A New Mom’s Feelings of Inadequacy - Woodmam

Aye, aye, aaaaaye! Am I really ready for this?

Mothering a baby is a magnificent experience, but it’s neither automatic nor instinctive. Unless you’ve spent lots of time baby-sitting or helping with younger siblings, don’t be surprised if your new baby makes you feel you need six arms—like a Hindu deity. For most women, mothering their newborn is the toughest job they’ve ever had!

After talking to thousands of new mothers, I’ve made an “Aye, Aye, Aye” list of the top ten stresses that can undermine a new mom’s self-confidence—and make even a goddess start to crumble:

1. Intense fatigue

2. Inexperience

3. Isolation from loving family and friends

4. Insufficient isolation from intrusive family and friends

5. Inconsolable crying (the baby’s, that is)

6. Irritating arguments with your spouse

7. Instant loss of job income and gratification

8. Insecurity about your body

9. Instability of your hormones

10. Indelible barf stains on every piece of clothing you own

Of course, these problems pale when compared to the vivid joy and feeling of purpose your baby brings into your life. However, new mothers enter a vulnerable psychological space after giving birth, and fatigue and fear can even further distort your perceptions. You’re in the midst of one of life’s most intense experiences and, particularly if you have a colicky baby, waves of anxiety and depression may repeatedly wash over you during these initial months. (For more on postpartum depression, see Appendix B.)

Fortunately, the pressures you feel today will soon melt into a warm love that will probably be more powerful and profound than any other you have ever felt. In the meantime, please be tolerant of yourself, your husband, and, especially, your baby.

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