Myths of Motherhood Final Installment: The Myth of the "Good Mother"


Close your eyes. Create an image or picture in your mind of a “good mother” What does she look like? Dress like? Act like? How does she compare to how you evaluate yourself as a mother? Do you measure up or fall short?

Now think about where you got your idea of what a good mother is. Was it from the example your own mother set? From what you see your friends do? Maybe you got your idea from books, movies, or social media. How does thinking about this idea of the “good mother” make you feel?

So many women walk around with this idea of what a good mother is. The job qualifications are usually full of should-type thinking. A good mother should breastfeed, be happy to get up at night with her baby, love every minute of parenting, not miss her work/friends/life before baby. And when you don’t measure up, it’s pretty easy to start getting down on yourself.

I believe the myth of the “good mother” is actually a collection of myths through all the stages of parenting that starts even before you become a parent! I share some of these myths down below .

  1. Pregnancy: Good mothers find it easy to get pregnant, and her pregnancy is welcomed and planned, she glows and is full of joy as she waits for her little bundle.

  2. Labor and Delivery: A good mother believes that a natural delivery is the only way to go and the only thing that’s best for your baby, if she requires a c-section it means there is something wrong with her body and she has failed, once the baby has arrived she feels immediately bonded to her baby and an outpouring of love.

  3. Parenting: The good mother always put herself last and does it happily, she never loses her patience or expresses anger ESPECIALLY toward her infant, she focuses on all the gifts parenting brings and can’t identify any loss/grief experienced in parenthood, makes perfect Pinterest creations for every birthday/celebration and does it all without asking for help which is a sign of weakness, she experiences “Mom Guilt” which is normal/natural and is the mark of a good mom.


If these are the messages we are immersed in how do we shift our thinking about the good mother? Here are some helpful tips.

First: Stop the comparison game. When you are comparing yourself and your life to others you are often comparing your blooper reel to someone else’s highlight reel. Rarely are people posting their most raw, vulnerable, ugly moments on social media or sharing it at a backyard cookout. Stay away from situations that suck you in to this comparison pattern. I often suggest moms to take a social media break or “break up” with that competitive mom friend. Check in with yourself and ask if what you are doing or who you are doing it with makes you feel good. If it doesn’t, stop.

Second: Focus on what you have done/accomplished rather than what you haven’t. Having young children is hard. Some days even a shower is hard to come by. Instead of focusing on the sink full of dishes or the clean laundry that hasn’t been folded, take inventory of what you have done today. How many diapers have you changed, sippy cups have you filled, kisses and cuddles have you given, etc, etc, etc. If you stop and think about it you are working all day long accomplishing many tasks that are essential to your baby’s well being. Pay attention to what you are doing instead of what you aren’t and give yourself a pat on the back.

Third: Let go of “should” thinking. There are capital “S” shoulds and lowercase “s” shoulds. The uppercase ones are non-negotiable like brushing teeth and buckling your seat belt. The lowercase ones are typically based on unrealistic expectations and usually serve no purpose but to make you feel like you are not measuring up. Let. Them. Go.

Fourth: Stop trying to be perfect and strive to be “perfectly good”. Perfection is unattainable, but being perfectly good is certainly achievable. Lowering the bar does not mean admitting defeat, it’s just meeting yourself where you are and allowing yourself to be human. You have little eyes on you that are learning how to treat themselves by watching you. Extend some self-compassion when you miss the mark, and keep trying your best.

Hopefully this series has been helpful. Please feel free to share with whomever you feel may benefit from the information. If you attempt the four tips above and still struggle with the impact the myths of motherhood have on your emotionally, mentally, in relationships or otherwise please reach out to a mental health professional for help.



Myths of Motherhood: Part Three


Myth #3: Since breastfeeding is natural it should be easy!!

NO WAY! Breastfeeding is NOT easy. So many moms get caught by the idea that since breastfeeding is natural it should come….well, naturally. But the thing is, breastfeeding is a learned skill for both you and your baby! Both of you are new to this, it can be messy, uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful. When moms struggle they often feel like this is some sort of failure on their part, but I assure you it is not.

There are so many variables that that determine the level of success or struggle that comes with breastfeeding. First let’s account for the fact that your baby is a complete stranger to you. You (hopefully!) wouldn’t walk up to someone on the street and offer your breast to them, so why would it feel any less awkward to do it with this brand new little person in your life???

Second, unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of support readily available to a new breastfeeding mom. In the hospital it is often a labor and delivery nurse who supervises the first breastfeeding session. Then you move to the maternity ward where you have another new nurse, or multiple new nurses with shift changes. In my personal experience a lactation consultant didn’t visit me until the day after my daughter was born and she completely contradicted what I had been told by the nurses! If after you go home you need additional support you need to seek it out and find it for yourself. Talk about stressful when you’ve got scabby, leaky nipples dripping with milk and a crying hungry baby!

Third, the sense of urgency and duty that comes with breastfeeding can often set you up for failure. Although the benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable, I feel we have gone a little off the deep end with all the “Breast is Best” campaigns. When a mom struggles to (or just plain chooses to not) breastfeed, they can often feel like they are somehow shortchanging their baby. They often try to muscle through the process, which can really have a negative impact on their moods, creating an even more risky situation for both mom AND baby.

Finally, you can’t force your body to do something it just isn’t able to do. I am aware of a lactation consultant who had all the training and resources around breastfeeding at her fingertips and she just didn’t produce enough milk to sustain her baby. No amount of breastfeeding cookies, biscuits or teas can overcome this biological barrier for some and it is not a reflection of you as a mom. All it means is that breastfeeding wasn’t a fit for you by no fault of your own.

What I know for sure is having support is going to set you up for the best chance at success. Consider taking a breastfeeding class when you are pregnant, hiring a postpartum doula for after baby comes (many are well versed in breastfeeding, are breastfeeding educators or lactation consultants themselves), and be sure you have the names and numbers of local lactation consultants handy BEFORE you need them. And as always, if you are experiencing a significant amount of distress around breastfeeding or other issues please reach out for help. You can click here to contact me.