We need to get REAL on the Topic of Motherhood and the Culture of Secrecy.
Very early on in my experiences as a new mother, I realized that so much about the REAL-ness of motherhood stayed secret. Women don’t share their real experiences. Most new moms answer the “How are you doing?” question with statements about how much they love their new babies and how well they are doing, when in fact, they may not feel connected to their babies, and may truly not be okay emotionally.
So why is this the case?
Well, for starters, it is not culturally acceptable to answer that question with honesty. Most askers of the question wouldn’t know how to handle the real answer, and are expecting the socially appropriate answer, and new moms know that. So it perpetuates this needs for moms to conceal their truth. And it’s not OK.
For some new moms, the transition may be easier, and you may truly feel connected to your babies and feel emotionally okay. Everyone experiences the motherhood transition differently. But for those of you struggling and concealing your real truth, I am here to tell you that you are not alone, and that It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are just a few things that new moms need to talk about and probably want to talk about when they are asked how they are doing:
the grief that accompanies the motherhood transition
the profound and all-consuming identify shift that happens during pregnancy and postpartum
the physical and emotional scarring
the way your mood shifts so easily
the self-doubt that bubbles up during hard moments
the times where you wonder if you made the right choice
the sometimes not so great impact on your relationship
the deep sadness that you feel when you look at your postpartum body….
the shame and fear that swirls around it all
That is real.
We have to talk about our real experiences (with a safe audience), because that is the only way to challenge the current narrative about motherhood. The current narrative around motherhood teaches women that they must:
have it all together
feel connected to their babies immediately
love motherhood immediately
lose all their baby weight immediately
still continue to be great wives or partners immediately
function on little to no sleep (with a smile)
keep their emotions in check
return to work immediately
and it all better be done seamlessly
Like, WHAT the %&@#?
It’s ridiculous when you lay it out.
Many women feel that if they choose to prioritize themselves, their emotional/physical health, their relationships, or their careers… then they are bad moms. I’m here to tell you ladies, that you can take care of yourself and still be a good mom.
In fact, a healthy mother (emotionally, spiritually, physically) will serve your child much more than a woman who feels like she has to put herself totally aside because it’s what you’re “supposed to do” as a mom.
Getting real about your experiences with motherhood doesn’t make you a bad mother and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby.
In fact, being honest with yourself and freeing yourself of that shame that you carry is one of the best things you can do for your little one. Don’t carry that around with you. Find a safe audience, join a moms group, find a therapist who gets it, and give yourself the room to share your truth.
We owe it to ourselves, our babies, and to the next generation of women who deserve to step into motherhood from an empowered place. Let’s work to educate and support new moms, rather than perpetuate the culture that asks women to stop caring for themselves in the pursuit of motherhood.
It starts with us.
Dr. Alex is a passionate women’s health advocate and loves working with women on their journey to motherhood. If you are interested in learning more about her practice, or you are interested in setting up an appointment, click here to reach Dr. Alex today!