Written by: Amy Babiuch, MD, Senior Level Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
May is the month that we celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to shout out to all the members of the Momma Tribe! Being a member of this tribe is for warriors only because mothers are warriors. We are doing the work of the future every minute of every day. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun, but it does have its rewards. In our current society, being a mother is often viewed through a rose-colored lens, placing pressure on new moms who don’t know what to expect when they are expecting and also causing seasoned mothers to grapple with the highs and lows of parenting. Read on to see what we can all do to make the Momma Tribe a little more friendly and to create realistic expectations for a more loving and open culture of becoming a mother.
Most new mothers quickly realize that this job is a lot harder than they had ever thought. If you are a mother yourself, maybe you had a vision of what it would look like and how you would maintain your life. Maybe you envisioned looking gorgeous while providing for your new bundle of joy and delighting in the joys of motherhood, all while losing that extra baby weight.
The fact is, most new moms feel overwhelmed, lost, and exhausted after having their first child. Even with subsequent babies, these feelings creep in quietly. In the United States, at least 70% of new mothers experience at minimum the ‘baby blues,’ and rates of clinical post-partum depression are reported as 10-20%. Further, these numbers are likely underrepresented due to a lack of self-reporting by mothers. Why would moms not report their symptoms of depression? Simple. In our society, there is a remarkable amount of judgment passed on how new mothers reflect on their motherhood experience. The expectation is that they should say things like, “this baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” or “my life finally feels complete,” or “I love this, it’s what I’m made for.”
While there may be some truth to these thoughts, they certainly do not tell the whole story. As with any experience in life, there are ups and downs. As humans, our brains work hard to relate any new experience to some prior life event or experience. It’s a neuronal pathway that our brain relies on to create memories and connections. The difference with motherhood is that there simply are no other experiences that come close to comparison. New moms often find it hard to put the experience into words, having difficulty explaining how it feels to be a new mom to someone without children, and this may help to explain why.
Women have been bearing children since the beginning of time, in those days. However, it really did take a village. There were elders and other tribal mothers for help and support. These are luxuries that many new mothers don’t have, and those who do may find themselves feeling as if they should be able to “do it themselves.” So why the shift? Our society has changed. Families are no longer in one location, and they are scattered throughout the world. True community is hard to come by, and technological advances have made how we spend our free time and how we communicate with one another very different.
Further, with the advent of television came sitcoms, in which women were portrayed as housewives or working mothers who were able to do it all while wearing high heels and pearls. The nosy neighbor may have helped, but these women pulled it all together at the end of the day. Fast forward to social media, where only the most beautiful moments in time when things look perfect are captured and posted. Those moments, while beautiful, can be few and far between during the course of motherhood. When we compare our reality to these ingrained fantastical stories of motherhood, we begin to feel as if we are doing something wrong. This leads to shame and the dreaded beginnings of mom guilt.
What can we do to change this process and begin to defeat mom guilt once and for all? It’s not going to be easy, but here are a few things that women can do to begin making changes through how we connect with other mothers and how we welcome newbies into the Momma Tribe.
Encourage self-compassion. Remind all moms that some days are better than others and that we are all doing our best. We can’t control these small humans, but we can control how we react to their continuous stream of surprises. Celebrate yourself and other mothers in both the good times and the bad times.
Stop feeding the monster and start telling it like it is. When someone asks what motherhood is like, give it to them straight. It’s not all rainbows and daisies, and that’s completely acceptable.
Find acceptance for the messiness of motherhood in your parenting as well as others’. Yes, we can get a great photo for social media just before the baby spits up and our toddler pees his pants, but that moment is only a part of the reality that motherhood can be messy, but that can be part of the fun too!
Find community and welcome other moms into it. We are not meant to do this alone. No one is less of a mother if they have help and support. We need one another, plain and simple!
Simply choose to abandon mom guilt! It really can be that easy! Give yourself compassion, there is no right or wrong way to raise children, and judging others only leads to self-judgment and guilt.
Ask for help! If you or someone you know is feeling down or depressed, especially after recently having a child, get help. Baby blues, postpartum depression, and mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed about!
Most importantly, enjoy your children and take time for yourself, you deserve it!
Amy Babiuch, MD, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Amy Babiuch, MD is a practicing physician and transformational life coach who is passionate about the scientific and holistic aspects of medicine. She uses her experience, background, education, and knowledge to help clients find success to reach their greater potential and goals by completely rethinking what is possible for them.
She employs a unique approach focusing on the whole-person using innovative coaching techniques in conjunction with the scientific, holistic, and natural healing powers of our body and mind.
Among Dr. Babiuch’s deepest loves is spending time in one of the world’s blue zones, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, where she has created one-of-a-kind retreat experiences involving deep-dive, immersive coaching and adventure for personal transformation.