You see an interesting phenomenon in a baby group. Groups of smiling women, somehow managing to hold a conversation while keeping small objects out of tiny mouths, feeding a baby and getting it to sleep. They talk about their babies, their partners, the news – but never about how tired they are, how relentless life is, how sometimes they have a secret cry in the bathroom. One thing links so many of these women together and they don't even know it, because they struggle in silence. Here are the issues all moms are facing, but aren’t talking about.
Stay-at-home moms are more depressed and anxious.
Raising kids full-time raises unique, often-silent challenges. Mother's typically don't want to admit that being with their kids can be hard. These can include some difficult emotions, ranging from anger to sadness, which research has found it makes stay-at-home moms more likely to be depressed. North Carolina licensed counselor Erika Myers explained that one reason stay-at-home moms might feel more down than working moms is a lack of appreciation or a missing sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, working moms can list a set of tasks they conquered. Even if a stay-at-home mom has been busy the entire day, it's harder to get the same feeling of reward.
Another aspect of being a stay-at-home mom that might contribute to anger and depression is isolation. Working moms get to be “real” people with interests, skills and relationships outside of the home. A stay-at-home mom must work hard to maintain relationships that aren’t about being a mom, because that’s what her life is focused on. To combat some of these issues, it's important to make time for yourself. Talk with other adults, take yourself out on a date, and make a to-do list you can cross off each day.
Breastfeeding is difficult.
Everyone and their mother tell will say that breastfeeding is hands down the best decision you can make for your child. Breastfeeding does provide your baby with valuable and precise nutrients that no other milk on earth, even other women, can provide. However it can be surprisingly difficult to breastfeed, and does not come naturally to a lot of mothers. Many women struggle with getting their newborns to latch.
The reality is, historically, most women learned how to breastfeed through lots of help from other women. No one ever knows how to do it naturally. It can take multiple tries over weeks to master breastfeeding, and if you have to rely on formula or pumping until you can get your baby to latch, go ahead and make that choice. Don’t feel pressure to master it immediately. If you never do master it, that's OK too. Your child will still flourish and live a happy life.
Changes in weight.
Giving birth takes a huge toll on the body, and that can mean weight changes years after the child is born. Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with perfect bodies that snap right back into shape three days after having a baby. In fact, most of us aren’t. You may have stretch marks or extra skin. You may have scars and you may never lose that baby weight. All of these things you deem "imperfect" are the opposite, they are beautiful.
If you think about it, it is actually incredible what our bodies are capable of doing. You just grew an entire life inside of you. That is such a miraculous feat that you went through. Don’t get discouraged about the number on the scale or what you look like in the mirror. You made a miracle and grew a family.
Being afraid to ask dad for help.
While you’re worrying about how to take care of your newborn, don’t forget the other half of the equation. If dad is around, he should be doing his share to take care of his child. You should be taking turns with midnight feedings and fussings, and he should be respectful about the post-birth recovery time that new mom need before their bodies can return to normal. Remind him that he’s a parent too, if he’s not doing his fair share, and ask him to take on more household chores while you’re recovering so you can rest.
After being tired and so busy with all of your “mommy duties” it is easy to be hard on yourself. You start comparing yourself to others and feeling like you aren’t doing enough or aren’t the best mom you can be. Sometimes you can doubt your role as a mother and you may feel like you aren’t doing enough in society and for others. Stop being so hard on yourself, because you are doing plenty! You are doing enough. You are holding the future in your hands when you hold your children.
As a mom, each of us will encounter difficulties, challenges and doubts on a daily basis. Always remember at the end of the day, even if there are dishes in the sink and little handprints on the walls – you are so loved by your babies! To the world, you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.