Everyone has a unique experience in motherhood. Many people have a story in their mind of what the journey to and through motherhood will be like. This story is often based on what’s seen in the media, our own experiences with our families and friends as well as ideals we’ve established of our own.
Things often become difficult when the story in our mind doesn’t quite look like the actual experience. When the lived experience is a far cry from what we imagined, it can be hard to reconcile your hopes with your reality. There are some myths though that we hold on to that make things even harder. Let’s dispel some common myths of motherhood and normalize some real-life experiences that many birthing individuals have.
Six Common Myths of Motherhood
Every pregnancy is filled with joy and excitement
Not all pregnancies bring feelings of excitement. Even in pregnancies that were well planned for and desired, some people struggle with feeling joyful when it does happen. Additionally, how you feel about your pregnancy is not an indicator of whether or not you’ll be a good mother. It’s okay if the transition to becoming a mother of one or many brings mixed emotions. Growing a family can be both delightful and challenging.
Bonding with a baby is instant
The reality is that attachment and bonding can take time. It takes time for you to get to know your baby. Attachment forms as you respond to your baby’s needs in warm, sensitive, and consistent ways. This happens as you go about your daily routines with your baby while caring for and interacting with them.
Breastfeeding is “natural” and should come easy
Breastfeeding is also something that needs to be learned by both you and your baby. Breastfeeding is a natural process but does not always come naturally. Just because it may be desirable for you doesn’t mean that it will be possible. For some, it’s more challenging for a variety of reasons such as challenges with the baby’s latch or inadequate milk supply. Some important things to consider if you plan to breastfeed:
- Fed is best (as long as the baby is fed, you are doing a phenomenal job)
- Give yourself some grace as both you and baby learn how to do this
- Get lactation support to work through any challenges that may be getting in the way of success for you
- You can redefine what success looks like for you as many times as you need to on your breastfeeding journey
It’s also perfectly okay if breastfeeding isn’t something you desire.
As long as the baby is happy, that’s all that matters
This may very well be the most important myth to dismantle. This is such a common belief that a baby’s well-being is all that matters. The reality is that mom’s well-being matters also. Adjusting to life with a new baby can be overwhelming. Caring for yourself properly helps you form a more secure attachment with your baby and helps you to be a better caregiver and person overall.
Having a baby will bring me closer to my partner
This is indeed a tricky one. The reality is having a baby often puts a strain on relationships. In fact, research shows that marital dissatisfaction is at its lowest during the first year after a couple has had a child. Be sure to make intentional time to connect with your partner and nurture your relationship to maintain strong bonds with your partner.
You should just feel gratitude for being pregnant after a loss
While gratitude is something many women who are pregnant after a previous loss feel, they also feel a myriad of other emotions. The emotional journey of pregnancy after loss is complex. It’s common to feel gratitude, hope, fear, grief and joy. You’re not limited to a specific feeling. All feelings are allowed and they are all valid.
What would you add to the list of myths of motherhood? Please feel free to share this post with others.