Motherhood is completely unique for each mother and child, whether you have one or multiple children. The reality of being a mother will occasionally (or frequently) be different than what you expected because you and your baby are not exactly like any other mom and baby. But when things don’t go as expected, you may find yourself having self-critical thoughts about how things should be, and you may feel like you’re just bad at this.
YOU.ARE.NOT.A.BAD.MOTHER. For one, you are wondering how you are doing as a mom, which shows that you care. And two, you are doing your best with the resources you have. There might be challenges that you did not anticipate, or you may be finding that reality is nothing like you expected. And while it doesn’t make it easier, how you are feeling is perfectly normal.
4 Myths about Motherhood That Are Not True
There are many myths about motherhood that can cause you to have self-critical thoughts or feelings of inadequacy when things don’t go as expected. Here are a few myths that I have encountered with my clients while working as a postpartum counselor:
Myth: Breastfeeding Is Easy and Natural
As moms, we receive messages from others and the media that “breast is best” and breastfeeding is easy and a natural process between mom and baby.
Reality: Many moms find breastfeeding to be more challenging than expected for many different reasons. Whether it’s how long it takes for your milk to come in, how your baby latches, the necessity of pumping, how much milk you produce, your baby’s feeding frequency, discomfort, or something else, breastfeeding can present many concerns and challenges.
Your breastfeeding experiences and choices are not a measure of your worth as a mom.
Myth: After Having a Baby I Can Do Everything
You might be thinking that I should be able to care for myself and my baby, maintain my other relationships, and accomplish tasks like I did before.
Reality: Caring for yourself and your baby requires your time, energy, and attention. If you have people to ask for help, now is the time to lean on them. Lean on your partner to ask their family or friends for help.
In a culture that emphasizes individual productivity, it can be tempting to try to keep up with all your daily tasks, goals, and relationships in the same way you did before your baby arrived. But the postpartum period is a season of receiving. Now is the time to ask for and accept support so you can prioritize your needs and baby’s needs.
Myth: Emotional Attachment Between Mom and Baby Happens Immediately
You may be thinking I don’t feel as emotionally connected to my baby as I should. There must be something wrong with me.
Reality: The bond between mom and baby does not always happen immediately. There are many reasons that it may take longer to develop that emotional connection with your baby. It is a process that takes time, like all relationships.
If your attachment to your baby is not immediate, don’t panic. Holding and spending time with your baby can help you develop that bond, which will also help you know how to best care for your baby when new challenges arise.
Myth: Moms Instinctively Know How to Soothe a Baby
You may have a “fussy” baby who cries a lot, and perhaps you believe that you will instinctively know how to soothe your baby.
Reality: Babies cry for many reasons: hunger, wet diapers, discomfort, over-stimulation, under-stimulation, sleepiness, gas, illness, or just wanting to be held. Some babies cry more than others and it can be very stressful for a mom whose baby does not soothe easily. Your baby’s cries do not mean you are inadequate. The best thing you can do for your baby is to be kind to yourself and find ways to stay calm.
When you notice yourself having those thoughts about how you should be or feeling like a bad mom, remember that perfection is not the goal. Moms who are good enough make mistakes, feel like they have no idea what they are doing at times, and are in a constant learning process about what their child(ren)’s specific needs are and how to meet them.
Hearing from other moms and sharing about these experiences can reduce distress associated with these thoughts and feelings. If you would like the opportunity to connect with other moms in the postpartum period, schedule a free consultation to find out how our Postpartum Support Group can help.
How We Can Help
If you’re a mom in the postpartum period (up to 1 year after giving birth), our Postpartum Support Group can provide you the support you need.
A postpartum support group to explore your emotions, share daily challenges and feel less alone in motherhood.
Interested in registering for the Postpartum Support Group? Great! Please use the link below to get more information and sign up.
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
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Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide affordable counseling, depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Becca Tarnowski is a Master’s level student counselor at Regis University and intern at Catalyss Counseling. She moved from Chicago to Boulder, Colorado in 2003 where she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Colorado. Becca currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, their 2 young children and their dog. Becca is an intern therapist provider for the affordable counseling program at Catalyss Counseling. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.