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The top 10 myths about the mental health of new moms

2. “I can’t take any medication until I’m no longer pregnant/nursing.”

The top 10 myths about the mental health of new moms

You know the saying, “You can never have too much of a good thing?” Yeah, I’m not a fan of that one, because too much of pretty much anything isn’t good. And as a new or expectant mom, this is particularly true when it comes to information.


It’s so easy to get so much info about everything. A quick Google search or a post in one of your online moms’ groups will yield a seemingly endless number of answers about anything you could possibly wonder about.

And while that’s great for many things—heartburn remedies during your third trimester, the best stroller to buy, what malls have family restrooms— it can also make it very difficult to separate the good information from the bad. And when bad information circulates without correction, some potentially harmful myths can seem to turn into facts.

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Here are some of the most damaging myths about mental health and new motherhood, and the actual facts behind them:

1. “It’s just the baby blues.”

The baby blues are a real thing. It is estimated that around 70-80% of new moms experience some feelings of sadness in the days immediately following birth. While no one is sure of exactly what causes this, it is likely a combination of hormones —you’ve got a LOT of them swimming around in your body as you recover from pregnancy and delivery—and situational factors like poor sleep, uncertainty about caring for a newborn, and adjusting to life with a tiny boss who doesn’t care what time of day or night it is.

If this is so common, how do you know if it’s actually a problem? The key is timing. The baby blues are very time limited. This means the feelings of sadness, or crying out of seemingly nowhere, come and go throughout the day and do not last for more than a few hours total per day. Additionally, the baby blues do not last beyond 10 to 14 days postpartum.

So, if you’re still in a funk and baby is more than 2 weeks old, or you’re spending most of your day feeling depressed, it’s not just the baby blues and you should call your OB/midwife or therapist to discuss the possibility of a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder. And don’t worry, I know that sounds scary but it’s very treatable once you reach out for help.

2. “I can’t take any medication until I’m no longer pregnant/nursing.”

Before I jump in on this one, let me just cut straight to the point: false. There are medications out there that are safe for your baby, and a medical provider who is experienced in this area can help you find the right one.

Being pregnant or nursing does not mean you need to suffer unnecessarily with anxiety or depression, if medication can help. Now, this does not mean that you’ll always want to jump straight to meds, as there are other things to try such as talk therapy, lifestyle changes and exercise. But in cases where medication is needed, there are options. And let’s be honest here, 30 minutes of exercise and eight hours of sleep per night are pretty tough to come by as a new mom. So if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask about medication.

3. “I don’t need sleep; I’ll just drink more coffee.”

Sleep tends to go out the window once baby arrives, and you do need to adjust your expectations around how much uninterrupted nighttime sleep you will be getting for a while. However, the solution is not just to muscle through with the help of undereye concealer and caffeine. Sleep deprivation can make postpartum mood and anxiety disorders much worse, so you need to find a strategy to log a few more hours per night.

The solution will depend largely on how baby is being fed. For babies that are formula fed, many new moms find that having their partner take over one or two nights a week while they sleep somewhere where they will not be disturbed can go a long way toward improving their mental health.

If baby is breastfed, this isn’t as feasible, even with pumped bottles, because you need to nurse overnight to prevent engorgement and protect your supply. However, you can split the nighttime duties with your partner so that you are only responsible for the nursing part. Your partner can handle changing baby’s diaper, bringing baby to you, then burping and resettling baby. This will minimize how long, and how fully, you’re awake.

Whatever arrangement you need to work out, the underlying message is that your sleep is vitally important to your mental health. Napping when baby naps during the day is great, but our bodies need restorative nighttime sleep to function. Keep the concealer and coffee handy, because you’re not going to be feeling too perky for a while, but make nighttime sleep a priority too.

4. “I’m just angry.”

There are a lot of annoying things that happen in the life of a new mom—the baby’s diaper explodes right before you need to leave for an appointment, sleep was particularly awful the night before you’re finally going out to breakfast with the friend you haven’t seen in months, or your partner sneezes just as you’ve finally gotten baby to fall back to sleep. While these things seem minor in isolation, combine them with some hormones, lack of sleep and general overwhelm, and you’re primed for a frustrated outburst.

However, if you’re finding yourself getting annoyed at every minor thing, or what would normally just annoy you leads you to lash out or fills you with rage, something more could be going on.

Anger is a common symptom of postpartum anxiety (PPA). I know it seems odd because when you think about anxiety, you don’t typically think of anger, but they actually go hand in hand quite commonly.

For some new moms, anger is their only symptom of PPA. If your anger is feeling disproportionate, or unsettling, reach out to your provider for an assessment.

5. “Only moms get postpartum depression.”

New research is shedding light on something many of us have experienced: our partners can struggle emotionally after birth. Anxiety, irritability, withdrawal from relationships—these are all common signs of postpartum mood disturbances in our partners. While they do not have the same hormonal influences as a newly postpartum birth mother, they are experiencing some degree of sleep deprivation, tension in your romantic relationship, and grappling with what it means to be a parent.

Your partner may be confronting the reality of having a baby for the first time. Remember, you had 40 weeks to bond with your baby before they were born. Your partner simply did not have that prep time, so this can be quite a shock to them. Just like you, your partner will benefit from professional help if they are struggling beyond those first few weeks.

6. “I had postpartum depression once, so I’m definitely going to get it again.”

Not necessarily. Yes, previous postpartum mood and anxiety disorders put you at higher risk of experiencing them again. However, now that you know ahead of time that you’re at risk, you can begin to plan and put support in place. There may be medication you can start towards the end of your pregnancy, or you may choose to begin right after delivery if it was helpful to you previously.

You’ll also want to make sure your village is alerted and prepared—meals are lined up, visitors are scheduled to keep you company, and overnight help is arranged so you can get some much-needed rest. All of these things will be huge in helping set you up for a better experience the next time around.

7. “There’s no way to predict who will struggle postpartum.”

I so wish there was a Magic 8 Ball that could tell us who would and would not suffer from a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). However, we do have a great deal of research that points us toward some risk factors:

  • A traumatic birth or pregnancy
  • Depression during pregnancy
  • Strained marriage/partnership
  • History of abuse or trauma
  • Lack of social support
  • History of prior depression or anxiety
  • Recent stressful or traumatic events, unrelated to pregnancy/childbirth
  • A history of postpartum anxiety or depression

Now, this is not to say that if you’re nodding along to all of these you are guaranteed a PMAD, nor is it to say that if you have none of the risk factors, you have nothing to worry about. But knowing how many of these things apply to you can be super helpful in giving you a heads up about things to keep an eye on.

I always encourage women who have any of these risk factors to really take postpartum planning seriously and make sure that they line up as much help and support as possible. This can be a tremendous asset in preventing the occurrence of a PMAD as well as limiting its severity should it occur.

8. “If my doctor says I’m fine, I must just be overreacting.”

If you feel something is off, never ignore that instinct. If you feel you are suffering more than you should, ask for help. If you think your doctor isn’t taking you seriously, go to a different doctor or therapist. If you’re having trouble speaking up for yourself, ask a friend or family member to come with to help advocate for you. No one knows your inner experience better than you do, and there is no reason for you to muscle through postpartum struggles.

So yes, your doctor knows best about what medications are safe, and what physical symptoms are concerning. But you know your inner self better than anyone else. So do not take a doctor’s dismissal as the definitive answer if something feels off to you.

9. “They’ll take my baby away if I ask for help.”

Every now and then a story goes viral about a mom having her baby taken away due to reaching out for help with postpartum depression. This generally leads to panic among other moms who had been contemplating asking for help. While I wish I could guarantee that this won’t happen, what I can tell you is that it is very rare and is generally the result of a miscommunication or a poorly trained medical provider.

If you’re worried about being judged or the consequences of reaching out for help, I recommend two things: choose the provider you are most comfortable with and bring support. First, choosing a provider you feel comfortable with is essential. Your midwife/OB, primary care physician or therapist are all great people to reach out to and any one of them can help you take the first steps in getting help. I also recommend bringing someone along with you, particularly if you fear you may have a hard time talking about what’s been going on. You don’t have to do this alone!

10. “If I wait, it will just go away on its own.”

For so many things new moms worry about with their babies, my response is usually, “Give it time.” Baby won’t sleep anywhere but in your arms? Give it time. Baby can’t occupy herself for 30 seconds while you pee? Give it time. Baby seems totally uninterested in solids? Give it time.

But when it comes to your mental health, the wait and see approach is definitely NOT recommended.

Yes, the baby blues will resolve on its own in 10-14 days, but anything beyond that is unlikely to just go away quickly enough to not cause you significant distress in the meantime. The stressors associated with a newborn (sleep deprivation, social isolation, physical pain, etc.) will lessen over time which can be helpful, but true postpartum mood and anxiety disorders will not just disappear overnight.

Waiting it out can cause things to worsen and can have a negative impact on your relationship with your baby. So, if baby is older than two weeks, and you’re struggling, it’s time to reach out for help. It’s okay to ask for help. I promise.

These are just a small handful of the rumors and myths out there about mental health, particularly as it relates to mothers. But there are plenty more out there! If you hear something that doesn’t sound right, or have questions about whether or not what you’re experiencing is typical or a sign of something more, reach out to whatever healthcare provider you feel most comfortable with. You’re never bothering them—that’s what they’re there for!

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

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Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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