Welcome to the world of newborns!
Whether you’re a first time mom or a veteran that’s back in the thick of the sleep deprivation and cracked nipples, this is for you.
Welcoming a new baby is hard. And its totally normal to feel alone, particularly after you take you baby home.
But whether you’re familiar with the many facets of new motherhood or this is your first few weeks as a mom, I want to make something very clear: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There seems to be a lot more talk about motherhood and its difficulties than there was in the past, but even with more dialogue around the subject, its still very easy to feel like you’re the only one.
So here are struggles that are totally normal for a new mom:
Breastfeeding isn’t easy
For some reason people act like this will just come naturally and be incredibly simple.
But just so that you know, it’s not. At least, its not easy for a lot of new mothers.
Baby classes and lactation consultants can help, but for some moms breastfeeding just doesn’t work out.
Either because its too mentally taxing, you don’t produce enough breast milk, either you or your baby aren’t getting enough out of it, and a whole host of other possible reasons.
For some moms that may mean stopping altogether. For others, it means pushing through and finding ways to make it work, and for others it may mean doing a little breastfeeding and a little bit of formula feeding.
Mom guilt is real, and for some reason the pressure to breastfeed is one of those hot button topics that can really be a trigger. Especially for first time mothers.
But whatever you decide to do (or whatever your body decides to do– since it may not be entirely up to you), struggles with breastfeeding are normal.
You’re not the only one who is struggling with this topic and I’d be willing to bet if you discussed it with your social circle and truly talked with your friends about how breastfeeding was going with your newborn you’d hear a lot of people facing the same things.
Speaking of friends and your social circles, its not unusual for these relationships to change when you have kids.
That isn’t to say that your friendships are doomed or that your people won’t still be there for you.
But your relationships will likely change — at least for a period.
When I had my first son I basically dropped off the face of the planet for a period of time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and sucked into this new role in those first few months.
There’s a lot of adjusting you need to do and maybe you’re not as responsive to text messages and phone calls as you once were.
Or maybe your friends and family members don’t reach out like you expected that they would.
Even if you’re able to talk with and see your friends as much as you always have, if your friends haven’t had their own babies (or even if they have) they may not understand why you have to plan around your babies nap schedule. Or why you talk about your baby. Or have some altered interests than what you used to discuss.
There are so many different ways your relationships can change after your baby. But just try to remind yourself that this is a season. Not all seasons last forever.
Strain on your marriage/relationship
Phew, this one is a tough one.
As new parents, I knew having our first baby would be difficult, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on our marriage.
As it turns out, this is totally normal too.
Sleep deprivation, constantly being touched by a small human, suddenly having your world revolve around snuggling and keeping this little baby alive can be really difficult on mom and dad.
Many moms have a hard time with the resentment that can surface from having to be the primary person “on” at all hours of the night and day.
Many husbands can struggle with their own sleep deprivation and feeling neglected by their wife.
Both parties can feel guilty that they’re not doing enough, can struggle with postpartum depression, and struggle with the way that their world has shifted to revolve around this new little baby you both love all the time.
But while having a baby certainly can have a strain on your marriage/relationship, its important to recognize that the strain is there and work to reconnect with one another.
And I’m not talking sex (although, sure, that can be part of reconnecting). I’m talking about ways to get back to each other.
You’ll go through days and possibly weeks or months where you feel out of sync. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with your relationship.
But you can try to make little tweaks to do things differently.
Try to carve out time to talk. Or snuggle. Or watch a movie.
Leave the house together, or have a date-night in.
Ask family members to come listen out for the baby so you can both get some sleep.
This one was probably expected, but let’s just touch on it for a minute anyway.
New parents struggle with sleep.
Even if your baby is a fantastic sleeper, you will probably still feel like you’re not getting enough.
So whether your baby is giving you 15 minute stretches or 12 hour stretches, its totally normal and OK to feel like you’re not getting enough.
You’re keeping a baby alive. That’s a big and exhausting task.
You’re also probably dealing with a physical recovery and most likely you’re not getting adequate self care.
Give yourself some time to adjust and know that it’s ok to feel sleep deprived no matter how much sleep you’re getting.
This one is a little bit tough, because moodiness is not unexpected when you’re getting inadequate sleep, your body is still recovering from childbirth and pregnancy, and constantly on call as a new mom.
However, it is something both you and your partner should keep an eye on.
Moodiness/ baby blues/ anxiety can all come with the territory after giving birth. Sometimes they don’t show up right away, but it isn’t unsual to see these things crop up in those first weeks after giving birth.
However, moodiness can lead into a larger problem like postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. These things are best treated by a professional.
And before you panic thinking, “oh no! I’m moody!” this isn’t to say that moodiness isn’t a normal part of the process. It definitely can be and it’s totally normal for it never to develop into something more.
The key piece here is just to keep an eye on how you’re feeling and reacting to things.
Feeling like there isn’t enough time
One of the big issues I had with my maternity leave was the number of things I expected to get done during that time and just didn’t get to.
For some reason, even though you know it won’t be a vacation, if you’re on maternity leave it can feel like this your time to get stuff done.
Having a baby and being responsible for that child is a pretty tough gig. Its one of those normal new mom struggles that doesn’t get addressed because it seems to be a common misrepresentation — The time after your baby arrived is not a vacation for new moms. It’s not.
Feeling like you’ll miss something
Your newborn baby will go from sleeping constantly to sitting up and walking in what feels like a blink of an eye.
Its normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed that you’ll miss something.
But here’s the thing I finally came to terms with after my second child: we weren’t meant to be there for all of our child’s milestones.
And honestly, that still kind of hurts my heart.
The first time my oldest sang the ABC song all the way through was when he was alone in his bedroom. The only reason I caught it was because I had the baby monitor on.
As a new mom we want to be there for everything, from witnessing our children’s first words, to their first steps.
I think almost all of us feel that way.
So just remember that there are a lots of firsts, and we’ll get to be part of some of them.
And its ok to struggle with our inability to be there for everything and to ache when you think about how quickly everything is happening.
Feeling like you can’t keep up with other moms
Instagram can be really cruel to the struggling new mom.
Everything looks picture perfect from mom’s hair and makeup, to her home, to her baby who miraculously seems to be total clean and crispy. Not a drop of drool or any hint of a blowout on baby’s fresh new clothes.
But here’s where talking with other real moms and making new friends who understand your stage of life can be really cathartic.
Other moms should be able to put your mind at ease.
Your baby sleeps in 15 minute increments? Mine does too!
You dropped crumbs all over your babies head during dinner time because you needed to eat? Same, girl!
Find real women to talk to. Maybe join a baby group or talk to friends who have children. Find a Facebook group (or follow me on Instagram).
Find places that show a version of parenting you can relate to.
Because I promise, we’re all struggling. Some moms just have a better social media presence.
Your body will be different
First of all, a woman’s body absolutely changes after giving birth.
Once a baby has been born, your body doesn’t shoot back to your pre-baby body.
And while sometimes people will offer you unpleasant follow up comments, the most critical person is likely yourself.
It is normal for your body to be different after you give birth.
Pregnant women spend 9 months (give or take) growing a human baby (maybe even more than one)!
Its really hard to look in the mirror and say, “I want the old me back” and not being able to see her.
If possible, try to stay positive and remember all of the wonderful things your body has done for you.
You can work on getting back to a body type you’re more comfortable with as time progresses, but there is nothing wrong with the body you have RIGHT NOW.
Your body did a really wonderful thing. Built and birthed a person!
And if you’re breastfeeding there is a common misconception — it doesn’t mean your weight will bounce right back. Sometimes breastfeeding can make you hold onto some of that baby weight.
So if you’re struggling with looking in the mirror and not recognizing the woman staring back at you, you’re not alone. A lot of us struggle with this.
This is certainly a hot-button topic for a lot of moms, but if you’re having a hard time with friends or family members offering you their unsolicited advice, add this to the list of other things that come with the ongoing list of new mom struggles.
Once your baby’s born you can expect that every friend and family member has an opinion about something that they think will work best. Not all of them will offer you suggestions without you asking, but rest assured, many new moms deal with advice and suggestion about how to care for their new baby without asking.
I had my first son (who was the first grandchild on my family’s side) before the pandemic and my second son was born during the pandemic. And one thing that was consistent in both cases was this: my husband and I struggled with visitors.
After our first son was born we had too many visitors with not enough boundaries.
With our second, we had next to no help and we were struggling with balancing everything on our own.
So if you find yourself in the position of too many visitors, or the visitors you’re having aren’t helpful, this is actually pretty common.
And it can be really hard, because you don’t want to have to impose boundaries on the people you love, but you also need to respect the fact that you are a new mom who needs help. And sometimes that help is as simple as people not overstaying their welcome.
If you have visitors who fit into this category, you or your spouse will be best served if you set some firm boundaries.
Even if you don’t feel like fighting your mom over her desire to see her grandchild or your friend who wants to come over and eat your food while contributing nothing. Setting boundaries will help you and your child, especially in those early days.
Plus, boundaries will be a good way to break bad habits before they start with friends and family members.
If you find yourself without enough help or visitors, reach out to someone you love and trust.
Ask them to come pick up groceries so you don’t have to. Or hold the baby.
If you’re not comfortable asking someone you care for to help you (what’s the worst that happens — they say no?), consider these two choices: pay for help; or let go of the things that you can.
There are lots of grocery delivery options and pre-prepared meals you can order in many places.
But you can also come to terms with the season you’re in. Sure, you can’t go without food. But can you give up cleaning in those early days just so that you feel like you’re surviving a bit better?
Reaching out for help and lowering your expectations of yourself will do you a lot of favors in the long run.
Don’t feel like your meals are very healthy in those days after brining home a newborn?
Yup, that’s pretty common.
The sleep deprivation combined with the limited time and reasonable effort kind of join forces to make this one a pretty difficult transition period for new mothers.
So many of us have high hopes to be the picture of health for our babies so that we can be healthy for them during and after our pregnancy. But sometimes life gets the better of us.
If you’re having a difficult time getting adequate nutrition consider a healthy meal delivery service or purchasing a variety of food with your groceries so that you always have access to something healthy.
Emotions related to your birth story
I went into labor with both of boys with the expectation that birth wouldn’t exactly go to plan.
I didn’t want anything catastrophic to happen (obviously), but I tried to go into it with a very loose plan with regards to how the ideal process would go.
Both times my birth plan did not go according to plan.
Here’s the thing, some of us have plans that are just sort of imperfect, and that’s ok.
For some people there is nothing to process here.
But a lot of women have difficult, traumatic, or just unexpected birth stories.
And giving birth is a big deal.
With my second, my birth really rattled me.
So if you’re struggling with how to process the way your birth story played out, consider talking to someone about it.
Maybe that someone is your spouse, or mother. But you could also process the way you came into motherhood with a therapist or a doula.
But just know this, if you’re struggling with your birth story — you don’t have to feel alone in that struggle.
No matter how many picture-perfect moms you see on Instagram, everyone has a story to tell.
And we all have our struggles.
Don’t believe me? Just reach out to another mom. Her story might not be your story, but I guarantee she has struggles too.