The reality of motherhood isn’t all that glamorous. Motherhood is a time of learning. Moms learn about themselves as parents, as well as learn about what their little ones want, need, and prefer. Moms learn about the world around them and about how the people in that world will impact their parenting style, beliefs, and opinions. Sometimes, it also means learning how to kindly avoid the opinions and beliefs of others if they are toxic to a mama’s lifestyle.
Moms also start learning about the not-so-glamorous ins and outs of motherhood.
These can be details moms overlook when entering motherhood or aren’t always told about – and if they are, they’re often said in private. Sometimes these details are said privately because they can be embarrassing to some moms, even though many women are very outspoken about their unexpected motherhood moments. It’s great that some moms can be vocal about certain parts of parenthood that others may feel a bit uneasy about. Support is important and if other, more outspoken moms can offer that kind of support – it’s appreciated.
Between wild hormones and the usual new mom fears, speaking openly about certain topics can be tricky. However, realizing many other mamas feel the same way about some of those uncomfortable topics can help make the process easier – and sometimes laughable. Looking back and laughing at some of the weird, gross, or overly-anxious moments experienced can provide a sense of relief to a new parent.
20 The “Breath Check” Happens More Often Than Not
For some new mamas, “Parent Paranoia” starts setting in even before the baby is born. While people often think this kind of paranoia is part of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, it often just comes with being a mom.
Parenting Magazine says, “Being stricken by the sudden awareness of possible accidents and catastrophes is no more unusual for first-time parents to experience than worrying about whether the baby’s eating or has a temperature.”
And, yes, the famous “breath check” is included in this realm of normal paranoia.
“I was, and still am, always afraid she’ll stop breathing in her sleep,” says Mom of one, Tina Monachino. “I still check for a warm nose breath with the top of my finger.” Ashley Hopkins VanHusen agrees with the overboard, yet necessary “checking in” on child phase mamas go through.
“I check my babe 1,000 times a night,” Ashley, mother of one, says.
19 Stares When Nursing In Public Still Happen
Even though nursing in public is becoming a more normalized activity, it still isn’t as comfortable for many Moms as they’d wish it could be. It’s unfortunate how difficult it still is for exclusively nursing mamas when out in public and they need to feed their child.
Even with many public places having rooms set aside for nursing, it can still be an uncomfortable situation for many.
“There were some people I felt comfortable with not being modest around, but when we were in public, strangers were total creeps,” explains Mom of one, Lyssa Kurtzworth. “In the backseat of our car, with a cover on, when my daughter was days old, I had some guy stare me down and it left a bad taste in my mouth.”
18 That She's Struggling To Go “Number Two”
“For many women, the thought of a bowel movement after delivery is downright scary,” explains vice-president of Midwives Association of British Columbia, Kelly Hayes.
The struggle is very, very real when it comes to going “number two” after your baby is born. Whether you had a natural birth or a c-section, the struggle is often very frustrating (and very time consuming). During recovery, the nurse or midwife may give you prune juice or medications to help make the process a less irritating one, but sometimes, those supports don’t cut it.
“Not only was I terrified to have to push something else out a day or so after giving birth, but with breastfeeding, I literally felt like I couldn’t drink enough water on top of battling constipation,” explains Mama of one, Alicia Hospool. “It got so bad once that I thought I was going to have to go to the ER for some help!”
17 Sometimes, She Just Wants To Sleep
Even though new parents love and adore their brand new little bundle, they sometimes just want to pass the baton for an hour, cuddle under some covers, and actually sleep.
Feeling this way can sometimes play with a new mama’s emotions. She wants to be the best mom she can be, but she also knows sleep is important for her own health and well-being – something that plays a critical role when supporting her little one.
But then she also feels guilty for choosing sleep over choosing time with her baby.
It is normal to feel this way. This is a truth many others don’t realize hits home to mamas as often as it does. Finding time to close your eyes and take time to be yourself (apart from the “Mom” title) is important. It doesn’t mean you’re being a bad parent or neglecting your child. You are taking care of yourself.
16 Breastfeeding Isn’t Always All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Of course, breastfeeding and pumping have many positives. This is a truth often pushed on women from friends, family, and medical providers even before a baby is born. The truth is – not every woman wants to breastfeed and not every woman is able to produce enough to exclusively pump or nurse.
If a woman does not want to breastfeed, that is absolutely fine and she should not be judged because of it.
Breastfeeding also isn’t the most comfortable activity for some moms - even though they know it is a healthy route for their child. Between clogged ducts, leaking, soreness, and chaffed nipples – the reality of breastfeeding isn’t all that glamorous. It’s important for others, including professionals in the field, to understand this reality and understand that if a woman decides not to nurse, she shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it.
15 The Immediate Bond With Baby Isn’t Always There
People expect the moment a mama sees her little one to be the most magical, emotional moment ever experienced. They often expect tears and cries of joy and for the baby to immediately feel comforted in the arms of Mom. Even though this is a scene every new parent hopes to feel, it isn’t always the case.
“Babies aren’t ducklings with one chance to bond,” says Patty McNiven, midwife at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “It’s a process and there’s a lot of variation in how it happens.”
Remembering and remembering this truth is important. It is not only important for a new mom, but for everyone around her. When others ask a new parent about the connection they have with their little one, it can be a tough topic to face.
14 Guilt From Missing Those Pre-Pregnancy Days
While motherhood is a time many people look forward to experiencing, it doesn’t mean they won’t have moments when they miss their pre-pregnancy days.
Becoming a parent is chaotic and during the chaos, thoughts sometimes surface that can make a new mom feel like a horrible person. She may push aside these thoughts and not discuss them with others, but they often remain very real.
It’s okay to miss the days of being able to spontaneously go somewhere without needing to get a babysitter or pack a diaper bag. It’s okay to miss bar-hopping a couple nights a week or spending hours listening to the band play at a local coffee shop. These moments are memories and will forever be cherished, but it doesn’t mean a mama should feel guilty for reminiscing about them.
13 The Hormonal Rollercoaster Is As Real As Everyone Says
“I didn’t realize how powerful my hormones would be,” says Mama, Lyssa Kurtzworth. “They kept me happy during my pregnancy and all my previous depression went away overnight. After I had her, they, in turn, fueled my postpartum depression in the worst way possible.”
The word “hormones” is thrown around a lot during pregnancy and into the postpartum phase. While the word seems to have become normalized, facing those hormonal changes can be scary. Trying to understand them can be brutal because getting a handle on emotional frustrations sometimes makes a situation harder.
Lyssa believes having a support system to back you up is crucial – especially when many people around you may not take the hormonal change seriously. “Being vocal about it all and having the wonderful support system, that is my husband, has really helped me through the roughest seas of emotion.”
12 The Frustration When Hubby Sleeps Through The Night
For some reason, one parent usually is the one who hears every little cry in the night while the other peacefully snores away next to them. Even though family dynamics have changed quite a bit over the years, many new moms tend to relate to the following scene: Mom hears her little one stir while Dad snores and drools next to her and hears nothing.
Again, this may not be the case for every family, but there are many moms who absolutely understand this scenario.
“He complains about things that he doesn’t help with – like bed wetting,” says Michele Graham, mom of two. “I’m the one who wakes in the night for the change of clothes and dry bed while he peacefully sleeps. Funny and frustrating at the same time.”
11 When the Baby Struggles To Go “Number Two”
While going “number two” is stressful enough for a new mom herself, it also is stressful for her little one. No one realizes how often “poo” is discussed until a baby is part of the household.
Healthy Children explains, “A baby eating formula usually has a bowel movement at least once most days, but may go 1 to 2 days between bowel movement. For breastfed infants, it depends on age.”
New mom, Ashley Hopkins VanHusen, has faced this concern numerous times, “She didn’t poop for eight days and that was hard because she was in pain and I couldn’t help her. It’s very scary when they are crying in pain every time they pass gas or push to go potty and they can’t go. Nothing you do seems to help them.”
10 Showering Sometimes Just Doesn’t Happen
New moms will laugh about not finding time to eat or put on makeup or do their hair. While others may find this to be a laughable part of motherhood, it can be straining to find the time to make it happen.
Between pumping, preparing bottles, changing diapers, doing laundry, and soothing the baby during fussy moments – a mom really may not be able to sneak in a shower.
Therefore, her own hygiene sometimes gets pushed to the side in order to make sure her little one is content.
Some moms may bring their baby into the bathroom in a bouncer or bassinet since they do not want to lose sight of them for a second. Other moms are okay with leaving their little one in the swing or crib during a quick rinse-off. Finding what works best for you is important, but what’s most important is making time for yourself (and that hair).
9 “That Thing That Happens” When Mom Laughs Too Hard
Motherhood should be a time for making memories, joy, and laughter. Even though stressors and chaos come with the territory, looking back and laughing at those insane moments make it all worthwhile. However, it can be tough to look back and laugh when every time a mama laughs, a little pee comes out.
There’s no easy way to say it, but yes – it happens.
It’s something that is funny to talk about, but the reality of the situation isn’t always a laughing matter. The OBGYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch LLC explains, “Pregnancy can change the urinary control abilities for one-third to one-half of women who have given birth, so if you’re struggling with urine leaking then you’re definitely not alone.”
8 trying to Get Intimate After the baby's born
It’s a known fact that a lot changes once a baby joins the family. Another pretty known fact is that the relationship between Mom and Dad changes as well. Though these changes can often be positive ones, one fear may stick to a new mama’s mind after delivery.
This fear impacts both parents, but it can be hard for a mom to bring the topic to the surface – even if she has an outspoken, blunt personality.
This very real fear is the fear of closeness after delivery.
“Let’s just say, things don’t feel the same down there. Once the doctor cleared me, we tried. I was so upset that it didn’t feel right and hurt,” says new mama of one, Mallory Wisniewski. “I began researching other women with the same problem. This helped me feel a lot better about my situation and gave me hope.”
7 When people say a C-Section is The “Easy Way Out”
A C-section is a surgical procedure. That is often the one factor overlooked when discussing this form of delivery. C-sections leaves a scar that must be specifically cared for and the recovery time can be long and uncomfortable. A woman pretty much must learn to use her abdominal muscles and pelvic floor again and she may need additional physical assistance when sitting up and laying down.
When a mom hears someone say she did not “give birth” or she took the “easy way out” because she had a C-section, a mixture of emotions surface.
She may be angry because the C-section perhaps was due to health concerns or a dangerous pregnancy or a breech baby. She may feel confused because she did carry her little one for many months and was present when her baby was pulled out – so she did, in fact, deliver her child. She may feel embarrassed because she is being looked down at and stigmatized.
One thing is for certain: Those phrases never get less frustrating. Be mindful of the jokes being made and the wording you use – you never know how it could impact someone.
6 the changes that happen to her “Chest Region”
Whether or not a mama decides to breastfeed or pump, her chest will change. It’s the reality of womanhood and the hormones that go along with it. Even though some women have hormonal imbalances or issues with milk production, the chest area will often still go through a whirlwind of changes.
Between engorgement, leaking, soreness, and clogged ducts, a mama’s girls go through one heck of an adventure.
The adventure often leaves them looking much different than how they looked before Baby was born. Dr. Sharon Mass, MD, explains, “Since the skin on your breasts has been stretched, you may notice stretch marks and, sad, but true, the loose skin may make your breasts look saggier.”
This reality can sometimes be a little embarrassing or lower a woman’s self-esteem.
5 that she Will Want Time Away (And Feel Bad About It)
Between the bodily changes, constant visitors, soreness from delivery, and wanting to bond with baby, moms have every right to feel in over her head. The transition to motherhood is a beautiful one, but can also bring forward many unexpected stressors that others sometimes don’t see. New moms get tired and hungry and achy.
They may miss a moment when they could just sit back and relax without worrying about a crying baby or the growing laundry pile.
When a mom starts missing those quiet moments and wants some time for herself, she often feels horrible about it. The need for “Mom Time” can be something new moms just don’t want to bring up.
She may feel embarrassed about wanting a few minutes away from her baby who she loves so much. She also may be extremely nervous about leaving her little one with someone else. These struggles are often barriers that a new mom learns to overcome with time, but it doesn’t mean the guilt won’t linger.
4 Admitting That “You Don’t Get It, You’re Not A Mom” Is True
Before becoming a mother, this line was said nonchalantly by many people who were either new or experienced moms. The statement used to frustrate me.
I thought I knew enough about appropriate parenting techniques, milestones, and child safety to join discussions with moms. Other non-moms (like me, at the time) also would do this without thinking twice.
Once I became a parent, however, I found myself using the “you don’t get it” line and thinking back to all those times I despised hearing it from others. When you haven’t been pregnant or experienced sticking to a routine, delivery recovery, staying awake all night, or the toxic “Mom-Shamers” out there, you really don’t 100% understand.
3 Facing The Reality Of Miscarriages
The topic of miscarriages is tough. It is a topic people know about, but it is a topic often pushed aside or avoided altogether. The discussion can often be an uneasy one, but it is a reality more and more people are opening up about.
With women becoming more vocal about their miscarriage experience, it has allowed others to feel less alone when faced with this struggle.
“So many women, too many women, have experienced a miscarriage, but remain silent about it. It was [scary], lonely, and confusing,” explains Renee Saraceni, a mother of two who personally faced this devastating situation. “Talking about it helped so much. So many others reached having experienced the same that I had no idea.”
2 Accepting That Postpartum Is Hard
Self-esteem and confidence are tough to get a solid grasp on even before the pregnancy. When the saggy skin, droopy boobs, and stretch marks start really making an appearance, that positive self-esteem may feel like a long, lost dream.
Other people may not realize how genuinely tough it is for a mom to accept her new body – especially when she is stuck in a tornado of a million other changes. You can use every coping skill in the book and focus on the positives all day long, but sometimes, it just doesn’t cut it (especially when celebrities throw around unrealistic expectations).
Finding ways to improve your self-esteem every day can help a new mom see these changes in a different light. Of course, it isn’t easy, but opening up about the struggles you are facing can be healthier than bundling them all up. Your body changed for a reason and that reason is a beautiful one.
1 And That Burnouts Are very real
New moms are often ecstatic about getting to bond with and learn everything they can about their new baby. They will do everything in their power to make sure they spend as much time as they can snuggling and holding and rocking their little one.
Even though the love a mom has for her baby doesn’t decrease, her patience and stamina may over time.
This doesn’t mean she wants to throw in the towel or stop “Momming” altogether. She just may feel tired, achy, and empty of energy from the ongoing, continuous care a baby needs. When you become a mother, there is a major lifestyle shift that includes the possibility of these kinds of stressors. However, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Making time for yourself is important and healthy.
Vocalizing your burnout frustrations can make others see beyond the “Always-Happy Mama Mask” to view how hardworking and dedicated mamas are even when they are feeling in over their heads.
References: Statements from “real-life” moms who gave consent to use direct quotes (via Momhood Mayhem on Facebook and jenniferalinewrites on Instagram), Parenting Magazine, Kelly Hayes (Midwives Association of British Columbia)/Today’s Parent, Patty Mcniven (McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario)/Today’s Parent, Healthy Children, OBGYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch LLC, Dr. Sharon Mass (MD)/ Parents