Myths of Motherhood: Part Two


Last week I started a series on the “Myths of Motherhood”. We continue the series this week with myth #2

Myth #2: Bonding with a baby is instantaneous

Before I start first I want to ask you to Google the word “mother” and look up the images. What do you see? The majority of the images show beautiful, smiling, women, who are well dressed with their make-up on holding their newborn babies. Talk to just about any mother and they’ll tell you that the day their baby was born was the happiest day of their life and they felt instant love. I’m here to call “BS” on both!

The messages we receive communicate to us that these first days of motherhood should be blissful, and that as our babies are born the heavens part and angels descend showering us with a love greater than any other we’ve experienced. But the truth is, it’s very common and perfectly normal to feel the exact opposite, but many women are afraid to share their real feelings for fear of judgment from others.

The reality is that even though this baby is of you and your partner, they are still a complete STRANGER to you (and you to them!) It’s going to take time for you both to figure these new roles out. Not to mention the fact that you are doing it while you are bleeding, leaking, sore and sleep deprived. Especially with young infants, the relationship is very one-sided with parents giving, giving, giving and getting very little in return, it can be very difficult to feel connected.

So what do you do when you have a baby and you just aren’t quite feeling the love yet? The first thing is to give it time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way and just let it develop naturally. If however in additional to the lack of bonding you are noticing other things happening like excessive crying, sadness, irritability, sleep or appetite changes, a lack of interest or pleasure in things, or just plain not feeling like yourself you may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like postpartum depression. This requires additional support and attention from a medical or counseling professional (or both!). If you or someone you know are experiencing these symptoms it is important to reach out. Feel free to connect with me if you have any additional questions or comments related to this topic, and stay tuned for Myth #3 next week!

Blog Series: Myths of Motherhood


Today I’m starting a five part blog series on the “Myths of Motherhood”. So many of my clients walk into sessions with a number of “shoulds” on their mind. This pattern of thinking tells them what a good mother should feel, say and do. These shoulds tell them how motherhood is supposed to be. The problem is that most of the time these ideas are unrealistic and based on their own distorted or unhelpful patterns of thinking. As a famous therapist Albert Ellis once said….Stop shoulding on yourself!! As you can imagine, it can make a real mess emotionally, behaviorally and relationally.

My goal with this series is to debunk some of these myths of motherhood to help you rethink the expectations you may be placing on yourself, help you realize you are not alone, drop the shoulds and maybe even extend a little self-compassion your way.

Myth #1: Every pregnancy is expected, wanted, excitement is the only acceptable emotion

Nope, they are not! In fact, the national average of unplanned pregnancies floats around 50%. That just goes to show you there are plenty of surprise babies walking around our streets every day (you might even be one of them!). The fact that a pregnancy was unplanned or even initially unwanted is NOT an indicator of whether or not you’ll be a good mother.

The thing is whether planned or not, pregnancies come with a ton of change, transition, loss and even grief. YES!  The “happiest time of your life” can include feelings of grief around the loss of your body, identity, freedom, spousal connection, work identity, finances, sex life, sense of self and SO MUCH MORE! Pregnancy can be delightful, or it can be really challenging. Just because you don’t love every minute (or ANY minute) of it does not make you a bad mom. This can be ESPECIALLY hard to accept for women who worked really hard to become pregnant. They often carry a sense that they should be grateful for every hemorrhoid and vericose vein that accompanies their pregnancy. I’m here to tell you….there AIN’T NOBODY WHO IS GRATEFUL FOR HEMORRHOIDS!

What’s really troubling is that we don’t get this kind of messaging as moms. The expectation by society, family, friends, and the media is the opposite. Images of happy, glowing moms flood our social media or Pinterest feeds. People ask leading questions like, “Aren’t you so excited?" or “Don’t you love being pregnant?”, with certain expectations for a happy, upbeat answer. You are frequently asked how you’re feeling but rarely is anyone is asking about your mental or emotional health. This puts a lot of pressure on moms to “perform”, often not being fully honest about how they are really feeling.

If you’ve ever watched “Sex and the City”, you might remember the episode where the character Miranda “fakes” her sonogram. When she finds out she’s having a boy the technician reacts with jubilation and expects Miranda to do the same. She follows suit, even though it’s not how she really feels. I’m sure anyone who has been pregnant before can identify with this pressure to be, or feel, or do to some extent.

Hopefully the acknowledgement of this idea as a myth allows you to be able to release the expectations and “shoulds” you are holding yourself to. If you find this difficult, or if your thoughts around this idea are interfering with your ability to function, you may benefit from getting some professional support on how to change this way of thinking. Feel free to reach out to me on my contact page for more information or support. Stay tuned for Myth #2 next week!!