Having a child changes everything. As a new mom, you expect to come home after delivery to more laundry, sleepless nights, and a whole lot of adjusting as you figure out your child’s personality and what works for your family. But, what many don’t expect is a loss of self.
In the midst of all the chaos and change and this little bundle of joy that requires so much of yourself, many moms lose sight of who they once were. They struggle with not fitting into their own skin—both physically and emotionally. They don’t recognize themselves in this new role. And for moms who may have decided to give up work and stay home with their child, they may feel a loss of purpose or fulfillment. It might seem silly. Why would you feel unfulfilled or without purpose when you have this little human that needs so much of you? The truth it is change, and change is hard, and this is a change in every part of life as you once knew it.
So what can a new mom do to regain that sense of self, to feel comfortable and confident again, and to accept who they are now? There are a few things. First, make sure you are taking some time for yourself. That might look different than it used to, and that is ok. Maybe it is going to the grocery store alone and enjoying the simple things again, or maybe it is a late night bath or a visit with friends. Embrace your new normal. Lean on your friends and family and get together outside of the house. Schedule coffee dates with a friend, or playdates where you can have an adult conversation and feel relief in knowing you are not alone.
If your friends are not in the same stage of life as you, then find a moms group. There are websites like meetup.com and groups through facebook.com that can connect you with moms and get-togethers in your area. There is strength in numbers and it really does take a village to raise a child. You aren’t expected to do it all on your own.
Learn to ask for help. It might be a struggle at first to ask for help because you feel like you should be able to do everything but chances are people want to help you. And, you will feel so much better if you can have some responsibilities off your shoulders. It could be as simple as asking a friend or family member to come over so you can take a shower, alone.
Reconnecting with an old hobby or interest can also help a new mom to regain their identity. You did have a life before you had a baby, and while it will never be the exact same again that does not mean you have to give up on everything. Whether it is an art project, writing in a journal, starting a blog, getting back into running or yoga, knitting, cooking, or music…whatever drove your fancy before, still can.
If you find you are struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, or unhealthy thoughts then seek out help from a professional counselor. Postpartum anxiety and depression are common and a counselor can help develop a plan to get you on a path to a healthier, more confident, and happy you with baby in tow.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: email@example.com.