even your new baby. This may sound sad and disheartening, but it is a common occurrence.
New moms crave personal space. This comes to no surprise due to the fact that you are breastfeeding and most likely have a baby attached to you at all times. If you find yourself shrinking at your husbands touch, or resenting the fact that he wants to be intimate, it’s okay. You might even resent the fact that your spouse gets to maintain their normal life, while your whole world has been knocked off its axis. It’s important to not let this feeling fester, and communicate with your husband.
You may also feel resentful towards your baby. They are the new addition to your life that is suddenly making your body unreliable, making it difficult to spend quality time with your spouse, meet up with friends, work, or simply be alone.
Anyone would feel a little grudge form at times.
You need to recognize this feeling and open up to your support network. Even though it is common to feel resentment at times in the beginning, if you find that you are constantly resentful of your baby, have difficulty bonding, and are not motivated to meet their needs, you may have postpartum depression. If you can say ‘yes’ to any of these thoughts, take the time to meet with a counselor.
References: World Health Organization, Psychology Today, Daily Mail, and Baby Centre.