Understanding the demands of motherhood can really cause a woman to rethink her new role. Some moms are faced with life-changing experiences not only for themselves but for their family. For this reason, new moms are often asked about their mental health during their post-partum doctor’s visit. In this MomViews segment, Kate Burrows, blogger at Mommyhood and Mental Health, shares her thoughts on how becoming a mother can really impact your everyday life.
MomViews: There are so many studies that highlight the impact of post-partum depression, yet there are probably double the cases showing how little is being done to help new moms. How was your transition into motherhood?
Kate Burrows: For the most part, I have transitioned into motherhood very well. I really do believe that I flourish as a mom, and a lot of my positive traits have developed and grown as a result. With all of that being said, I have struggled with anxiety more than I ever have in the last 8 months. I have fixated on breastmilk supply more than is probably normal. I still get anxious if I pump less than I typically do, or if milk is accidentally left out and goes bad. My biggest challenge has been dealing with my separation anxiety.
MV: Did you ever experience moments of frustration or the feeling of being overwhelmed with this new role?
KB: Definitely. To continue from the last question, dealing with the separation anxiety has been very overwhelming. As much as I like my work, it has been excruciating to be away from my son. I’ve been back to work part-time for about 7 months, and it hasn’t gotten much easier for me to leave him, especially on Monday mornings. There have been a few times when leaving him (or even the possibility of leaving him) has resulted in very overwhelming anxiety, so I have been working hard to manage my anxiety and take care of myself. As a therapist, helping my clients manage their own anxiety is something I do daily. It can be a lot harder to help myself.
MV: You added a rescue pup to your family prior to giving birth to your child. We also adopted a pup prior to having our firstborn and it has been a blessing. How has having a pup helped you deal with stress?
KB: Max has been incredible. He is usually a very calm presence, and typically tolerant when I want to snuggle if I’m having a hard time. He is also the best excuse to get outside and go for a walk, he would go for 10 walks a day if he could! Sometimes after Jack goes to bed and my husband is home, I’ll take Max out for a walk. Having the quiet alone time after a long day is so good for me to either reflect on things, practice mindfulness and just breathe. Plus, he is so gentle and patient with Jack. We really lucked out with our sweet pup.
MV: Do you have any new mom friends who call you for advice?
KB: Most of my friends and I have had our babies within a few months of each other, so it has been great to experience a lot of these firsts together. I’d say I’m the biggest advocate for breastfeeding, so a few friends have come to me with questions, or just to vent when going through a difficult stage. By no means at all do I consider myself an expert, but I appreciate being the person friends know they can come to. I have a friend who had her daughter 8 months before I had Jack, and she was my go to for anything pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding related. I am still so grateful for the support she gave me through everything. I hope I can be that person for anyone who needs it.
MV: What tips can you offer other moms who are feeling overwhelmed as a new mom?
KB: It is completely okay to feel overwhelmed. You’re not a bad mom for being overwhelmed, or for struggling with anything. It’s easier said than done, but try to take care of yourself! There is no shame in asking for help, either from your partner, friends, and family, or a professional. In fact, by asking for help when it’s needed, you’re making sure you can be the best mom possible, and you’re modeling a really great skill for your child (even if they won’t remember it, it still counts). You’ve got this!
Join me next week for another installment of MomViews, insights from moms like you.