9 Myths New Moms Should Stop Believing ASAP
On top of the normal physical challenges of having a baby, new moms often believe myths that only add undue stress and guilt. Here are the top postpartum myths that you can chalk up as totally false.
If you’re depressed, your baby will be too
When postpartum depression (PPD) sets in, it’s hard for a new mother not to think about the toll her emotional upheaval is having on her baby. One myth that new moms suffering from PPD often believe is that her baby is suffering too. Amber Cohn, MD, FACOG, told Reader’s Digest the truth, saying, “PPD cannot be passed on to baby, but baby can see some effects from it.” She continued, “Breastfeeding is often decreased in women who have PPD and bonding between mother and baby can also be decreased if the mother is suffering from PPD.” Dr. Cohn added that this symbiotic relationship between mother and child can work positively as well, adding, “When a mother receives treatment for PPD, it can have a positive influence on her and her baby.” Here are ten silent signs you could have postpartum depression.
You’ll love your baby at first sight
Mothers spend nine months imagining the first moment they hold their child. You might imagine an instant connection, an undying love and devotion toward this little being you’ve been waiting so long to meet face to face. When that doesn’t happen, new moms often panic and assume something is wrong with them—or even worse—that they’re a bad mother for it. Not true, says Nikki Echabarne, a postpartum doula on the central coast of California that focuses solely on helping new mothers navigate the fourth trimester. “Many times mothers don’t end up having the birth they had hoped for and so processing their experience clouds their feelings for their baby.” She advises new mothers to be gentle with themselves, saying, “Give it time. As you learn about this new little one, process the immensity of giving birth, and allow yourself to learn what it means to be a mother, the love will come all on its own.” Here are some more things no one tells you about giving birth.
Breastfeeding will be easy
This myth is often the most damaging to new mothers, and can breed shame, guilt, and frustration that forever taints the memories of the first days and months after birth. While it is often touted as being natural and the best way to feed your baby, breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging experiences for a new mom—and painful to boot. Dr. Cohn was quick to put this myth to rest, saying, ” I think this is the biggest myth. Breastfeeding is natural and many assume it will be easy, but the reality is it can be very hard.” She explained, “The milk doesn’t truly come in until two to three days after having baby, so it can be frustrating and worrisome that baby isn’t getting the nutrition she needs the first few days.” Dr. Cohn addressed the common discomfort of breastfeeding, saying, “Nursing can be painful. Nipple cracking and mastitis (an infection of the breast) are some common, painful situations. Learning proper positioning of baby and using nipple creams (like lanolin) can help a lot.” She also recommends that new mothers seek breastfeeding assistance and education through prenatal and breastfeeding classes, often offered at hospitals. Find out what every new mom needs.
If you seek help for postpartum depression you’ll lose custody
For new mothers under the dark clouds of depression, thinking clearly or rationally is often difficult to do. Many fear that by seeking help for PPD they run the risk of losing custody of their children. This is simply unheard of, according to Dr. Cohn. “As an OB, I haven’t seen this situation. I am very glad when a patient comes in for PPD, or when this comes up during her post birth visit.” She admits that it can be an uncomfortable topic for mothers, saying, “Some patients don’t like talking about this, but there are some very effective treatments which make a huge difference in how the patient feels.” New mothers shouldn’t be so quick to assume that therapy with medication is not an option due to breastfeeding. “Counseling helps as well as medications such as Zoloft or Lexapro that are safe to use while breastfeeding,” said Dr. Cohn. “Some patients lose their perspective with depression and can’t enjoy being a mother to their baby. PPD can also cause strife in the patient’s relationship with her partner. Seeking help benefits not only the patient, but her baby and her family.” Learn about the ten unintentional mistakes parents make that could put a baby in danger.
Having a baby will fix your marriage
While the months leading up to adding a new baby to your relationship can be full of anticipation and excitement, it is not the answer to pre-existing relationship woes. In fact, the stress of having a new addition can exacerbate relationship problems. Echabarne is quick to debunk this myth, saying, “Babies won’t fix your marriage. Babies will make you very tired, and exhaustion will make it very hard to communicate.” She told Reader’s Digest, “I have told mothers to communicate everything. Every single little thing. Which is hard to do when you are tired. However, if you are able to communicate even that: ‘I am just so tired and I am not sure what to do right now,’ that comes out better than snapping and yelling at your partner. She recommends being honest, even if it feels vulnerable, explaining, “Let him or her know what you are struggling with and how the other can be of support, talk about what you’re afraid of and how magical and hard this new parenting thing is. Put it all out on the table so there is a basic level of understanding between the two of you.”
Your baby will never stop crying
It’s true that newborn babies cry often, it is their main form of communication, after all. While crying for long stretches of time can be normal (and ear piercing), it can also be a sign that something else could be going on. According to Echabarne, crying is part of every baby’s development. She explains, “Babies often go through a period of crying during the first few months. I refer parents to Dr. Ronald Barr’s website about the period of P.U.R.P.L.E. crying. This can help you to determine if your baby is going through a normal crying phase or if it is something that should be looked at by a doctor.” If your baby’s cries seem to indicate pain, or if you feel something is off, trust your instincts and call your baby’s physician. A visit to your pediatrician can identify the culprit, such as a food sensitivity or a growth spurt.
You’ll never shower or wear makeup again
We all know the stereotypical image of a new mother. She’s wearing spit-up stained pajamas, her hair is in a greasy top-knot, and her eyes bear the evidence of weeks of sleep deprivation. While this generalization might be true in those early days of motherhood, don’t believe the myth that you’ll never find your stride again. Like all new and significant life changes, motherhood takes some getting used to. Finding a new normal can be a long and exhausting process, but you’ll get there. Catherine O’Brien, MA, LMFT, a relationship therapist who specializes in helping families prepare for the transition from pregnancy to parenthood, told psychcentral.com that it’s imperative for women to recognize their own need for self-care in order to be the best mother possible for their child. “If you are tired and stressed out, honor yourself and take some time to ‘fill your cup’,” she advised. “Your time with your baby will be better for it.” While having the time to flat iron your hair or get a mani again might feel light-years away, simple changes can boost the way you feel about yourself. Making an effort to put on clean clothes (even if it’s another pair of yoga pants), and swiping on lipstick can go a long way to improve how you feel throughout your day. Learn about tricks to help new moms sneak in postpartum exercise (when you’re ready).
You should enjoy every moment
From the woman ahead of you in line at the grocery store to your mother-in-law, you’ve probably been told, “Enjoy every moment, it goes by so fast.” While every mother knows this to be true, it’s actually incredibly harmful to expect yourself to enjoy every moment of motherhood. Put simply, it’s not possible. Echabarne advises new moms to keep a realistic point of view, especially during the post birth period. “Mothers have sat with me and cried about their worries and fears, and it is normal. Your feelings are valid. You are exhausted during this time and you are healing from birth, in whatever way you experienced it.” She encourages moms to not allow their conflicting emotions to become self-judgment, It is all okay. You are not a bad mother.” Keeping a realistic perspective on your own abilities can make room for you to accept help when you need it, as well as provide a less stressful environment for your baby. You won’t enjoy every moment, and accepting that makes the ones you do enjoy, even sweeter.
You’ll be housebound
Life with a new baby is challenging, to say the least. Everything that used to take a few minutes now feels like an entire production, from getting ready for the day to finding time to complete housework. Leaving the house can feel like a feat worthy of an Olympic medal, and when you first enter life as a mother, it can seem impossible that you’ll ever leave your home again. The truth is that like anything else, practice makes perfect( or good enough). You’ll eventually learn exactly what you’ll need in the diaper bag and you’ll get a routine in place for running errands. It can be helpful to make a check list of the absolutely necessary items you’ll need when venturing out, and make sure your bag is always stocked with the bare necessities, like a change of clothes and diapers. It might not always go smoothly (hello diaper blow-out in the grocery store), but you’ll be able to handle it, because you’re a mom now. And moms can handle anything. Here are other superhuman strengths only moms have.