motherhood, Postpartum

Mom Guilt: Why it’s Bullsh*t and How to Give it the Middle Finger

When you bring up the term “mom guilt” women will open up about their story: Working mom guilt, stay at home mom guilt, single mom guilt, daycare guilt, household guilt.

There are so many things we can feel guilty about as new moms.

Today we’re talking more about this guilt. We’ll discuss where it comes from and how we can work to overcome mom guilt so that we can be more present and confident in motherhood.

Watch it:

Read it: The transcript

Hello and welcome back to that Taboo ABCs of Postpartum!

G is for guilt and we are talking about working mom guilt stay at home mom guilt, bottle feeding guilt, nursing guilt, introverted mom guilt extroverted mom guilt…
You guys, there are so many freaking ways to feel mom guilt.

Many New Moms Feel Guilt

Every single time I talk to a new mom, I hear the word guilty. I feel guilty that ______. Go ahead, fill in the blank for yourself. And then we’re going to talk about what to do with this guilt, why we have mom guilt, and how we can overcome it so that we can be more confident and connected in our own motherhood journey. Guilt takes an even bigger toll for many in the family situations during COVID.

For those of you tuning in for the first time, my name is Chelsea Skaggs, I am the founder of postpartum together where we work to help women overcome the pressure to be Pinterest perfect, and to find more confidence, connection and communication and just some freakin joy in their journey, I focus on working with women between three to 10-ish months after baby because listen, as the fog starts to lift, that’s when we have all of these feelings and thoughts and ideas, processing all the changes. And it’s the perfect time to figure out how we move forward as women as moms and all the things that make up our identity.

So today we’re talking about guilt and I want to share with you some of the things I have heard from my clients recently.

As a Mom, I feel guilty about:

-how I’m feeding my baby

– The way I birthed my baby

-Amount of time I do or don’t spend with my baby

– I feel guilty for not giving enough of myself to my partner

-Not being social enough

-Because my house isn’t cleaned

– For wanting any space to myself and to get away from my family.

All right, so if you’ve ever thought any of those thoughts, listen, you’re not alone. Because these are all things that I have heard from moms just like you recently.

 

 
Tips for getting rid of mom guilt

4 Ways to Get Rid of Mom Guilt

So let’s talk about four ways to get rid of mom guilt. Because sister it’s not looking good on you. Just kidding, I just want you to be feeling confident. I want you to feel like you are not behind, to feel like you don’t have to live in the world of shoulds and guilts. And I want you to feel that you can be connected and competent in your way of motherhood.

1. Teach your support people how you need to be affirmed and cared for.

Maybe it’s that you need someone to notice that the house is clean. Alright, we are going to have to teach our support people to say that or to acknowledge that if that is what makes us feel fulfilled and not feel guilty. Maybe it is that we are feeding in a different way than we expected to talk to your support people about how difficult that is for you. If it’s difficult if you’re feeling guilt, acknowledge it, talk about it and make a space to say hey, this is actually what I need to help me come back this guilt so we are teaching the people around us how to better support us because the chances are they want to support us.

2. Take a break from the things that make you feel shitty, and cause comparison.

This is often social media or magazines or that trashy ass reality show that you find yourself watching. If you are feeling this ongoing comparison it can sound many ways. Like you just can’t keep up with this person or she can do it so easily, or look how good she looks, her house looks, or her kids look then it’s causing you some stress and comparison. This then piles right into the feelings of guilt that you have because you’re shaming yourself and listen, you can step away, you can turn it off, you can take a break, you can mute whatever it is that you need to serve you so that you’re not drowning in this pile of guilt.

3. Honestly reflect on each day and celebrate one win when we are in the throes of postpartum

When the days are blurring together, we’re hardly getting a chance to shower. Whatever that looks like for you in those early days, it can be hard to feel like we have done enough or done good enough.

Maybe it’s when you’re returning to work or you’re getting into the stay at home rhythm or you are you know figuring out what you’re doing. Social life and friendship and relationships can be tough in this season. It’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough because again, that comparison game tells us that other people are doing it better, they’re doing it more, they’re doing it easier, like they are winning and we are losing. And that makes us feel guilt for not being good enough. So I want you to take time to reflect each day on one win that you’ve had. And listen, if you’ve had one win, that is a day worth celebrating.

4. Schedule five to 10 minutes a day to think or feel for yourself about yourself.

Do this so that you can be proactive in your brain, reminding yourself and affirming yourself. Know that you are not dictated by the comparison outside or by what other people think or what other people are doing, but spend that time with you.

Is the Mom Guilt Helpful?

Here’s the question I want to leave you with:
-What guilt am I carrying that isn’t helping me, my baby or my family?
-Next, how will I process that and let it go so that it doesn’t have a hold on me?
This takes work, intention and practice.

And if you’re looking for a safe space, to process out all the changes of postpartum to put tools and resources into place to have accountability to have connection we are here for it. Check out our next postpartum together small group offerings at postpartumtogether.com/groupcoaching and make sure that you subscribe to this channel (and blog) so that you can get the next videos in the taboo ABCs of postpartum series.

motherhood

Invisible Load of Motherhood During the Holidays

As a mom, you want to enjoy the holidays. You also want everyone else to enjoy the holidays and you feel responsible for making that happen. But there is this invisible load of motherhood lingering in the midst of the holiday cheer.

You:
-Do most of the planning.

-Find the perfect gifts for your children.

-Decorate the house for added joy.

-Outline the menu and coordinate the gatherings.

-Hide the gifts and wrap them during those scarce moments when the kids are asleep.

You carry the holiday invisible load and it can be heavy. 

This piece is written in conjunction with Zulily’s ode to Mrs. Claus. Read the open letter to moms this season and sign the change.org petition!

In 2020, you have additional factors of

  •  A world pandemic

  • Months of isolation

  • Modified activity options

  • Lack of childcare

  • Additional schooling responsibilities

  • Changed work culture.

**Let’s stop for a deep breath together because this is a lot.**

The text from grandparents and aunts come in:

What would Elizabeth like for Christmas?
Will we gather for the candle lightings each night or are we using Zoom to celebrate Kwanzaa?
Who will get together for the Thanksgiving feast?

When you’re already experiencing stress and anxiety, each text or phone call can feel like another layer bogging you down. If you feel overwhelmed from the holidays, it can be easy to lose the joy you want to experience.

The Pressure of “Supermom” During the Holidays

The holidays were meant to be a time of celebration, closeness, and laughter and for many moms, the pressure to be “Supermom” through the holidays is a breaking point. Supermom, this illusional character many moms hold in their minds, tells us that we are not doing enough. She tells us that we need to work harder. Do more. Produce more. She tells us that a holiday is not fulfilling for our children without crafts, decorations, gifts, meals, traditions, pictures, and themed-activities. Supermom tells us that we are responsible for doing and being all of this and carrying the checklist in our minds. She tells us that if we sleep or rest or take a moment to breathe, we are failing our children and families.

Related: Myths About Motherhood

How did we get the supermom illusion? How does it impact the invisible load of motherhood?

The Supermom is like a modern-day “Keeping up with the Joneses” story. It is not new and not new to moms, but the way we experience it is different and in many ways a strong force than before.

People “Kept up with the Joneses” by having a well-manicured yard and a nice car. You worked to maintain an image from the outside. It was a family affair.

Now, the super mom illusion requires you to go deeper, go inside, go public. The supermom illusion is present in movies and TV shows, on social media and mom blogs, and beyond. There are endless opportunities to compare, to judge yourself, and to think about MORE to do and be as a mom.
Here’s how we often experience it:

The Supermom Puzzle Theory:

Jane sees 5 different moms on social media today

-#1 is gifted in crafts and shares super-cute crafts she does with her kids
-#2 is an amazing cook and highlights her family meals
-#3 is a fitness expert and coordinates workouts with her toddlers
-#4 is great with organization and interior design and her house always looks like a magazine
-#5 is a make-up and style guru and always looks so put together

Jane, the one taking in these images and words, sees these moms and puts each together like pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle is the image of a “Supermom” that Jane sees and expects of herself. She does not realize in that moment that each mom is only highlighting one expert area of her life and does not show all the other aspects. Jane feels like she needs to be the culmination of all of these moms in order to be a “good mom.”

The Impact of The Invisible Load of Motherhood on Moms

During the holidays, the supermom becomes the mom who creates picture-perfect memories for her family. Many women take on this stress by worrying about creating a great holiday for her family. According to recent research conducted by Zulily, 74% of moms feel they do the majority of work and emotional support during the holidays. This research also indicated 88% of moms say their role in the family is primarily that of the “giver.” Another study, conducted by Mount Sinai South Nassau in 2019 showed that 46% of women polled indicated a high or very high level of holiday-induced anxiety. “Women under the age of 50, especially those who work outside the home, feel the most stress during the holidays and at home, levels that impact their mental and physical health.”

Read more:
An Open Letter to Moms Everywhere this Holiday Season (Zulily)

How to have a less-stressed holiday

Evaluate your true priorities

It can be easy to believe we “have” to do everything we see others do. We can take on responsibilities because others are doing it. Look at your task list and priorities and ask yourself: Am I doing this because it aligns with our family values or because I think I “should” do it to keep up with others? Once you look closely, you will be able to identify the tasks that can fall of the list and stick to the priorities that align with your values.

Communicate proactively

Do not wait until high-stress or emotional times to make decisions about the holidays. Talk with your family beforehand about plans and boundaries. Look at the tasks and experiences ahead of time and use your support team to help. Let others (your partner, family, etc.) know how they can be helpful with clear communication.

Related: Communication after baby

Form a team, not a pyramid

Remember, the holidays are a family affair and you do not have to be over everything. Take some of the pressure off of yourself and create a team with your partner and/or supports. Think about what you really enjoy and love and be over that- allow others to take the lead on other things. Do not pressure yourself to take on the invisible load of motherhood alone.

Create boundaries

You cannot do everything with everyone without losing your mind. No one can. Create boundaries around your time and energy. This looks different for everyone but evaluate your triggers and needs and let boundaries come from that. Do too many toys stress you out? Set boundaries around gift-giving. Are you someone who will stay up too late to do things that are not necessary? Create boundaries around your sleep and rest.

Related: Setting boundaries after baby

Start and end your day with a connection

Remember, the holidays are about connecting with others. We can get so caught up in tasks and plans that we miss opportunities to connect with those we love. Create a way to connect first thing in the morning and before bedtime in the evening. This could be reading a special story together, setting a timer for family snuggle time, sitting down for one meal a day together with no electronic interruption or another way your family enjoys connecting.

SIGN IT: Change.com Give Mrs. Claus the Credit She Deserves

Over the holidays remember this moms:

You do not have to deplete yourself to be a good mom.
We do not have to be stressed and overwhelmed to provide a good holiday.
You do not have to do this by yourself.

There is no reward for “Supermom” who did it all herself.

I know what can help you get through the holidays with more joy and less-stress. I’m bringing you connection, community, coaching and recognizing the really heavy invisible load you’re carrying.

motherhood, Postpartum

Alternatives to Tampons and Pads: Making the Switch to Better Period Products

The Truth about Periods, Pads, and Tampons

Do you remember that time the boys and girls were separated for a special series of middle school health class? There was awkward talk about sex, boobs and vaginas. I even remember talking about how friendships could change and hormonal girl fights. I remember hearing about how you would be wearing a tampon and/or pad to soak up the blood and how everyone has that one time blood gets through and creates an embarrassing moment. What I don’t remember anyone talking about is how standard brands of tampons and pads can be full of toxins, how uncomfortable they can be, how the fill up landfills and how there are actually other options. I did not learn about tampon alternatives.

To be fair, “other” options weren’t as prevalent at that time, but you’re in luck because now there are so many more options for how you treat your vagina well and honor the feminine time. Whether you despise or don’t mind your menstrual cycle, having a way to deal with it that feels good is important.

Related: Am I Ready for Sex After Giving Birth?


are pads and tampons full of toxic chemicals and are they safe to use

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links which means that at no extra cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a small commission from any purchases made on this page. Good news- we only recommend things we love to use ourselves and products/services that don’t suck. 

Why You Need to Ditch Most Pads and Tampons

Your vaginal walls are very permeable. This means that anything near them can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. While chemicals sprayed on cotton may not have a big impact on the tshirt you’re wearing, putting that cotton into you through your vagina runs greater risk. Having that cotton (and other elements we’ll discuss) resting on the vulva and opening of your vagina means that the toxins that are present in that pad or tampon have more access to your bloodstream and body.

Toxins Found to be Present in Pads and Tampons

Currently (August 2020) only the state of New York requires ingredients to be disclosed on packaging of period products. (Read about the recent bill signed by Governor Cuomo). Because tampons and pads are seen as “medical products” there is no regulation and no federal bill stating that ingredients must be disclosed. This is a problem when it comes to products that go inside or near your vagina. According to Women’s Voices for the Earth 2018 testing, “Previous testing of tampons and menstrual pads have found pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform.” This alone is an alarm to find a tampon alternative.

Let’s say you have your period from the ages of 13-53. That’s 40 years of periods and 12 periods a year. Let’s take out 3 years of no periods if you have 2 children. 40×12=480 -36 =444. Four hundred and forty four periods. Four hundred and forty four days of wearing something inside of you for 5(ish) days. That’s 2,220 days of products inside of you (or lining your vulva). With that frequency, it makes sense that you would want to protect and be mindful of what you’re using.

With chemicals, pesticides, dyes and sometimes fragrances compromising tampons and pads, that’s a lot of exposure. If you haven’t thought about this before, don’t beat yourself up or feel ashamed. We aren’t taught this in health class. Most of the time this isn’t mentioned to us by our PCP or OBGYN. There is a lack of education and support surrounding women’s reproductive health and in an ideal world we wouldn’t even have to think about whether the products made for our bodies are safe. You’re here now- hooray! It’s never too late to make positive changes.

Waste of Pads & Tampons

Not only are feminine hygiene products unregulated and containing potentially harmful chemicals, they create a lot of waste. I know, there are a lot of things that create a lot of waste, but this is one step each of us can take to cut down on our waste. Not only do the actual products create waste, but plastic tampon applicators and pad wrapping also creates waste (read more from National Geographic here).

Save Money with Tampon Alternatives

I like to keep things honest so I’m going to tell you truthfully- there are options that are going to be cheaper than your regular tampon and pad purchases (like using a reusable menstrual cup) and there are options that will be more expensive (like having 4-5 pairs of period underwear) so if price is the major factor for you, switching to a cup is going to be what saves you the most money.

Related: First Period After Baby

What to Use for Your Period Instead


do menstrual cups work


do thinx period underwear actually hold all your blood

Period Underwear as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Non-intrusive, nothing to change in and out all day, eco-friendly, reusable, prevents accidental leaks
Cons: Harder to have on hand for emergencies, More expensive

Menstrual Cup as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Cheapest option, eco-friendly, reusable, toxin-free silicone
Cons: Messy, Some believe it can cause TSS (though very unlikely, read more here)

Washable Pads as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Reusable, nothing in and out all day
Cons: Hard to stay in place, easy to leak

Related: Finding a Pelvic Floor Therapist and Why You Need One

Why I Choose Thinx for Period Care

Recently I upped my period game and made the switch to Thinx Period Panties. While I’ve been free of disposable period products for years now, this was a step from using mostly cups to now primarily using the underwear. First, I bought one pair to try them out. I noticed that the absorbance exceeded my expectations, they were comfortable to wear, I didn’t experience the “stink” throughout the day and didn’t feel gross and wet. My husband even commented on how cute they were. This is more than I can say for any other type of period product. ALSO while I haven’t personally had this experience, I’ve been told they are GREAT for postpartum bleeding once you graduate from the momma diapers!

As a previous cup user, I really enjoyed not needing to empty my cup, get blood on my hands, find a sink, etc., especially in public places. Along with how convenient and effective they are, I also feel great about supporting a company committed to eradicating the taboo of postpartum and providing effective solutions around the world. Have questions about using Thinx for your periods? You can find all my Q&As on my personal Instagram. Head to the profile highlights and find “Thinx!” and check back to the blog as we share more information about Thinx, periods, postpartum and more!

If you want to try Thinx for $10 off your order, you can find my favorite style and all the details here!


why should you switch to period underwear
Postpartum

The Quest to be More than a Mom

LOSING AND FINDING YOUR IDENTITY AS A MOM

“Mom” is an incredible title. It brings us new experiences, new love, new ways to see the world, and life. This brings out parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. It connects us to a bigger picture. Mom is a title we don’t take lightly because it is a privilege. But as women, there is more than mom.

mom looking at herself in the mirror feeling lost as a new mother

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

I’M A MOM, BUT WHO ELSE AM I?

Women can easily feel lost in this identity shift and wonder where the “woman” behind mom has gone.

An informal survey on my personal Instagram page showed that 92% of respondents said they struggle with the identity shift.

How Women Describe Identity as a Mom

Here’s what women responded when asked about their struggle of identity after becoming a mom:

  • I felt completely lost

  • I didn’t have a personal identity (as a new mom)

  • It felt like my sole purpose was to keep the tiny human alive

  • No clue who I am or what I like

  • I’m so isolated

  • Torn inside- it’s a tug of war

  • Grief over what was lost

  • Seemed like I didn’t matter anymore

  • Shame and curiosity about the difference in me

  • I am a mom…and not even a good enough one

There are different ways women can deal with this identity shift, I believe you can use this time of transition to be empowered, inspired, and become truer to yourself than ever. 

Dealing with Identity as a New Mom

You don’t have to bottle up resentment.
Don’t have to fully lose all aspects of yourself to be absorbed in the role of “mom.”
You don’t have to live in the pressure of what a “good” mom is and looks like. (Spoiler alert: A good mom looks like a mom being true to HERSELF in serving and loving herself and her family.)

RELATED: Things You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

REASONS WHY YOUR IDENTITY CAN SLIP AWAY AFTER BABY

There are numerous factors that contribute to the identity transition after the baby. These are things many women face, so don’t feel alone. The goal is not to AVOID these factors, but to acknowledge them, understand them, and when the time is right… move past them.

Brain Neuroplasticity

Your brain is literally rewiring itself. During pregnancy and postpartum, the brain’s neuroplasticity is in a great transition- very similar to adolescence. Dr Alexandra Sacks calls this time “Matrescence

Body

Loss of autonomy of your body mixed with a changed physical body that may feel foreign to you

Time

Being constantly needed by another person and lacking time for yourself, hobbies, friends, etc.

Finances

Budget changes, lack of maternity/paternity leave pay. Less money perhaps means less opportunities for “YOU” things

Emotions

Emotions are highly impacted by hormones and new and changing circumstances. In postpartum, hormones are fluctuating greatly and you are experiencing both new and changing circumstances. This flux of emotions can be exhausting and confusing.

Thoughts/Mental space

You may find your thoughts are taken up by mundane daily tasks mixed with how to do all of the new things to provide for a baby.

Relationships – Partner

The connection, communication, and relationship roles you knew pre-baby have shifted. Pair this with body image, lack of time, lack of sleep, and compounding stress, and a changed relationship can impact the identity of the new mom.

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Guide to Postpartum Sex

Relationships- Friends

Friends want to see/hold the baby, conversations are usually about kids, social experiences and expectations change, some friendships fade and new ones emerge leaving you wondering where you fit.

Purpose

Perhaps you have changes in your work situation leaving you feeling a lack of purpose outside of the home. You may have less time for hobbies/volunteering. While you may thrive on the purpose of taking care of a child, this isn’t the case for all women. You may also have a difficult time with it.

Outside Pressure

Our culture has an unspoken “Supermom” pressure you can feel from all sides. You may feel a loss of your own identity as you feel wrapped up in being the “right” kind of mom.

“I long for “old me” because we don’t know/understand who this changed “me” is yet.”

— POSTPARTUM TOGETHER PARTICIPANT

how do i find myself as a mom

TENSION BETWEEN THE “NEW” ME AND THE “OLD” ME

There are few times when so much of your identity and self transitions overnight like it does in the transition to motherhood. You know other women are facing it. You know there are a number of factors that contribute to this. There are also a number of ways it can manifest. You are frustrated that you don’t feel “at home” with yourself. It is confusing because you’re not even sure what you like anymore. You’re lost in the day to day shuffle.

WAYS IDENTITY FRUSTRATION MAY MANIFEST:

  • Bitterness/resentment towards a partner who seems to have fewer limitations and changes.
    Do you ever feel yourself welling up with bitterness? Are you playing out conversations in your head about how much your life has changed but your partner’s has not? Are you possibly feeling resentment towards the baby who has turned your whole world upside down? (I know, it feels unspeakable and so we are ashamed to admit this feeling, but honestly many women feel this way sometimes.)

  • Increased comparison to others
    Have you found yourself thinking “If I’m mom, why aren’t I THIS kind/good of mom”? Do you find yourself scrolling social media comparing yourself- your body, your daily habits, your house, etc.? Are you experiencing negative thoughts towards yourself and other women as a defense

  • Feeling apathetic
    Are you wondering why you can’t get excited about anything? Trying to figure out if it’s just the pure exhaustion of being a new mom or something else? Are you afraid to take a step because you’re not sure it’s the right one or if it’s really “you”?

  • Obsession with talking about/caring for the child(ren) Have you found yourself starting every conversation with talk of the baby? Do you quickly change the topic from you to the baby instead? Do you do extra things to busy yourself with caring for the child(ren) so that you aren’t leaving space and time for yourself? Are you in full immersion of “mom” because that’s the identity you know how to be right now?

    RELATED: Communicating With Your Partner After Baby
    RELATED: Relationships After Baby (Course)

Want to Feel More than Mom- You Are Not Alone

Chances are you’ve answered “YES” to some of these questions.
It is:
Nothing to be ashamed of.
Nothing to avoid.
Something to notice. Consider. Think through. Peel back the layers.

It’s a chance to recognize and commit some space to reclaim time and energy for YOU again.
An opportunity to not harness frustration and resentment, but to see it and “bless and release” to free yourself up from the heavy weight.
It’s a chance to be intentional about your postpartum space and transition and connect with other women in a similar space.

WAYS TO FIND YOUR IDENTITY AFTER BABY

Reconnecting with and reclaiming a personal identity after a baby looks different for everyone. Two worlds collide as you bring the YOU that you have been and introduce the role of mother. Every dynamic shifts. While you might feel alone in this, remember most women transitioning into motherhood feel it too. You aren’t alone.

If you’ve read my blog before or follow me on social media, you know that I don’t believe in “How-To” articles. I don’t believe in telling you that X, Y, or Z is going to fix what you’re facing. I don’t believe there are ANY one-size-fits-all methods to motherhood, marriage after baby or postpartum identity shifts. However, there are suggestions that you can try on for size. You may try one and it’s a good fit. You may try 3 or 4 before you find something that really feels right for you.

Here are ways you can try reconnecting with yourself after baby to find the “Me Beyond Baby.”

  • Daily self-check-in: This could be mentally, a white board, a check box on the fridge, a journal, etc. Think of a system that works for you to remind yourself to stop and do a mental and emotional check in through the chaos of the day.

  • Alarm for time just for yourself: Set an alarm on your phone for 2-4 times throughout the day. When it goes off, take a few moments to reconnect with yourself. Do something you enjoy (listen to a favorite song and dance, do some yoga stretches, read a page of a book)

  • Notes/talk to text/voice memos to yourself when driving or walking: Use your phone for good. “Write” yourself a letter via talk to text or voice memos. Make it a letter telling yourself about who you are, things you enjoy, goals you have

And a few more to keep you going….

  • Take purposeful time off of social media: Social media can be a bitch who whispers lies into your ear. Don’t let it overtake you. Take purposeful time away and replace it with something more life giving for yourself

  • GET OUT (And figure out where there’s childcare if needed!): Maybe this is work, maybe it’s a pottery group, maybe it’s a running group or workout class, maybe it’s another way to get out by yourself but JUST GET OUT and be part of the bigger world. Motherhood can be a bubble sometimes. (Note: I fully believe that for a few weeks after baby, you shouldn’t push yourself to get out. Recover and rest.)

  • Visualize yourself as a new “birthed” person and giving her space: With every baby born, so is a mother. Visualize your birth into motherhood with space to grieve what is gone and welcome what is new.

  • Tell your story: Your birth story. Your “this is how today is going” story. Whatever. Talk about it- don’t feel pressure to always be 100% supermom.

  • Leave “mommy” groups that make you feel like shit: Honestly, leave any space (online or in person) that makes you feel like shit.

Redefine Your Thinking to be More than Mom

Listen, sister. You might have to practice thinking. Yes, you’ve thought for your entire life, but with so much new, you need to give yourself space to practice thinking, feeling, experiencing. Try different approaches. Be graceful about imperfections.

The transition to motherhood can be lonely, but momma you’re not alone. The feelings you’re feeling- other women feel it too, even if it’s not talked about much.

If you’re a new(ish) mom or expecting, check out the Postpartum Together groups. These quarterly small groups provide a place for you to go into the raw, authentic and often taboo aspects of postpartum with the safety of a small group of women going through the same things.

find my identity as a mom
motherhood, Postpartum

What You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

Myths About Motherhood

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things say to a new mom that actually can end up being harmful.

stop saying to new moms pin.png

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Stop Being a Fixer

Women are fixers, right? So we love to find something encouraging to say- something to make things more rosey. More than that, we feel like we have to have something to say. This is why so many people want to find the right things to say to a new mom. The idea of just letting another woman sit in discomfort and uncertainty- it’s maddening. This is probably the reason why so many things get passed on to new moms that are not always true and often not helpful.

Intentions are good, the result isn’t always. These words of wisdom or encouragement are often taken as expectations and norms and when they don’t pan out, a new mom is left feeling defeated and often like she has done something wrong. Being a new mom is full of transitions and emotions. The last thing we need is for a new mom to feel defeated and like she has done something wrong… can we agree on that?

Sound Advice or Harmful Myths?

From my own experience, and the conversations with clients and friends, I’m breaking down 5 Unhelpful Things We Say to New Moms. I’ll share why these are unhelpful and even offer an alternative way to approach the topic.

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things we pass down to new moms that actually can end up being harmful.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: You Will Lose the Baby Weight from Breastfeeding

do you lose weight from breastfeeding

There’s no doubt about it, breastfeeding burns calories. Whether you’re directly nursing or pumping, your body is doing a lot of work preparing that food! However, breastfeeding is not the only factor when it comes to postpartum weight. Experiences are different for everyone. It’s truly unfair to tell someone to breastfeed to lose weight.

  1. It doesn’t work that way. There are a plethora of other factors that go into weight change in postpartum. Also, some bodies see the biggest change when they wean. Even Serena Williams discusses in this article how she didn’t lose weight until she weaned. This is not a reason TO breastfeed or TO STOP. The overall theme is that bodies are different: body composition, stress, hormones, sleep, genetics… they all play a part. If someone says breastfeeding melted their baby weight off, she’s probably neglecting to realize there were other factors at play.

  2. Even saying this deduces the role of both breastfeeding and postpartum recovery. Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for women who chose to do so, but there are reasons way beyond weight. Losing weight is also not the overall goal of postpartum recovery, just as a reminder.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: PMADs Only Show Up in the First Few Weeks

At your 4-8 week (average 6) postpartum checkup, you’ll most likely be given an Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. This will have a series of questions to screen you for Postpartum Depression. While this is a good resource and step, this cannot be our main indicator of needing help with postpartum mood disorders. First, there are a number of postpartum mood disorders that may not be caught by this screening. Secondly, symptoms present themselves in different ways and at different times than we often anticipate.

Postpartum Mood Disorders can be sadness, lack of motivation, wanting to stay in bed, etc., but that is just one picture. It may also be heightened anxiety, becoming OCD, birth trauma PTSD,  having bi-polar episodes, rage, and more. These things do not just happen in the first weeks. In fact, according to Americanpregnancy.org, symptoms can start to show as late a one full year after delivery.

Some women fear to acknowledge their postpartum symptoms thinking that treatment would require them to stop breastfeeding. There are some risks, but overall research has shown the benefits outweigh the risks. You can read more about this here.

postpartum depression and anxiety can show up a year after birth

Don’t Say to a New Mom: It’s Love at First Sight

“You’re just going to fall in love as soon as you see him!” This phrase, while rooted in good intentions, can be very damaging. After the challenges of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, a mom feels things she never has before. Her body, her mind, her emotions have all taken a wild ride. Perhaps she’s exhausted. Perhaps she’s facing trauma. Perhaps she’s not sure how to handle the way life just changed forever. Perhaps she’s coming off of meds and feeling foggy. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions she can’t describe.

Perhaps she doesn’t feel love at first sight. Perhaps she isn’t smitten and giddy. Maybe she, understandably and rightfully, feels any other emotion. What then? Guilt. She feels guilty because she was told that she’d have this instant overcoming of love and if she’s not feeling that right away, she feels like she has missed the mark as a mom right from the start.

She’s not a bad mom.
She hasn’t done anything wrong.
She does and will love this baby deeply… but it may not be her first thought and experience and we have to be there to show up for her in that.
(Momma- if you’ve been carrying guilt about this, let it gooooo. You have a reason for whatever feelings and thoughts you had in those moments, and they do not define you as a mother. Feeling instant love doesn’t make you a better mom than someone who takes some time to transition into it.)

RELATED: Where We Learn about Postpartum

Don’t say to a New Mom: Breastfeeding Won’t Hurt

Seriously. Why are people still saying this? Your nipples- skin, ducts, and tissue- usually aren’t pulled, chomped, sucked four hours a day. Breastfeeding turns that all upside down when a little human who can hardly see and has no practice, starts to pull milk out of those nipples multiple times a day. There is no other part of our body that goes relatively “unused” for years and then, in an instant, becomes arguably the most used part of the body. Anything with that drastic of change is probably going to hurt.

Hear me out- I’m not saying it should be longstanding, crippling pain. There is a good reason for lactation consultants and they can help you to improve the teamwork of you and your baby- but overall, you’re probably going to have some pain. When anyone says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, I wonder how they define hurt. My son was considered a “great” eater with no tongue tie or lip tie and learned a great latch, but for a while, I was still digging my toes into the carpet at the thought of feeding. I was lathering up the lanolin, coconut oil, and whatever cream I could get my hands on and yet my chest was raw and painful for weeks. Did it get better, yep! We got to the point where there wasn’t pain or anxiety involved but I would never tell a new mom it won’t hurt.

RELATED: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class (eCourse)

Don’t Say to a New Mom: A Baby is Great for Your Marriage

baby helps marriage-min.png

Marriage is tough. If you’ve been married for a few hours or more, you probably would agree. I love marriage but it’s the hardest thing I’ve done. I’ve heard people say that a baby will “Be great for your marriage” or “Bring you closer together.” Do you know what doesn’t really help something that’s rocky? An avalanche. I am head over heels for my kids, but I have no problem describing them as avalanches.

Kids come in and turn everything upside down. With them, they bring sleep-deprivation and high physical, mental and emotional needs. If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, a 2 am tiff over who is going to wash the sheets that have been shit and puked on probably isn’t going to turn things into roses.

There’s something incredible about seeing your partner turn into a parent. There are a lot of skills you learn in connecting in shorter time frames and being more creative about how to show your love. However, I would never prescribe a baby as a remedy for marriage woes. Improve as much of your relationship as you can before adding a baby in. Obviously, it’s never going to be perfect but again, don’t count on a baby to “fix” things. It’s both inaccurate and unfair.

Listening Ear Without Judgement Matters

Ladies, (I’m talking about the older generations and the current young moms) we owe it to one another to get real and gritty about motherhood- and to stand by one another in the awkward moments of uncertainty. Sometimes a fix isn’t the answer, but a listening ear without judgment is. If you don’t have something helpful to say, that’s okay. Just be there. No words are better than well-intentioned words that could set your friend up for failure.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

motherhood

Being a Heart Mom

DEAR HEART MOM: I KNOW THIS IS A ROLLER COASTER

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baby with tetralogy of fallot surgery

Sometimes you forget that anything big is looming in your future.

Sometimes you lay awake just trying to breath because it’s all you can think about.

Sometimes you see your child and know that she will overcome everything- beginning with the medical difficulties of her infancy.

Sometimes you see your child and just beg and plead that she’ll see next year and that you’ll see her grow up alongside her siblings.

Sometimes you read stories of victory over similar medical situations and you feel so invigorated for the life of conquering ahead.

Sometimes you see the face of a little one who didn’t make it and you crumble inside trying to feel those feelings in case they should ever become your reality.

It’s this ongoing mental and emotional roller coaster. It’s the torment of the mind. It’s trying to decide whether to cling close to every single moment or to try to shut off the deep rooted emotional ties in fear that it would cause any hurt to hurt more deeply.

You know when you got into a new relationship and it was a ton of fun and you soaked it all up… but then you realized you were getting very close and intimate and the fear of loss took over? Do you remember the tension of wanting to go all in and yet wanting to step back in case it didn’t work out? That’s the best metaphor I’ve come with to describe the period of waiting for big medical intervention for your ill child.

From the outside you wouldn’t have any idea that her body isn’t functioning like it should. From the outside she looks like the majority of babies you would see. But inside? Inside it’s a balancing act of time. Giving her enough time to grow to optimize a surgery but not giving it too much time- because if we did her body would suffer.

open heart surgery at 5 months old

Looking at our family from the outside you probably wouldn’t see that we are daily picturing our child on a medical table through a massive operation. From the outside you wouldn’t see the fear of a faulty move of the doctor’s hand or a sterilization procedure not being followed and welcoming infection. Yet these are the things I see every day. Sure, I see her smile and I hear her coo. I see the way she tracks us across a room. I see the signs of her hunger as she anticipates her next bottle. I see the way she warms her brother’s heart and calls out a new beauty in all of us. But in the stillness, usually, I also see the worst possibilities.

I’m not sure if this is “normal” anxiety or heightened anxiety. I really don’t care to label it and most of the time I have found it really powerful to experience it and talk about it with my husband and closest friends. But some days I wish it would go away. I know there is not one child or human who is exempt from something terrible happening… but when you have something so big in the future, something that seems so complex, something that will probably go just fine but if it doesn’t would be detrimental to your family, you think about it more often. You see it. It creeps up on you in the night when you’re snuggling. It causes you to lose sleep, to cry yourself into headaches and you have to fight for the ability to bring the energy you want to your day.

RELATED: Preventing PPD (eCourse)

heart warrior kids

To the families who are carrying heavy hearts over the wellness of a child- I see you. It may be evident from the outside or it may be hidden, but I see you. I see the way you pull your strength daily for your family. I see the way you balance going on as normal with being cautious. I see the way you tug back and forth between faith and fear. I see the way you celebrate other’s victories while also feeling the sting of others losses. I see you and I validate your feelings. They are raw and real and to many on the outside, they are scary and unsettling but they are yours and they are important.

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Oh and momma- if you’re feeling anxious and fearful- here’s an anxious-filled hug from me to you. I’m not sure if we were “chosen” for this or if this just brought out a new side of us, but we are in it together.

UPDATE: Our little Sage had her open heart surgery March, 2019. She did well and we spent a week recovering in the hospital. If you’re a heart mom and need to chat about it, drop me an email or DM on instagram. I feel you momma.

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story of a CHD baby with tetralogy of fallot doing well