Friday, May 12, 2017

Adjusting to Motherhood

Becoming a mom is a beautiful, amazing gift from God. Knowing that for nine months, you kept your baby safe, nourished him or her in order to sustain life, and prepared for a lifetime of giggles, smiles, and tons of memories. 

You go into labor, deliver your baby, and are then handed this precious life – a baby who knows nothing other than the warmth of your body and the sound of your heartbeat. You’re given a few days of recovery in the hospital and then released into the world of motherhood, with the assumption that everything is going to be perfect. 



But wait – where does it say that life with a newborn baby has to be perfect? Where does it say that you aren’t allowed to cry, that you aren’t allowed to second guess yourself as a mother? Where does it say that your whole day will be smiles and moments of perfection? 

Did you know that May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month?
Did you know that Maternal Mental Health disorders impact 15-20% of pregnant women and postpartum women?
Did you know that 600,000 women each year in the United States suffer from depression, anxiety, or OCD?

As a new mom, you’re sleep deprived, emotional, and are trying to find the balance between life as it was before you brought home that sweet baby to a new kind of “normal” as you adjust to everything that comes your way. 

As a new mom, you’re trying to do it all – trying to care for your newborn, trying to raise any other children/toddlers in the house, trying to be the best wife, trying to keep the house clean, trying to make the best dinners, etc. 

It’s overwhelming. 

And it’s okay to feel this way. 

Social media has placed a stigma on motherhood that makes all of us want to be the perfect mom. To have the baby who is the happiest, takes the best naps, nurses perfectly, never cries, etc. Yes, social media is a great place to share those happy moments. But social media isn’t always real life – it’s what others want you to think about their lives. I’m not saying that there aren’t babies out there who are always happy, rarely cry, and have perfect schedules – because they do exist. But for the majority of new moms, these things aren’t always possible. Add in the raging postpartum hormones and life isn’t always full of sunshine. 

And this is okay. 

One thing that I wish more people would do is ask -- ask a new mom how she’s doing. Yes, we always ask how the baby is doing – but it’s the mom who just went through a life-changing event.  Most of the time, she’ll probably respond “fine”. But ask more than once. Ask how she’s feeling, ask how she’s sleeping, ask how she’s adjusting to life with a baby. 



Most women go back to their OB six weeks after delivering their baby – a lot of feelings can develop within those six weeks.  A mom might be ecstatic one moment and then crying behind the bathroom door the next because their sweet baby has colic. Or because they found themselves struggling with breastfeeding. Or because they are just so tired, they cannot think straight. 

Three weeks after delivering my second daughter Katherine, I developed severe postpartum complications, including hemmoraging and needing multiple surgical procedures. It was a scary time in my life – here I was trying to balance life with an 18 month old toddler and a newborn and before I knew it, I was rushed to the hospital after my doctor discovered retained placenta inside of my uterus. I was lost. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I haven’t really talked about my recovery from these complications, because to be honest, I’m still healing. Yep. I’m over one year postpartum and I still have anxiety. 

So I’m 1 in 7. I’m one of seven women who are dealing with PMAD (perinatal mood or anxiety disorder).

When a women has a baby, she has so many emotions – so ask. Ask her how she’s doing.  Ask her about how the baby is doing.  Ask her what you can do to help her.  Because, moms matter. They are after all, part of the miracle of bringing a baby into the world.  

Disclaimer: If you’re a new mom and you are experience feelings of sadness, being overwhelmed, feeling lost, please seek help from your doctor. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – you are not alone. There are support groups, therapists, and other treatments available.  

Maternal Mental Health facts were gathered from:
www.mmhcoalition.com 
www.maternalmentalhealthalliance.org
www.wmmhday.postpartum.net 
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12 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this!! I didn't have PMAD but I cried so much during the newborn days. I love the awareness and the support you are providing through this post!!

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    1. It's amazing feeling all of those emotions once your sweet baby is in your arms!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm currently trying to conceive but just knowing that others feel this way gives me a sort of peace. Social media does pressure others into thinking of the perfect picture of motherhood but when others share their true experiences, I feel like I'm not alone. Thanks again for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. So many hugs on your journey to conceiving! I love social media but I find such joy in sharing the real side of motherhood, even if it includes the dark points!

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  3. This is such an important message – thank you for sharing it! The emotions after having a baby are all over the map, and it's so important to know that A) that's OKAY and normal, and B) when to get help.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! It's just so important for women to know that it's OKAY to get help! No one is here to judge!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it's so important to talk about this topic!

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  5. This is so true! The hard part is asking for help because you don't want to feel like a failure as new mom. When I had my first I was depressed. One minute I was happy and the next I was sad. I felt like I was dropped into this whole new world that I knew nothing about. I became a stay at home mom after working 3 jobs and I know my husband and I wanted this baby but I was also self sufficient and having to rely on him for my financial needs was the biggest adjustment in our relationship. It brought a lot of strain.

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  6. This is a great post! I did experience anything until this year when I had my third baby. For a few weeks after I was consumed with sadness and guilt. I did have an attachment with him but I definitely dipped into a bit of a depression. Thankfully I have a great support system that helped me get through the rough patch!

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