Imagine a mom standing in a superhero pose: hands on hips, chest out, chin jutting up towards the sky. Chances are good that this is not how you feel every day. In fact, you may notice that you rarely feel this way. Why is it that motherhood — a status so desired — can often seem as challenging as it is wonderful? We can all too often feel overwhelmed and insecure.
What do veteran moms know that can help new moms feel reassured? Perhaps, instead of saying, “Congratulations on your new arrival,” we should say, “Welcome to the ranks of confident mothers. Here are our insider secrets.”
Give Yourself Pep Talks
The first few months, OK, years, of motherhood can be unsettling. Your little one needs you so completely, and is growing and changing so quickly, that simply keeping up is challenging. Expect motherhood to put you to the test. You are up for it. You can do this. Take excellent care of yourself and attend to all of your newborn’s needs. As you do, your baby will get off to a secure start in the world.
AFFIRMATION: I feel overwhelmed and that’s OK. This feeling will pass once I admit it to someone and keep carrying on.
With giving so much time to Baby, and very little time left for yourself and practical duties, appearances may slip a bit. So why not lower the stakes? Wear clothing that fits comfortably, even if it’s not as fashionable as usual. Get your hair cut in a way that won’t demand styling for a while. Appreciate your natural glow. Look forward to when you will get dressed up for the occasional date nights and socializing with friends. Simplify your needs and save time and energy.
AFFIRMATION: I look good enough to take care of this baby. I can let go of impressing the outside world temporarily and simply focus on meeting our needs.
Weave A Network Of Support
You need help from your pediatrician, partner, friends, family and perhaps even more if you are to keep your sanity while raising a child. You may think needing help is a sign of your deficiencies. But flip this thinking on its head. Creating a strong yet flexible network of supporters is your primary job as a new mother. Research resources at your disposal and do not hesitate to ask moms who live in your area what was helpful to them. Don’t stop until you create an extended team of support.
AFFIRMATION: There are ample services available in my area for pregnant women and new mothers if I seek them out. I can find all the resources I need.
Be Calmly Informed
If you suspect there is a problem with your baby, don’t wait for matters to worsen before you act. Call your pediatrician right away so you can determine if you need to take any steps. Illnesses can progress swiftly in infants, so pay attention to early signs before ending up in the emergency room at 3 a.m. Keep a bevy of parenting books within reach, and directly consult with intimate family and friends with trusted experience when something concerning comes up. Above all, trust your instincts.
AFFIRMATION: There is nothing wrong with asking questions. When I have a concern, the input of informed friends and professionals can quickly set my worst fears straight.
Stand Up For Yourself
Vulnerability is a common feeling among new moms. Chalk it up to all the changes going on in your life, plus fluctuating hormones. You may feel uncertain, confused, even lost sometimes. You may also find yourself on the receiving end of a barrage of advice, some of it unsolicited. Try not to get worked up about others who seem to know it all. They are usually well-meaning folks just trying to help. And if their help is having the opposite effect on you, politely let them know how you feel.
AFFIRMATION: When I am feeling shaky, and others make me feel worse, I can simply say, “I am not looking for any more input at this time, but thanks for trying to help.”
Keep Your Balance
A mother’s life is not typically full of long stretches of free time. Babies need a lot of attention and some sleep less than others. Also, if you have more than one child, finding alone time becomes tricky. Clever moms learn how to find rest and relaxation in the nooks and crannies of each day. They accept that a messier home than usual is totally understandable. They remember that their happiness deserves preserving as much as possible.
AFFIRMATION: When I take excellent care of myself I can go from overwhelmed to confident more easily. I value my own company, no matter how scarce, more than ever.