While parenthood is generally a difficult journey for anyone, there’s something about a baby’s first year that takes a real toll on new moms. That applies particularly to those experiencing motherhood for the first time. From sleepless nights and hectic days to an overwhelming sense of confusion, anxiety, and isolation, new moms are often thrown in at the deep end, regardless of how prepared they thought they were throughout pregnancy.
These emotions and concerns are nothing new, of course; new moms have been facing such struggles within the privacy of their own homes for many, many of years. However, the rise of social media, lifestyle and so-called mommy bloggers, and access to new information has meant more moms coming forward to document the trials and tribulations of first time parenting – and it’s got the world talking. Indeed, while discussing issues such as postnatal depression, the difficulty of bonding with a new baby, and the battle with sleeplessness may once have been seen as something of a taboo by new moms who were expected to ‘just get on with it’ modern moms are more forward in coming forward. Even the mainstream media, which once shied away from giving such open advice, is more readily discussing parental issues with ease and confidence – a step that has no doubt enlightened and empowered thousands of women across the country.
So, what are some of the struggles facing new moms, and how can they be overcome?
Sleepless nights and frantic days
Regardless of how well a mom has rested herself in preparation for the birth of her baby, nothing will prepare her for the episodes of disrupted sleep that she’s likely to experience during the first weeks – even if her partner is on hand to shoulder some of the responsibilities associated with night feeding. Sleepless nights are enough to throw anyone off balance, and yet new moms must battle through feeding, changing, teething, colic, and much more, while attempting to maintain a sense of order during the day too. It’s little wonder, then, that so many new moms are stressed.
Low confidence and anxiety
In theory, motherhood should be one of the most natural, and easiest feats a woman can accomplish. Raising a baby isn’t quite so simple though, and despite all of the books and online advice infants don’t come with a manual when they’re born; babies are all different. Having a baby is a shock to the system, and many new moms will suffer from anxiety at one stage or another. From worries about germs and safety to the stresses associated with their baby's developmental milestones and the reasons a baby is crying, there are numerous hurdles for a new mom to face – and there’s a chance she’s not prepared for any of them.
The social media platforms that have offered new moms an outlet to vent can be the very the same reason they’re stressing in the first place; while it’s true that social media sites offer a wealth of information, support, and camaraderie, they also have the ability to destroy a new mom’s confidence in a heartbeat. Social and mainstream media sites are filled with opinions, and not all of those opinions will correlate with what a new mom has been taught thus far. From tiger parenting and co-sleeping to natural parenting and baby-led weaning, the world of a new mom is occupied by buzzwords and information. Dissecting that information and deciding what’s best for baby can come as a huge cause of stress for new moms.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness
Having a baby has a habit of drawing family members and friends even closer as they clamor to meet the baby and offer advice. At the same time, though, other friendships and interests may begin to fall apart – particularly if the mom is the first of her friendship group to have a baby. The moment a baby is born many new moms start to feel their identities slipping away, as they take on the role of mother and lose the party girl or career woman they’d become so used to being. Motherhood can be extremely isolating for some women, filled with hormones, changing bodies, a perceived lack of support, and a dwindling social life. Stress is bound to factor into a new moms life at some point.
There must be something that new moms can do
Luckily for modern moms, there are plenty of outlets offering advice, a shoulder to cry on, and an opportunity to vent. From mommy blogs and lifestyle websites, to advice from friends, relatives, and health professionals, there’s a whole world of information out there. Tidbits include:
New moms should arm themselves
The world of modern moms is littered with helpful devices and appliances to aid those first weeks of parenthood, many designed to combat the anxieties that new moms experience. Germs and baby safety can be a huge contributing factor to new mom stress, and so items such as a pacifier case to keep the pacifier clean often come as a huge relief; the odd stress-free day out can do wonders for a new mom’s confidence, and stand her in good stead for the weeks ahead. New moms shouldn’t worry about what other parents are buying, or what they’ve been told to purchase by well-meaning friends and relatives. Becoming a mom is about recognizing the little things that help along the way.
New moms shouldn’t be afraid to reach out
The rise in social and mainstream media commentary should empower new moms to reach out and ask for help if they need it; struggling with a new baby is nothing to be ashamed or concerned about, and there are so many outlets that new moms can access in times of stress and doubt. Whether they decide to read more mommy blogs, connect with friends on social media, or join mother and baby groups, new moms can and should take charge whenever they feel ready to. It has become apparent that the world has shrunk dramatically under the influence of the Internet; new moms have access to more information and advice than ever before if they’ll only reach out and grab it.
New moms can choose which advice is helpful
Since conflicting information can be one of the biggest causes of stress to a new mom, anyone approaching motherhood needs to realize that it’s okay to say ‘no’ to certain advice – particularly if it goes against their natural instinct or a particular train of parenting that they’re trying to follow. Indeed, most mommy bloggers out there will stress the importance of a new mom following her gut on any number of issues. Rather than viewing this information overload as a stressor, new moms should instead take an opportunity to be thankful that so many people are keen to help – especially if this is the only way they can retain their sanity!
Above all, new moms need to understand they’re not alone – they won’t be the first to experience those emotions and events, and they certainly won’t be the last. Sure, the moment that motherhood dawns can be a daunting one, but those feelings of exhaustion, confusion, and loneliness won’t last forever; in fact, times marches on incredibly quickly while a new mom is raising her child. There can be no denying that motherhood is very difficult, from birth into adulthood and beyond. Recognizing the lighter moments amongst all of the darkness is a blessing, though, and can pull many new moms through the difficult first weeks and months.