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Every birth is unique. And for some, a birth experience can be deeply troubling and even cause post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


After giving birth, many women share a sense of disappointment, anger or fear. And this may have happened to you. Despite your best efforts, your birth did not turn out the way you planned. You may be angry. And you may think about your birth—a lot.

Fortunately, if you have had a troubling, difficult, or traumatic birth, there are some positive steps you can take.

What makes a birth experience difficult?

Some births seem really bad to outside observers, and yet mothers feel positive about them. Other mothers have births that appear perfect on paper, yet they are deeply troubled. Some births are life threatening and affect mothers for years.

There is an assumption underlying much of the research on birth experiences that vaginal deliveries are usually positive, which is not always the case, and that cesareans are usually negative, also not always the case.

So what determines how a mother will feel? Researchers have previously defined good and bad birth experiences in terms of objective characteristics:

  • length of labor
  • use of pain medications
  • medical interventions
  • type of delivery

When considering women’s reactions to their births, I have found it more useful to consider the subjective characteristics. Trauma psychologist Charles Figley describes these subjective aspects in his classic book, Trauma and Its Wake. In looking at the range of traumatic events, he notes that an experience will be troubling to the extent that it is sudden, overwhelming and dangerous.

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Let’s examine these in relation to birth:

  • Sudden: Did things happen quickly? Did your birth change from “fine” too dangerous in a short time? Did anyone have time to explain what was happening to you?
  • Overwhelming: Did you feel swept away by the hospital routine? Were you physically restrained? Did you feel disconnected from what was happening? Did you have general anesthetic?
  • Dangerous: Was your delivery a medical emergency? Did you have failed anesthesia? Did you develop a life-threatening complication? Was the baby in danger? Did you think you or your baby would die?

These three aspects can occur in vaginal or cesarean deliveries. In terms of understanding your reactions, the objective factors of your birth are less important than your subjective experience of it.

Some other risk factors for traumatic birth include your own history of depression, anxiety disorders, or trauma. Having a preterm baby can also be frightening and can lead to a negative reaction.

Relationships

Not surprisingly, your birth experience can impact your relationships with other people. You might be angry or disappointed that people who were there to support you during labor weren’t able to protect you. When you try to talk about your experience, others may not want you to.

Not being able to talk about your birth can compound your negative feelings. In the research literature on psychological trauma, this is known as sanctuary trauma. Sanctuary trauma occurs when a person has experienced a traumatic event and turns to those whom he or she usually counts on for support. Instead of offering support, these people either ignore or dismiss the issue, further contributing to a victim’s sense of isolation and trauma.

Unfortunately, a difficult birth can also influence another important relationship: your relationship with your baby.

After your baby’s birth, you may have felt numb. Even weeks later, you may feel disconnected from your baby. This effect can be compounded if your baby had health problems and needed to stay in the hospital, away from you.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding may have also gotten off to a very rough start. The stress of your birth may have delayed when your milk came in by several days. You may have needed to supplement your baby with formula to get through this time. And if breastfeeding didn’t work out, for whatever reason, you may have experienced this as another significant loss—or even failure.

In our study of 6,410 new mothers, women who had any type of birth intervention were less likely to be exclusively breastfeeding. However, even after a very difficult beginning, exclusive breastfeeding is possible.

Fear and pain

Below, are two birth stories from a woman named Kathy. Each birth was difficult for different reasons. The subjective factors I described above are important themes in both stories. There is fear of dying, overwhelming pain, and feeling trapped. There was also a replaying of events after these births.

When Peter was born, the birth itself was pain-free. He was small, especially his head and shoulders, and it truly didn’t hurt at all. I kept insisting I wasn’t really in labor up until two minutes before he was born when the doctor told me to lie down and push! He was born at 9:30, they told us he had Down syndrome at noon, and by 4 p.m., I was hemorrhaging so badly that I came within two minutes of death. I had to have an emergency D & C with no anesthesia and a big blood transfusion.

That night, they told us Peter needed immediate surgery and had to go to a hospital in another city. A very traumatic day, to say the least. And then they sent me home the next day with no mention at all that I might want to talk to somebody about any of this—the Down syndrome, the near-death experience, nothing.

I can still call up those memories with crystal clarity. And whenever we hear about another couple, I have to re-process those feelings. Interestingly, most of them relate to the hemorrhaging and D & C, not to the Down syndrome news. They’re all tied up together. Maybe it’s good to remind myself every so often of how precious life is.

My third birth was excruciatingly painful—baby was 9 lb 3 ounces, with severe shoulder dystocia. I had some Stadol right before transition, but that’s all the pain relief I had. I thought I was going to die and lost all perspective on the fact that I was having a baby. I just tried to live through each contraction. I was flat on my back, with my feet up in stirrups, and watching the fetal monitor as I charted each contraction. I know now that if I had been squatting, or on my hands and knees, I probably could have gotten him out much easier.

That night, after Alex was born, I could not sleep at all because every time I tried to go to sleep, my brain would start re-running the tape of labor, and I would feel the pain and the fright and the fears of dying all over again. I stayed up all that night and the next day and didn’t sleep until I was home in my own bed.

In Kathy’s stories, we see some classic symptoms of a posttraumatic stress response:

  • the fear of dying
  • the re-experiencing of her birth
  • the sleeplessness.

She did eventually come to a place of peace over her experiences, but the memories of those two births have remained vivid.

Road to recovery

If you had a difficult birth experience, you cannot change that. There are, however, a number of positive steps that you can take to help you resolve your experience and heal from it. Coming to terms with a negative birth experience is a process that can take months. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight. You can overcome this.

Here are some things that other mothers have found helpful:

1) Process your experience

You may find it helpful to contact one of the support organizations to talk to someone who can validate your feelings and help you come to terms with your experience. Peer support, in person or online, can also be helpful. Some women find short term therapy helpful.

Another option is to write about your experience. Some find that writing in a journal is very therapeutic, and they’re not imagining this effect. Researchers have found that writing can help you heal from trauma. If you’d like to try it, I’d encourage you to get the book, Writing to Heal, to get the most out of this activity.

2) Learn as much as you can about your experience

I always encourage mothers to get copies of their medical records. If possible, talk with your healthcare provider or someone else who can help you understand the events that occurred during your birth. It is also helpful to read books that might put your birth experience in a broader perspective. Reading will do much to validate your experience and help you understand it.

You may still be angry, or you may get angry for the first time, but eventually the experience will not dominate your thoughts. If you plan to have another baby, the information you gain during this stage will make you a wiser consumer.

3) Give yourself time to get to know your baby

Your baby’s entry into the world was far from ideal. You may feel disconnected from her. Some mothers report that their baby doesn’t feel like their own. Fortunately, you can do something about this. Spend as much time as you can with your baby skin-to-skin, if it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. If skin-to-skin contact feels like too much, which can happen sometimes following trauma, ease into it gradually. You can get a lot of the same effects if you and your baby are lightly clothed.

You might also try infant massage. That can be a great way to get to know your baby and start to feel connected to each other. Babywearing is another helpful strategy.

4) Breastfeed

Following a traumatic birth, breastfeeding can also be difficult. Holding your baby skin-to-skin, or in light clothing, can also reactivate your baby’s feeding instincts and help your baby find and latch onto the breast, sometimes even weeks after birth. That reconnection can be healing for both of you. But mostly, you need to see that your baby prefers you to all others, even if, at the moment, you are having problems learning to breastfeed.

Get as much help and support as you can. Your stress hormone levels are likely high. Any activity you can do to bring them down will help. So accept all offers of household help. Relax as much as you can. Do things you enjoy. And spend as much time as you can with your baby. The two of you have been through a lot.

If your milk production is delayed by a few days, you may need to briefly supplement. This can be really disappointing. But remember, this is a short term strategy to get breastfeeding back on track. Things really will get easier.

5) Realize your partner may have also been traumatized

A negative birth experience can create problems between you and your partner. Like you, your partner may have felt powerless and swept away by the experience. Your partner might feel guilty because he or she could not protect you, and they may react to their bad feelings by being angry with you.

Because of those negative feelings, your partner may be unable to offer you emotional support. In this case, the most effective thing you can do is to be honest about your feelings with one another and try to find outside support together. If, however, your partner is not willing to work with you to resolve your birth experience, you must seek help alone.

6) Resist the temptation to rush into another pregnancy just to do it “right”

I often meet mothers who were unhappy with their birth experiences, who quickly become pregnant again in order to make it a better experience “this time.” You need some time in order to put your experience into perspective, get to know the baby you already have, and physically recover. Adding another pregnancy to the equation makes things much more complicated and may not give you sufficient time to consider all of your options.

7) Resist making hasty decisions about not becoming pregnant again

This is not the time to make a decision about permanent birth control. Some women make this decision only to regret it later. Understandably, you never want to repeat what you’ve been through. However, it is much better to make a deliberate decision rather than simply immediately reacting to a negative birth experience.

8) Make a conscious effort to forgive yourself

At first, you might balk at this suggestion: “I have nothing to forgive myself about.” If you still feel this way after you’ve thought about it, great! However, I’ve talked with many women who blame themselves and feel like they somehow failed. “If only I had been stronger…” “If only I had checked out the doctor/hospital more carefully….” “If only I had gone to a different prenatal class…”

The “if only’s” are endless. Recognize that you did the best you could under the circumstances and with the knowledge you had at the time, and let yourself off the hook!

10) Recognize that birth is only the beginning of a life long relationship with your baby

Motherhood is a role you gradually grow in to. A difficult beginning does not need to be the blueprint for the rest of your mothering career. It is important to realize that a negative birth experience can affect your relationship with your baby, but it does not have to. This is why it is vital for you to get the support you need as soon as possible.

I have seen mothers who have had difficult births try to make up for it by being supermom—to everyone’s detriment. It is difficult for anyone to be responsive and giving toward an infant or child when she is hurting inside.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to take good care of yourself and actively search for support. Many mothers and babies have overcome difficult beginnings. I am confident that you can, too.

Original article by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

We teach our children to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs, brush their teeth to prevent cavities, and we take care to make sure they get they get the sleep that is critical for healthy child development. But we also know that not every child in America can wash their hands, brush their teeth, or sleep without bright lights shining down on them. The children inside Border Patrol detention facilities don't have access to things like hygiene supplies or beds, and it is keeping many American mothers up at night.

As the Washington Post reports, lawyers for the U.S. government argue that it should not be required to provide detained migrant children with toothbrushes, soap, showers or conditions conducive to sleep. This is concerning many Americans, especially after a report from The Associated Press painted a bleak picture of unsanitary conditions for children detained at Border Patrol facilities, some with no parent to care for them.

For many, this isn't about politics, but about compassion. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated that it is "within everybody's common understanding that if you don't have a toothbrush, you don't have soap, you don't have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary [conditions]," and many parents around the country agree.

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The children who are reportedly getting sick from unsanitary conditions need voices like Tashima's, but you don't have to be a judge to speak for them.

Here are 5 powerful ways to help these kids:

1. Call your representatives

You can follow Tashima's lead and let your reps know that your definition of "safe and sanitary" includes access to hygiene items and sleep.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers.

Just tell the congressional staffer who picks up the phone that you want to see soap, toothbrushes and beds for detained children right now.

Consider saving those direct numbers in your phone so that you can follow up with more calls in the future.

2. Use digital tools and data

You're probably reading this on your phone right now, so obviously calling your rep isn't the only way to get their attention. We all have powerful computers in our palms these days, and you can slide into your reps DMs or amplify this issue by tagging them in a tweet or Facebook post.

The internet hasn't just given us the ability to connect with our politicians, it has given us unprecedented access to information and science, and in this case, the science is pretty simple: Handwashing is "a win for everyone", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study after study after study backs the CDC up. Handwashing can keep kids alive by preventing everything from diarrhea to the flu.

The scientists at the CDC say that "washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them.

So it is vital for these kids to have access to hygiene and sanitation as influenza is common in the detention centers.

The same challenges that make it hard to control communicable disease transmission and outbreaks in jails and prisons—high turnover rates of staff and the detained, a population vulnerable to illness—put these children at risk, and while the New York Times reports some guards at the detention facilities have taken to wearing paper masks to keep them from catching what the kids have, it is totally possible that someone who works around these detained kids will get sick, and that could put a population outside of the facility at risk.

Giving detained people access to sanitation should be a public health priority.

3. Keep talking about this + encourage others to make their own calls

This conversation comes nearly a year after ProPublica released audio reportedly recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility and mothers across America cried listening to the sounds of those children crying.

Now, the conversation has shifted to sanitation, but it's important to remember that soap, toothbrushes and showers aren't all these kids are missing—they're missing their families, too. Children continue to be separated from their families, something that will impact them for the rest of their lives, whether those lives happen in America or elsewhere.

There are a lot of debates going on about how to solve this crisis, but one thing that many groups, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree on is that these facilities were not designed to house kids.

Something's got to change, and the more people that are calling their reps, the better.

Tell your friends that you're talking to your representatives about this and ask them to call, too. A lot of people have never called a politician's office before, so let those in your circle know about how the ACLU will route their call and pass on the short script for those who get flustered on the phone.

4. Donate to organizations that will help migrant families


There are many organizations working to get and keep children out of detention centers so that they will not have to live in the kinds of conditions being reported. All of the following organizations are trying to help children caught up in this crisis.

American Immigration Council: This organization gets on the ground at detention centers helping families, documenting conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides "emergency legal aid to refugee families".

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services: Provides "free and low cost immigration services".

Families Belong Together: Is a group effort that "includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.

Justice for Our Neighbors: Provides low-income families with "affordable, high quality immigration legal services".

Kids In Need of Defense: According to its website, KIND "partners with major law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings."

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: States it is "dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: The faith-based organization "works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States."

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR "is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. "

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): A non-profit that aims to reunite families and help kids feel safe, this Texas-based nonprofit aims to "directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings" and "ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts."

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and "champion the child's best interests".

5. Teach our children kindness and compassion 

Our generation couldn't stop this from happening to these children, but perhaps our children will be able to protect the children that come after them.

By instilling empathy, compassion and kindness in the next generation we are planting the seeds for a kinder world, and those seeds desperately need to be planted.

Caring for these children is not a partisan issue, it's an issue many parents all over the political spectrum are grappling with. Many have differing opinions about how to resolve the issues at the root of this problem, but many parents can agree that if their child was in this position they would want them to be shown some kindness.

As much as many parents would love to scoop these children up, draw them a bubble bath and find them a safe, warm place to sleep, we can't. But we can do those things for our own children, and in doing so we will teach them about love and kindness.

And hopefully, future generations will not be having the conversations.

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News

[Editor's Note: This is the beginning of a new weekly series where we'll round up our favorite "Good News" stories that went viral. Enjoy!]

It's Friday, mama! We made it! There has been a ton of heavy news to digest this week, but there have also been some amazingly good news stories to come out of the last seven days.

If you need a little positivity to carry you into the weekend, check out the headlines that made us smile this week.

This mama got her rainbow baby after 13 pregnancy losses 🌈

British mama Laura Worsley is living her dream with her baby daughter Ivy after losing a heartbreaking 13 pregnancies, People reports. She had her first miscarriage in 2008, and sadly, many more followed. "Eleven of Laura Worsley's pregnancies ended in the first trimester but she also lost two boys at 17 and 20 weeks," BBC News reports.

Eventually, Laura learned she was suffering from Antiphospholipid syndrome, a condition that was making it impossible for her to carry a baby. She also had Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis happening in her placenta, which makes was causing her placenta to die in places, according to Worsley.

Finally, doctors got her on a medication to improve the lining of her uterus, and Worsley and her husband conceived baby Ivy. "I thought if there's that one bit of hope, I had to try again," Laura told BBC News. "I spoke to Dave about it and he felt the same. I told myself, 'this is the last time I'm doing this.'"

On their 14th attempt (with the help of steroids and medications to suppress Worsley's immune system and allow the pregnancy to progress) Ivy came into the world.

"Even now, nine months on, I can't believe she's actually mine," Worsley told BBC News.

That adorable dad + baby from the viral video booked a Denny's commercial 

Remember that dad and the adorable babbling baby in the viral video we featured on our Facebook page earlier this month? Well, now they've book a Denny's commercial! (Talk about a quick turn around!)

That original viral video surpassed 2 million views within 48 hours of being posted, so it's no wonder the marketing team at Denny's thought, We've gotta get this guy!

The cuteness is too much and the new commercial shows the dad, comedian DJ Pryor, and his 19-month-old (ADORABLE) son Kingston having a chat in a booth at Denny's over breakfast food.

We love it and we love that it is part of a wider trend of companies showing dads in caring roles in advertising.

One woman's color-coded grandkids are going viral 

This is too cute! Mom Chrissy Roussel posted this photo of her kids and their cousins a couple of years ago (there's been a couple of additions since!) to show all the grandkids her parents have.

"The photo was my sister's idea," Chrissy, who has three brothers and two sisters, told POPSUGAR. "Having a big family means lots of noise, laughter, and, most importantly, love. Between the 17 cousins, there's always someone to play with and have fun with. They have a ball together. I loved having a big family growing up, and I'm so happy that my kids have the same experience."

In a recent Facebook update this week, Rossel reacted to the continued vitality of her colorful photo.

"I have to say we had NO IDEA this picture would be shared so much and resonate with so many people. We just thought it would be a fun pic to take of all the cousins while we were at the beach. My sister Maryellen suggested the shirts, and my amazingly talented SIL Katie (Annabelle Rose Photography) took the pics," Roussel wrote in on her Facebook page.

Parents are loving these potentially life-saving seat-belt straps! 

Australian mom Natalie Bell is going super viral for her seat belt steps for special needs kids. She runs Personalised By Nat, a company where she creates personalized stuff and came up with the idea to make seat belt straps that can inform first responders of a child's issues in the event of an accident.

"I always wonder what would happen if I was in a car accident with my daughter in the car and I was unable to let the doctors know that my daughter could not have a MRI due to having a cochlear implant, now I don't need to worry about that with these seat belt covers," she wrote.

"These can be made for any special needs that the medical team will need to know if you are unable to tell them."

As Yahoo News reports, overnight the post went viral and parents were talking about what a great idea it is.

"My husband is part of Fire and Rescue and said that this is a brilliant idea," one comment wrote.

"Such a valuable piece that provides a lot of information clearly so that [responders] involved can approach situations with knowledge and care," said another.

The Rock can't build a doll house 😂

We love The Rock's dad moments. He consistently cracks us up, and this week he had an epic dad problem. His little daughter, Jazzy, (seriously, look at this kiddo, she's too cute) got a dollhouse which is "assembly required" and The Rock does not have the toy assembling skills to meet that requirement.

"My 'On my way out the door to get my morning workout in before work and my 3yr old Jazzy says Daddy can you put together this Barbie house please' look," The Rock captioned the above photo.

We totally get you, Dwayne. All those little plastic parts can be a challenge, even for someone who swings from skyscrapers. 😂

Apparently, Jazzy's mom, Lauren Hashian, is the chief dollhouse builder in that household.

Young boys are wearing Women’s National Team jerseys, proving that hero athletes can be any gender 💪

Okay, so the Women's National Soccer team is killin' it, but as the Washington Post reports, the women's team is still not paid equal to the mens' team (even though they are winning more and attracting more fans).

But, as Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens writes, young male soccer fans clearly understand how awesome the women's team is because boys are starting to rock women's team jerseys in schools!

While young girls often walk around in jerseys with male athletes names on the back, it's new to see boys wearing the names of women athletes on such a large scale.

This is a big deal for girls and boys, and it's awesome.

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News

It's a big fear for many people when they're pregnant: Will my non-mom friends still want to hang when I become a parent? Will we have anything in common anymore? Will they still call, text or visit me?

Clearly, Amy Schumer is navigating those concerns right now while adjusting to her new #momlife, because her friend Jennifer Lawrence (who doesn't have kids) is struggling with the transition, too.

Schumer shared the evidence in her Instagram Stories, proving JLaw has a sense of humor about the whole thing 

It looks like Lawrence got confused about what was happening on The Handmaid's Tale and needed Schumer's help ASAP, as apparently not understanding a TV plot constitutes "an emergency" in their friendship. (We totally understand).

"Amy!!! What did she do on season 1 to deserve being in the gallows on season 2? I can't remember where I left off. Are you asleep bc of the baby??? Are you asleep before 11? Is this bc of the baby? Don't make me resent the baby."

When Schumer didn't text back instantly, Lawrence took it to a whole other level.

She continues: "Wow, Ur really asleep before 11. I'll be damned."

"Everybody keeping their cool about me having a baby," Schumer captioned a screenshot of the text exchange.

The thing is, people do freak out a big when someone close to them has a baby. It happens, but it doesn't have to ruin a friendship (although maybe chill on the late night texts).

People do change, but relationships can evolve, too.

When people have babies pretty much everything in their life shifts. Priorities, free time, and even what you like to do for fun changes (as Schumer noted on Instagram she actually has a hard time watching The Handmaid's Tale now that she's a mom due to the heavy content—and that happens to a lot of parents as Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety mentions in the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Sponsored by Prudential).

But that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't have a baby and someone who does don't have anything in common anymore.

Parents are still people, and we are still the people we were before we had kids. Friendships can endure, and it is beautiful when they do.

According to therapist Rachel Bowers, some moms feel most connected to their pre-mom selves then hang with friends who aren't parents. It's good for us!

Friendships can survive and thrive after motherhood 

Bowers says many moms preemptively assume their friends without kids won't want to chill anymore but that isn't always true. "They may be worried about inviting you places and making you feel disappointed when you can't come or even not wanting to 'bother' you since you have a new baby," says Bowers, but as mom of three Colleen Temple wrote for Motherly, moms often crave those invites from child-free friends and having to say no is better than not getting the invite at all.

It's a complicated situation, but Bowers suggests open communication can make a huge difference. If you're the Amy Schumer, tell your JLaw that you appreciate the text, and if you're not getting them, tell her that her friendship is still important to you even though you have a baby now. And if it doesn't work out, know that that doesn't mean you're not worthy of friendship/

"It's important to remember that some friendships just won't make the transition, and that is okay," says Bowers.

Sometimes parenthood makes us drift apart from some people, but if you prioritize relationships that are important to you it totally doesn't have to. Having some girls time away from the baby is good for mamas, so Schumer should go have a movie night with JLaw (but maybe watch something that hurts a mama heart less than The Handmaid's Tale?.)

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News

She's goop's Chief Content Officer and co-hosts the goop podcast with Gwenyth Paltrow. Elise Loehnen has been a driving force in changing the cultural conversation about women's health and wellness through a female-founded company that is 80% women.

She's also a mother of two, and in the second episode of the second season of The Motherly Podcast, Sponsored by Prudential, Loehnen tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety that even though paid family leave is desperately needed in America, it isn't a silver bullet to fix the problems parents are facing today. To Loehnen, the solution to helping women balance work, motherhood and their health isn't taking them out of the workforce for extended periods of time, but rather creating a culture that allows people to be employees and parents at the same time.

"I just want ongoing flexibility and the ability to manage my own time and work autonomously and know that I'm gonna be able to deliver as best as I can against all of the various demands. But I can only really do that when I feel like I have power and autonomy in my own life," she explains.

Changing the way the workplace sees mothers 

As Loehnen tells it, part of the culture at goop is to model a way that women can be mothers and leaders. She is doing that by admitting that the balance shifts daily in a parent's life, and sometimes it's not perfect.

"You're never gonna show up for work every day, because there are gonna be times when you're gonna need to be home with your sick child. And likewise, you're not gonna be at every school event."

For many parents, priorities shift on a daily basis. No one can be in two places at once, but Loehnen suggests that if employers want to hire people who know how to multitask and maximize their efficiency, moms make for good hires. "The amount that I can accomplish in 20 minutes stuns me," she tells Tenety.

Changing the way medical professionals see mothers 

Loehnen is changing the way mothers are seen at work, but she wants those who work with mothers to change the way they see us, too.

"I think we need to do a much better job of supporting women physically after childbirth," she says, explaining that "other countries leave us in the dust in terms of other women rebuilding their pelvic floor health [and] making sure their nutrients are back in order."

We know that many new moms in America are putting their own health last, and often feel invisible, even at the doctor's office. This leads to stress, burnout and all kinds of poor outcomes for moms, babies and families.

"You have to go in and complain and complain and complain and mothers don't have time to do that, so I think we need a reclaim and rebuild of health for women after having babies," Loehnen explains.

Loehnen is changing the way this country sees mothers and how we see ourselves, and she's proving that taking a holistic view and seeing us as people, not reducing us to our job titles or single body parts is vital. It's time to look at mothers as a whole because we have so much to contribute.

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