Becoming a mom is difficult. Literally.
First-time mothers can be in labor for up to 24 hours or more while going through three stages each with multiple parts of various lengths.
And that’s the easy part.
The unknown can be a scary thing, which is why self-doubt and worry are typical of moms-to-be as they prepare for the arrival of their first child and the experiences that come with becoming a parent. Once the baby arrives, new moms are often overwhelmed with anxiety that has continued to snowball since the moment they learned of their pregnancy. Connecting and bonding with your baby can seem like a worrisome ordeal — you’re not alone.
New moms can feel overwhelmed by a really wide range of emotions. Is this normal?
Having a child is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have. It marks a monumental shift in a person’s development as they grow from individual to parent.
So, the vast number of emotions felt during this time is perfectly normal and totally expected. In fact, the emotions new moms and dads experience can go all the way from pure ecstasy and excitement to utter depression and hopelessness, along with everything in between. One moment may seem to be overflowing with bliss and the next filled with self-doubt.
This “rollercoaster” can do a number on a new mom’s mental health, let alone anyone. Expressing all of these emotions is absolutely normal. It is when new moms minimize or deny these feelings that they and their newborns can feel distressed.
What can new moms keep in mind to feel confident of themselves as a new parent?
The self-doubt new moms often feel stems from their innate desire to be the “perfect” parent. First, there is no “right way” to raise a baby. Everyone is different. While it can be tough because the child does not come with instructions and you may not feel like you know what to do, in the end, everything typically turns out fine as long as you act from a place of love and care for yourself and your baby. Having self-doubt means you care. You’re questioning things and showing you’re invested in the situation. Funny enough, caring is way more important than knowing exactly what to do.
When it comes to developing a relationship with the baby, what should new moms do?
Parent-infant engagement is critical to the mental health of both mom, dad, and baby. As humans, we need touch to survive. We yearn to connect with others. We are social creatures who do not survive for long on our own. Developing infants require frequent and intentional parental contact to begin forming good relationships for life. So, it is vital for a new, developing family to negotiate and establish new routines that set the stage for quality time as a family.
The development of a baby’s cognitive, social, verbal, and emotional skills goes hand in hand with the quality of time the parents spend with their baby just by doing activities we naturally do.
New moms can positively impact their baby for a lifetime by incorporating these acts into their baby’s daily routine:
- Intentional long-term attention, like smiling and making eye contact
- Gentle touches, like holding and cuddling
- Consistency in home life routine and relationships
- Maintain a safe and healthy home environment
- Consistent and genuine positive regard
- Quality care and attention
- Talking with your baby
- Sing or play nursery rhymes
- Read together
Mental health is a growing concern for our nation. Is this something new moms should be worried about?
Even though the term “mental health” often has had a negative connotation it is starting to become something more people talk about in the open. Much like you see your doctor for an annual physical to make sure your body is okay, make time for your mind. The birth of a child is a major life-changing event. We encourage moms and dads-to-be to participate in a mental health wellness checkup.
It is important to acknowledge that postpartum depression occurs in 1 out of every 8 new mothers If you sometimes don’t know why you feel like you do and can’t shake the feeling, please contact your physician and ask for help identifying a therapist who can help guide new moms. You and your baby need every part of you at this time. Postpartum depression’s most significant signs are feeling numb or disconnected from your baby or maybe feeling emotionally sensitive and preferring to be alone. Seek medical attention as soon as possible so you and your baby can live happier and healthier.
What else should new moms know?
Watch this video of family and marriage therapist Susan Harrington, founder of Maison Vie New Orleans, share tips on how you can bond with their baby postpartum. You can also contact us to see how we can help guide you through personal counseling sessions.