I Love My Baby, But…
As new mothers, most of us know to prepare for sleepless nights, bouts of crying, and mounds of laundry that seem insurmountable. But no one tells us that we might feel sad, anxious, seriously overwhelmed, or even regretful. And more importantly, no one tells us that we are not alone in feeling these emotions and that it is ok if we are not in baby bliss!
“I love my baby, but…I just don’t feel like we have bonded!”
Bonding does not happen immediately for many new mothers. It is a work in progress! Taking care of baby’s basic needs is your top priority. Bonding can come later and develop over time. In the meantime, getting plenty of snuggle time with your little one can help you both feel more secure. And if you are able to, breastfeed your little one, which is not only healthy for your baby’s development, but also for your bonding.
“I love my baby, but…I don’t think I can handle the stress!”
We’ve all been there! The stress of taking care of a new baby on top of everything else you were doing before your little one kept you up most of the night can be overwhelming. Taking care of your own needs is essential to managing the stress. Take a “mommy time out” when you need it. Know your limits and seek the support of others. Get some exercise and cut yourself some slack. Motherhood is hard work! Sometimes deep breaths, long stretches, or even a bath is all you need to recalibrate.
“I love my baby, but…why do I feel so sad and depressed? Shouldn’t I be enjoying this time with my baby?”
The “baby blues” can take many mothers by surprise. No one expects to be sad after the birth of their baby. And for some women, this sadness can turn into more serious depression. Recognize that the “baby blues” is normal and connect with other new moms for support. If sadness and other symptoms persist, are getting worse, or are interfering with your ability to care for your baby or yourself, it’s time to seek the assistance of a professional.
“I love my baby, but…I feel like my baby is ruining my marriage!”
The addition of a baby means there is less time for you to spend with your husband. Naturally, he will have moments of feeling left out and even jealousy. It is important to make time for him too. Enlist the help of a babysitter/family member to watch your little one and schedule a date night once or twice a month. Also, remember that this baby thing is new for him too, and he may be feeling some of the same emotions you are feeling. In a few months, when you find your groove and get into a routine, life with baby and husband will become the new normal.
“I love my baby, but…I am so worried about her development that it’s hard to enjoy time with her!”
Postpartum anxiety can really get in the way of new motherhood! Seasoned mothers may brush you off, telling you that the worrying is just beginning and that you should get used to it. Others might tell you to “just relax,” or “stop worrying and enjoy your little one.” These comments may be well-meaning but are certainly not helpful. Understanding your fears and worries, and replacing anxious thoughts with rational ones can be helpful, but it takes lots of practice. If your worries are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to care for yourself or your baby, seek the help of a professional to help you with coping strategies.
“I love my baby, but…he has ruined my social life!”
Going out is just more complicated once you have a little one around. The planning, the scheduling, the energy, the time, the guilt – sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth the effort! However, having adult time, time away from your baby, and time to be “off-duty” is essential to keeping yourself mentally healthy, balanced, and ready to face any challenges that may come your way. Try to make friends with other moms too. They will be interested in going for a walk or to a park, which is healthy for both you and your baby. Also, they will be more understanding of scheduling delays, baby sitter check-ins, and a stained shirt.
The pressure new mothers face from society can be formidable. We are expected to “do it all” and often feel judged (by friends, in-laws, etc.) when we fall short. On top of this, many mothers feel inept and disheartened when parenthood turns out to be different from the fantasy. Regardless of the stage of motherhood, new and seasoned mothers alike can experience a range of emotional responses to their duties. When these emotions differ from our expectations of motherhood, and when the emotions become overwhelming, it may be time to reach out for help. Make sure to connect with Dr. Lauren Goldstein at www.ihelpmoms.com!
Dr. Lauren Goldstein is a Licensed Psychologist and Certified Happiest Baby Educator. She specializes in working with parents and young children, providing individual and family psychotherapy, as well as developmental, psychological, and educational evaluations, including gifted testing, testing for ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities, and evaluations for general psychological functioning. For more information visit www.drlaurengoldstein.com and www.facebook.com/southfloridapsychologist, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.