Motherhood

New baby: 10 common emotions in early motherhood – and how to deal with them

mum-emotions

May 18, 2022 – 2:29 p.m. BST

Anna Mathur




Never was there such a roller coaster of emotions than at the start maternity.

One moment we can be immersed in utter wonder, and the next we are overwhelmed by a wave of… overwhelm. When we’re tired, it can feel harder to ground, calm, and reassure ourselves as the feelings come and go.

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As a mother of three and a psychotherapist, I have had many experiences navigating the wide variety of emotions of motherhood with my clients, and more often with myself, on a tired Wednesday afternoon when one feels that everyone wants a piece of me, yet I only have dregs!

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In my new book, The Little Book of Calm for New Moms: Grounded Words for the Highs, Lows, and Times in Betweenyou will find words of support for many emotions that all new moms face.

Here are ten of the most common new mom emotions and experiences, with a hint of proven advice on how to handle them…

Anxiety

Know this for certain: Anxiety distorts every stat you might read on a midnight Google scroll, leaving you fearing the worst with almost certain confidence that it will happen to you.

Remember that someone else’s experience or story does not dictate your outcome. So when your mind rushes to play the “what if” game, stop the spiral of thoughts in their tracks by counting from 100 by threes!

AFTER: 7 helpful breastfeeding tips for moms from an infant feeding expert

mother-baby

baby blues

The baby blues is a wave of low mood and mild depression that occurs shortly after your baby is born. It can be triggered by low energy levels and the huge hormonal changes taking place in your body.

Please be gentle with yourself. Whether you had your first or fifth baby, your life changed overnight. Monitor your moods and if the fleeting baby blues turn into lingering gray clouds, seek help from a midwife or doctor.

Comparison

Comparison can motivate us to seek new experiences and improve some aspect of our abilities or personality. However, it can also take a hit to our self-esteem. Become aware of those times when you compare yourself to others. Remember that we all have different realities behind the scenes.

After years of being a therapist, the one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that everyone has their own struggles, insecurities and challenges. Remembering this can help take away some of the self-destructive power of comparison.

mom-book

The Quiet Bit for New Mums, £11.04, Amazon

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feel like a burden

Many of us find it easier to support others than to ask for or accept support ourselves. Challenging the fear of being a burden to others can be life changing. We want to teach our children that they deserve support too, and nothing is more powerful than modeling that.

Remember that friendships come and go. Sometimes one person needs more support than the other, and then things turn around again! This is your time and your turn to be supported as you navigate new motherhood.

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Guilt

The most important thing to remember about mom’s guilt is that it’s there as a little red flag to get you to do something. It can inspire you to seek support, fulfill a need, find a new trick or tool to help you when you face the same challenge next time. When we use feelings of guilt as a stick to fight against, we negatively affect our confidence and well-being.

The next time you feel guilty, how could you alter, modify, or equip yourself with something, and then, knowing that the guilt has served its purpose, let it go?

Insomnia

Despite the exhaustion, it’s so common for new moms to find that once their baby is in a deep sleep, they can’t fall asleep on their own. Often, when we are tired, we can add a lot more pressure on our sleeping possibilities.

One of my favorite tips is to remember that all rest is good, useful, and productive, even if it’s not sleep.

Use a simple breathing technique like inhaling for four and exhaling for seven to calm adrenaline or stress. Then, encourage yourself to try to enjoy this quiet, quiet, restful time. Removing sleep pressure can actually introduce it!

anna mathur

Author and psychotherapist Anna Mathur

Overwhelmed

Overwhelm the blows when we have to repeatedly exceed the limits of our resources. Maybe it’s the need to keep moving all day despite being exhausted, or to feed your baby when you could get by with a big meal. Maybe these are the times when you have to take care of your baby when you’re not feeling well and you’d better spend a day in bed.

When you feel overwhelmed, think about what you can delay, delegate or delete from your to-do list! You really can’t do it all, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed, now’s the time to see what you can get off your plate.

In tears

Crying in itself is a productive and healing release. It is a way of letting go of something that is being held, whether you can label or name the feeling or not. Our reaction is often to hold back our tears or apologize for them, but by letting them go, you are welcoming a release of happy hormones.

If you’re feeling lonely, consider calling someone who’s always been kind and supportive. If you find yourself in tears often, watch it and seek help if needed.

Unsolicited advice

I have never received so much advice as when I became a mother! Advice from passers-by, advice from friends, advice powered by algorithms on newsfeeds. When everything feels a little overwhelming, remember that just because something works for someone else and their baby doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Pay attention to your instincts and see if they match the advice you received. If it’s not for you, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re doing something wrong. It’s because you do it your way.

the wing

I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to know what we’re doing the moment we enter motherhood.

Isn’t it an immense pressure to put on ourselves when you consider how you would feel stepping into a new job role you’ve never done, in an industry you’ve never worked in ? You recognize that you would need to learn on the job, rely on the experiences of others, and ask lots of questions as you gain confidence.

Motherhood is exactly the same. Each baby I’ve had has brought with it different needs and characteristics that I have to adapt to. Remember that we grow as we go. It takes time to learn the ropes, and it’s a good thing to do to give yourself a break to learn on the job. Above all, try to approach your feelings with the kindness and compassion that you offer a friend.

Feelings are not facts, they are simply emotions that pass through us, changing in intensity and form. It can be so easy to want to change them, analyze them, judge them or reject them entirely.

As we clarify our emotions, we gain confidence in knowing that they will flow through us, and what feels intense in the moment will subside over time. If you are having difficulty in any way or if you feel that certain emotions remain “stuck”, please seek help by contacting a friend or trusted professional.

The Little Book of Calm for New Mums by Anna Mathur, Penguin Life, May 26 edition (£12.99)

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