By Mandy Rees
Bringing a child into the world is a life-changing moment. Being responsible for another human is terrifying.
Your life is full of daily challenges you simply did not anticipate. No-one, no book and no course can prepare you for mothering. It’s something you have to experience from the inside and we all respond in different ways. I’m sure you view the judgements made and new-baby gifts bought by the pre-mother you in a whole different light now that you are the receiver of them.
You feel emotions and view situations in a completely different way. You have a whole new layer of responsibility to navigate and that feels unknowingly heavy at times. You are beginning to realise that motherhood is not as you expected and that you might not be as ready as you thought you were.
For all these reasons and more, it’s really important that you are honest with yourself, your partner and your family about how you are feeling. I’d go so far as to say that it’s essential. You’re fragile. Think of yourself as a butterfly newly emerged from the chrysalis of pregnancy. You need time for your wings to dry before you can have a good old ‘shake it off’ and get used to your new skin.
Admitting that you’re not enjoying every aspect of being mum or that it’s harder than you expected isn’t easy. Here are a few things that help make this sharing feel lighter:
- Help others help you – you’re going through a new stage in your life and your emotional well-being is wobbly. Bottling up your emotions isn’t helpful to you or those trying to help you. Let other people in by explaining to them how you are feeling. It’s OK if you don’t know what they can do to change anything, simply talking your feelings out loud can make them feel less heavy. By being true to yourself, your loved ones will know how you feel and be able to provide more tailored support.
- Baby blues vs postpartum depression – you might remember those tearful days at around 2-4 days after your baby was born. They are often called the baby blues. Your mood might have swung from being happy one minute to sad the next and you felt as though you had no control over your emotions. This is pretty normal due to hormonal changes as your body adjusts from pregnancy to post-childbirth. They usually go at around 10 days post-birth. However, if these feelings are lingering, you might be experiencing some form of postpartum depression that you cannot navigate alone and need additional support. I cannot stress how important it is to be honest if you’re feeling anything off within yourself. Things to look out for include: still feeling down or sad, crying often for no reason, a sudden loss of appetite or pleasure, weight gain or weight loss and not feeling attached to the baby. You have nothing to fear but please tell someone how you feel so that they can support you in getting the right help.
- Recognising that your relationships need honesty – keeping things from those who love and care about you strains those relationships. When you withhold things from the people around you and keep whatever you’re going through to yourself- not only could you be making them feel untrustworthy, you’re also bottling up your emotions and they are only going to boil over eventually. Bottled emotions can lead to resentment and passive aggressive behaviour which gets you nowhere. Sharing with someone shows that you trust and value them which strengthens your relationship.
- You are not alone – most new mums experience some form of anxiety or depression. The NHS estimates that at least 1 in 10 new mums experience postnatal depression. I did. The mums who look like they have it all together really don’t. It often only takes someone as wonderful as you to be brave and to ask ‘How are you really finding things?’ for honest and compassionate conversations to open up that help every mum.
- You baby needs you to do this – your baby needs you to be happy, physically and emotionally well and honest because that makes you as good a mum as you can be. You are also role modelling that all emotions are important and that no feelings need to be hidden away.
Please know that you don’t have to keep things to yourself. You’re wanted, your feelings are valid – whatever they may be. In order to be happy, you have to take care of yourself and the starting point for this is often being honest with yourself and the people around you.
Mandy Rees is an expert in holding space and creates Mother Circles where women can share their motherhood experiences honestly and without fear of judgement. She is the founder of Mother for Life and the unique Mother Circle Guide Programme, an empowered feminine leadership programme through which beautiful Mother Circles businesses are created all over the world. Mandy is also a lawyer, yoga teacher, baby massage instructor and emotional wellbeing coach. She works one to one with women who want to achieve balance and authentic fulfilment in their life. She can really help you if you’re feeling stuck. You can follow Mandy on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.