Do All New Moms Feel Like I Do?
Do all new moms feel this way?
Oh, I had the most beautiful birth plan. The best ever birthing partner (my sister) and the cutest little clothes to take our new little wonder home in. What I did not prepare for was how I was going to feel after I had this little crying, struggling to latch, never sleeping, bundle of (not so much) joy.
I was tired all the time but could not sleep. I was constantly listening for when he wakes up or needs me. Whenever I heard him cry, I could feel my stress levels rising and the anxiety knocking in my chest. I struggled to properly take care of myself and, most of all, I was scared of my baby and didn’t want to be left alone with him. I did not know if this was normal.
Did all new moms feel this way?
Ironically enough, my friend, also a clinician, felt this way after her second baby. She wondered if all moms with a toddler and a new baby felt this way. We didn't know any better – and neither of us asked for help until months later. Can you imagine the mom's guilt as we “should” have known better? More about mom guilt and all these “shoulds” in a later blog!
So, how do we know when we need to ask for help? Here is a simple list of questions, adapted from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to help you decide if you are at risk and perhaps need additional support.
In the last week, have you been:
Having a hard time laughing or joking around?
Struggling to look forward to things?
Blaming yourself unnecessarily when things go wrong?
Anxious or worried for no good reason?
Feeling scared or panicky for no good reason?
Feeling like you are struggling to cope?
Struggling to sleep?
Feeling sad or miserable?
So unhappy that you cried often?
Thinking of harming yourself?
When you read these questions, can you see how it matches my description of the time after I had my son? It wasn’t merely baby blues and no, new moms do not have to feel this intensely unhappy or anxious all the time. If you do, it may be time to reach out for help.
But why ask for help at all?
Clearly, there is a strong discomfort in the way I was feeling but this also affected my relationships with my partner and, most of all, my son. Like most moms, I had these idyllic pictures of cuddling and laughing with the baby. But if you are feeling anxious, depressed, and struggling to cope you are much less likely to bond with your baby. And now it becomes really important – not only do you as a mom deserve to feel better, but you also want to encourage positive and secure attachments.
The Uniqueness of the First Attachment Relationship (in the smallest of nutshells)
Research shows us that secure attachments to primary caregivers pave the way for positive relationships in future. I am not telling you this to add to your burden, guilt, or maybe self-blame, I am highlighting this to celebrate the unique position we are in. How wonderful that we can help form the way our children relate and connect to others! But this part is super hard if we do not feel like ourselves.
Now, moms sometimes feel like they do not deserve time or resources for themselves and this is another reason why I want to highlight the importance of a baby's first relationships. When you reach out for help you’re not only doing it for yourself, you are also doing it for your new baby and your family. So even though you absolutely deserve it, and I hope you know that, this is an added motivation just in case you feel guilty about reaching out.
If you recently had a baby and are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or panicky and wondering if you perhaps need support, contact our office at (613) 877-4148 or email@example.com to set up a free 15-minute consultation to help you get started. Don’t worry, it’s virtual!
I’d be happy to hear about what is going on for you and to help you thrive (as opposed to merely surviving).