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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!

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Things We're Loving

It was s historical moment for the word and a scary moment for a woman who had just become a mother for the first time.

When the Duchess of Cambridge made stepped out of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013, with her new baby in her arms she was happy—but understandably scared, too.

Kate Middleton recently appeared on Giovanna Fletcher's Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast and when Fletcher asked her about her postpartum debut Kate said she was understandably freaked out when she stepped out with her newborn.

"Yeah, slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I'm not going to lie," Kate said.

During the podcast the Duchess opened up about her pregnancy and birth experiences, explaining how much hypnobirthing helped her and that she didn't know whether she was delivering prince or princess until Prince George was born as she'd opted to be surprised.

She was surprised and thrilled when she met her son, and looking forward to post-pregnancy life after spending her pregnancy quite ill with hyperemesis gravidarum (a seriously debilitating form of extreme morning sickness). She was so happy, but it was also (very understandably) an overwhelming experience. In addition to all the pressure new moms feel, Kate had an army of photographers waiting outside the hospital for her.

"Everything goes in a bit of a blur. I think, yeah I did stay in hospital overnight, I remember it was one of the hottest days and night with huge thunderstorms so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep, but George did, which was really great," she explained. "I was keen to get home because, for me, being in hospital, I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick [with acute morning sickness] so it wasn't a place I wanted to hang around in. So, I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality."

Kate wanted to get home, but she also really did want to share her baby boy with the public who had been so supportive of her young family, she explains.

"Everyone had been so supportive and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and you know we're hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us, and actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important," she shared, adding that "Equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions."

"All sorts of mixed emotions."

The now-iconic images of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge exiting the hospital with their firstborn have gone down in history, but so has Kate's bravery that day.

There's been a lot written about whether those pictures put pressure on other moms who might not feel ready for heels and blowouts right after giving birth, but one thing critics of the photocall often miss is the positive impact it had on other young women.

Yes, Kate looked beautiful, but she also looked like a woman whose body had just given birth—and the iconic images of her in that polka-dot dress taught a generation of women that the female body isn't an elastic band and that recovering from birth takes time.

"I, myself remember being really surprised when Kate Middleton came out of the hospital holding Prince George," Tina, now a mom herself and a model of postpartum realness in Mothercare's "Body Proud Mums campaign" explained last year.

Tina recalls how Kate's postpartum appearance showed her a reality society hadn't: "She had the baby bump, and I remember being surprised that your belly doesn't just go down after giving birth. I also thought how stupid I was to have ever thought it would. I guess pre-children you just have unrealistic expectations."

Tina wasn't stupid, she just hadn't been shown the truth.

So thank you, Kate, for stepping out of that hospital in 2013, despite being terrified, and showing the world your beautiful baby and your bump.



News

Despite the encouraging growth of free or subsidized preschools in some American cities, the fact remains that preschool and daycare cost about as much as rent in many areas.

But there's some good news, which is that parents who pay for preschool or daycare while they're at work may qualify for a credit that can help you save money on taxes this year. Here's what all parents should know before filing their returns.

Is preschool tuition tax-deductible?

The sum of your child's entire preschool tuition is not tax deductible, but you may be able to get something better than a deduction: a credit called the Child and Dependent Care Credit, worth up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more kids.

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How do I know if I'm eligible for the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit?

There are a few criteria to be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

  • If you have someone take care of your child so you can work or look for work
  • Your child is under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year (no age limit if they are disabled)
  • You must be able to claim your child as a dependent
  • Your filing status must be single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a qualifying child, or married filing jointly.

Does preschool tuition count as dependent care?

Yes, it does count if you are paying someone to take care of your child so you can work or look for work. Day camps, such as summer camps and sports camps, count as well, but overnight camps don't.

How much could I potentially get back on taxes for preschool tuition?

If you are able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may be able to claim up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more children.

The great thing about credits is they are a dollar for dollar reduction of your taxes. So if you owe taxes of $1,050 and have one child, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 and wipe out the taxes you owe.

The credit is based on a sliding scale: Depending on your income, your credit is 20%-35% of your childcare expenses up to $3,000 (or $1,050), and 20%-35% of childcare expenses up to $6,000 (or $2,100) for two or more kids.

The bottom line: While this tax credit is unlikely to completely cover your child's preschool tuition for the year, don't miss out on this tax credit if you're paying for preschool or daycare for your child so that you can work. And remember to check your eligibility for other tax credits and deductions for families, including the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit.
Work + Money

Celestial baby names are flying high right now, and the brightest star of them all? Well, it's actually Luna, the name of the Roman goddess of the moon, and the Latin word for "moon."

At #23 in the US in 2019, Luna's rise has been, well, astronomical ever since it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2003, for the first time in almost a century. That was the year that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was first published, featuring the kooky but courageous Luna Lovegood.

The once-unique baby name has since been picked up by stylish celebrity parents such as Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and John Legend, and now ranks in the Top 100 in at least 18 other countries, including Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Slovenia.

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But if Luna's meteoric rise to the top of the baby name popularity charts puts you off, here are 100 more magical, moon-inspired baby names to consider.

Baby names that mean moon

Girls' names that mean "moon" include a multitude of attractive Turkish names containing the element ay, meaning (you guessed it!) "moon." These range from rising international star Ayla to popular picks like Miray, Belinay and Aysima, which are all in the current Turkish Top 50 for girls.

Boy names that mean "moon" include dozens of dynamic Japanese names like Michika, Reito and Tsukio, which can all be formed from different kanji combinations to give various moon-related meanings.

Moon-inspired girl names

  1. Aruna: This pretty Japanese name, which can mean "moon love" (depending on the kanji characters used), is a perfect underused alternative to popular A-sandwich choices like Aria and Aurora.
  2. Esmeray: A beautiful Turkish name with the evocative meaning of "dark moon", which might appeal to lovers of rapid riser Esme.
  3. Lusine: Also spelled Lucine or Lusineh, this sophisticated Armenian choice could make for an unexpected route to Lucy or Lou.
  4. Mahina: A moon goddess in Hawaiian mythology, whose attractive name literally means "moon" in the Hawaiian language.
  5. Sasithorn: This poetic word for the moon is also used as a name in its native Thailand, pronounced "sah-see-TAWN". Sweet short form Sasi also means "moon".

And here are a few more of our favorite lunar names for girls from around the globe:

  1. Adzumi
  2. Aysel
  3. Channary
  4. Hala
  5. Indu
  6. Livana
  7. Lua
  8. Mahrukh
  9. Miray
  10. Neoma
  11. Orana
  12. Quilla
  13. Runa
  14. Saran
  15. Sihana
  16. Tsuki
  17. Vinterny
  18. Volana
  19. Zira
  20. Zulay

Moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ainar: This strong-sounding Kazakh name is actually unisex, meaning "male moon", "fire moon" or "pomegranate moon" (what a great image!).
  2. Isildur: A literary lunar name from J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium, in which it belongs to a heroic king.
  3. Jerah: A rare Biblical boys' name with a contemporary sound, which could make for a great underused alternative to the likes of Noah and Jeremiah.
  4. Mani: Properly spelled Máni, this energetic mini name belongs to the personification of the moon in Norse mythology.
  5. Vikesh: A strong and striking Hindu name which is fairly common in India, but virtually unknown elsewhere.

And here's a selection of other great moon names for boys from around the globe:

  1. Asaki
  2. Aydemir
  3. Badar
  4. Chanchai
  5. Dal
  6. Ehaan
  7. Hilal
  8. Iyar
  9. Kamer
  10. Koray
  11. Luan
  12. Mahan
  13. Maziar
  14. Naito
  15. Nantu
  16. Qamar
  17. Rakesh
  18. Rua
  19. Zoro
  20. Zunair

Galactic moon names

We recently reported on the rise of planetary baby names, as well as of mythological names relating to the heavens, like Apollo and Zephyr: Greek gods of the sun and the west wind, respectively.

But how about the names of other moons? There are some stellar options out there, mostly drawn from myth, legend and literature—right on trend, but rarely used.

Galactic moon-inspired girl names

  1. Amalthea: A moon of Jupiter, named for the goat (or goat-keeper) who raised the infant Zeus. It would make a lovely longer form for the fashionable mini-name Thea.
  2. Calypso: A fun-filled name with a lively rhythm and musical links to the West Indies. Callie and Cleo could make for great nicknames.
  3. Leda: The name of the beautiful mother of Helen of Troy in Greek mythology is surprisingly underused, despite its simple, international appeal: it was given to just 17 baby girls in 2018.
  4. Thebe: Far rarer than Phoebe, but with the same light and simple sound, Thebe is another moon of Jupiter.
  5. Skathi: This tiny moon of Saturn is named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of winter and archery.

And here are a few more appealing faraway moon names for girls:

  1. Anthe
  2. Belinda
  3. Bianca
  4. Carme
  5. Cressida
  6. Despina
  7. Elara
  8. Galatea
  9. Helene
  10. Io
  11. Larissa
  12. Mab
  13. Miranda
  14. Ophelia
  15. Pandora
  16. Perdita
  17. Rhea
  18. Rosalind
  19. Thalassa
  20. Titania

Galactic moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ariel: This handsome Hebrew name may have become far more popular for girls in the US, thanks to a certain Little Mermaid, but it's a truly unisex choice in Israel: #4 for boys and #23 for girls in the last year on record (2016).
  2. Fenrir: The name of a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, and of an evil werewolf in the Harry Potter books—but if Wolf itself can catch on…
  3. Hyperion: One of the Titans in Greek mythology, Hyperion lends his majestic name to another of Saturn's moons.
  4. Narvi: Also spelled Narfi, this quirky Norse mythology name belongs to the father of Nótt, the personification of the night.
  5. Umbriel: A moon of Uranus, named (along with Ariel and Belinda) for a character from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The name was probably inspired by Latin umbra "shadow."

And here are more magical moon names for boys from myth and legend:

  1. Aegir
  2. Atlas
  3. Caliban
  4. Ferdinand
  5. Francisco
  6. Janus
  7. Loge
  8. Neso
  9. Nix
  10. Oberon
  11. Pan
  12. Prospero
  13. Proteus
  14. Puck
  15. Sao
  16. Stephano
  17. Surtur
  18. Titan
  19. Trinculo
  20. Ymir

This post by Emma Waterhouse was first published on Nameberry

Learn + Play

My son is terrified that he might win his school's reading contest. If he does, he'll be invited, with the other winners, to attend a special lunch at a local Chinese food restaurant. My son loves books. He hates Chinese food. In fact, he hates pretty much any food that isn't chicken fingers, french fries, ketchup, bagels and cream cheese, or cereal. Occasionally he'll eat a jam sandwich but only if the jam isn't homemade. He'll eat apples, but only Red Delicious. And carrots. Raw.

I know what you're thinking. I let our child dictate the menu for the entire household based on his sugary and basic likes. Except I don't. I just have a very picky eater.

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His fussiness over food has been something I've struggled with. I devoured articles on picky eaters and followed their advice to the letter. Did you know that if you present picky eaters with a certain food an average of 17 times they will finally try it because it seems "familiar"? Except he didn't.

I tried sneaking "good" food into what he would eat. Bran muffins harbored shredded zucchini. Pizza sauce hid pureed carrots. Chocolate cake was made moist with pumpkin. I felt like a cheater. And still, it didn't work. This kid has olfactory skills that would shame drug-sniffing dogs – assuming the drugs smelled like broccoli.

I model good eating. A plate loaded with organic veggies aside whole-wheat pasta, for example. Homemade bread teeming with hemp seed. Even my "bad" food is good—biodynamic wine and homemade tortilla chips.

Nope. He had none of it.

I felt inferior to friends whose toddlers nibbled shrimp or requested sushi with an adorable lisp. I envied their breezy sophistication. Their worldly and open-minded kids. I feared a life that precluded ever taking my son to a restaurant that didn't offer a kids' menu. I imagined the future people who would never date him, joking with their friends about his love of "nuggets." I imagined the jobs he wouldn't get because the executives, over lunch, would conclude he couldn't think outside the box, given that his food was served in one.

But most of all, I worried about what my son's narrow appetite said about me.

I was pedestrian. Parochial. Predictable. Picky.

It's with that realization that I was able to abandon my mission to convince, cajole, bribe, trick or otherwise coerce my child into eating food he refuses.

I ate pizza for the first time on my 19th birthday. Tried lasagna in my second year of college. And finally indulged in spaghetti and meatballs when, at 23, I was poor, studying in France and ordered the cheapest—and most recognizable—thing on the menu. I was 25 before I tried any type of ethnic food. Twenty-eight before I ate lobster. I still don't eat ketchup. Or mayonnaise. Or mustard. I'm not just anti-condiment. I also won't touch fish with their eyes intact. Liver. Tongue. The list goes on and on.

My own childhood menu consisted of bologna sandwiches (white bread, thank you very much). Saltines. Boiled potatoes. I ate hamburgers, plain. Chicken (white meat only) with no skin or sauce, broiled. Iceberg lettuce and carrots. Occasionally I would eat an apple. My brother refuses to accept I've ever been a child since I didn't eat peanut butter, "the official food of childhood," he points out.

What changed? Well, I grew up. Moved away from home. Spent time in another country renowned for its food. On my own, I began to experiment. To try, just a nibble. With no one taking inventory of what went into my mouth, I felt freer to explore and draw my own conclusions.

I'm beginning to believe my son will follow a similar path. Just the other day he tried red pepper. "Yuck," he said.

Will he someday meet me for sushi? I doubt it.

But I don't like sushi anyway.

Life
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