Becoming a new mom is the most incredibly blissful yet overwhelmingly trying adventure that many long to experience. It was once said that “A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”What you imagine is holding a perfect newborn baby that mirrors you and your husband. What some women do not expect is the postpartum depression and anxiety that you might experience along the way. What you imagine is a lot of baby cuddles and adorable outfits in the first few months of your baby’s life. What some women do not anticipate is the lack of sleep and how that affects their body.
What you imagine is a new baby that gives you and your spouse an unbreakable bond. What some couples do not anticipate is how a new baby can alter their relationship emotionally, physically, and spiritually if they let the everyday stresses overwhelm their souls and underwhelm your relationship.
What you imagine is experiencing the deepest love you’ve ever felt, only to find out love doesn’t just happen. Just like any other relationship, there is a getting to know you process that takes time and effort. Just like you didn’t fall in love with your spouse overnight, there is a similar process that has to happen with your little one that requires more patience and sacrifice.
Let us consider these scenarios:
- Steph is the new mom of three-week-old, Ezra. While the birth went smoothly, Steph did not anticipate feeling so in love yet so overwhelmed by this new adventure. She sleeps no more than two hours at a time due to breastfeeding demands. Her husband is a firefighter who has returned to twenty-four-hour shifts, and she feels so alone while trying to navigate her new normal. She cries a lot, worries about every little thing, and tries to cry in private and put on a happy face when she is around her friends, family, and husband. Steph does not want to burden anyone because she feels like there is nothing serious going on with her feelings, she is just trying to figure it all out.
- Betty is the new mom of one-month-old, Dylan. Betty and her husband have been facing financial difficulties for some time, and now that the baby is here, she feels as though her anxiety is heightened. She stresses how the bills will be paid and how they will afford to purchase diapers, pay the hospital bill, and still go on dates from time to time.
- Nancy and Ted have faced issues in their marriage for quite some time. About a year and a half ago, Nancy saw a text pop up on Ted’s phone from another woman. It came to light that Ted had had an affair. Nancy and Ted attended counseling together and have worked ridiculously hard at restoring the broken parts of their relationship. Now that the baby is here, Nancy is worried that her tiredness and body changes will lead to insecurity and the rehashing of old problems. She also fears a lack of intimacy between them. She is unsure of how to navigate these feelings and what to do should old feelings resurface.
Becoming a new mom is not only a matter of trying to navigate life with a new family member but also to navigate a different kind of life as a couple. Your time is more limited, the body is tired, and your feelings are all over the place due to a lack of sleep alongside hormonal changes.
New moms often face feelings of insecurity because of their after-baby bodies, which for women with already low self-esteem can be difficult to maneuver and figure out.
Things to Consider as a New Mom
As you navigate life as a new mom or support someone else as they are navigating life as a new mom, here are a few things to consider:
Sleep will be inconsistent, and emotions will be heightened.
It is important to be aware that as sleep is inconsistent and even nonexistent, new moms can face a wide range of emotions. Postpartum anxiety, baby blues, and postpartum depression are all common in new moms.First, if the new mom is able, she needs to rest when she can. She should try to rest when the baby is sleeping or ask a parent or spouse to take a turn with the baby so she can rest. As the new mom’s body runs on empty, it makes it more difficult for her body to heal and for her emotions to normalize.
Second, it is important to support a new mom and check on her regularly. See how she is feeling and healing. Ask her about her emotions so she does not feel the need to keep them bottled up. Tell her it is okay to feel sad or overwhelmed as she is figuring out a whole new adventure. It does not make her a bad mom to feel both blissful and overwhelmed at the same time.
Find a support system to help establish your sense of normalcy.
As a new mom tries to navigate new sleep schedules, feeding schedules, and around the clock care, she must have a support system to help her ease into it. As her body heals, she must be also supported. If you are looking to help a new mom, offer to drop her off a coffee, take the family a warm meal, or offer to help her do some things around the house.
If your schedule allows, ask if she needs anything from the grocery store or any errands that need to be run, allowing her the opportunity to focus on her baby and not feel overwhelmed by all the to-dos. If you are a new mom, allow others to help you.
Allow others to run errands, bring you a meal, accept the offer for a coffee, or let your spouse or parent hold the baby so you can take an uninterrupted shower or fold a load of laundry without being overwhelmed that the baby needs to be picked up. Accept help. You will need a strong support system as you recover and as you raise a child.
It is okay to ask for help – now or later.
It is important to know that it is okay to ask for help – whether it is in the first few weeks of establishing your new schedule, or months down the road when you have already discovered your routines. New moms are often overlooked after those first few weeks, however; motherhood is an ever-changing adventure, full of new feelings and new twists and turns.New moms need to be aware that postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression can begin weeks or months after their child’s birth. It is never a bad time or too late to ask for help. If you know a new mom, offer to take her a meal/coffee/help her after the baby is born, but continue checking in on her for months to come.
Embrace your new normal.
If your new normal is now vomit on your t-shirts, watching shows at 2:00 AM to stay awake while the baby eats, and your dates are long trips to Walmart with your spouse and baby in the car seat – try to embrace that new normal and know that it will not last forever.
God will give you the strength you need for the long nights and the heart big enough to make memories in the mundane. The mundane is not always blissful, but it might bring some of the best memories of your life. Take advantage of any time you can with your spouse – even if it is a quick card game or movie before bed.
Sherene Simon said, “Being a mother is discovering strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed.”
If you are crying excessively, feeling depressed, feeling guilt, having panic attacks, feeling angry or hopeless, have a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, experiencing insomnia, or having mood swings, it might be time to schedule a counseling session. It is never too early to begin working through your emotions and having a support system to help you navigate this new life.
With the birth of a new child also comes the birth of a new woman – do not feel like your individual journey is over – it is only just beginning. You are like a butterfly, finding your wings and beginning a new way of life.
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