I think it’s safe for me to say that while you’re pregnant, there is little time to learn about some of the extreme emotional experiences you will have after your birth. I’m pretty sure you’re not sitting down for green juice with your momma-friends saying, “Oh hey, want to talk about mommy guilt?” Nobody does that…although, I think we should consider starting.
My friend and I were recently texting back and forth about a book she’s helping me edit about the first year after having your baby. Chapter one: That Shit Caught Me Off Guard. One massive way she was caught off guard was all about the #Mommyguilt (MG) she felt after having a baby.
MG comes in all forms, but too often we simply clamp down and don’t talk about it. Guilt, as we have learned in the last decade, is deeply steeped in shame. We now know more than ever about shame because of amazing storytellers and researchers like Brené Brown.
We’ve learned that shame is born in the Limbic Brain, which controls our emotions and releases the stress hormone cortisol. How much cortisol is released into our bodies is directly related to our emotional responses to situations. Cortisol, however, builds up and stores, much like fat, in our bodies. When we don’t take care of our stress, cortisol ramps up and exacerbates sleep deprivation and that “edgy” panic feeling under your skin.
Three ways to combat MG:
1. Develop the habit of meditation practice. The whole body is positively affected by meditation. You will be incredibly responsive to a 5-minute daily meditation practice if you make it a priority and life habit.
2. Trust your gut. This will help you immensely in many situations, but especially when it comes to sex. In all my years working with moms, I can count the number of women on two hands who were like, “SEX is the best thing ever now that I gave birth!” Getting your mojo back after giving birth is vastly different for every woman. It’s more common for us to have one job in mind: taking care of a baby. Not our “hey babe” baby. If the heat explodes in your relationship and you’re not “feeling it,” try exploring intimacy vs. intercourse in conversation with your partner. A great book I always suggest to all couples is How to Have Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton, Heen. It’s old, but wise and invaluable.
3. You can’t raise a child with a greater sense of resilience than you have yourself. Resilience is all about how you ‘bounce back,’ and the goal is to bounce back healthy. To build resilience, you need to create or nurture meaningful connections. We all seek love and belonging, and you need this more than ever as a momma. You need friends that you can be your most vulnerable self with and friends you can support back. It’s the notion of turning guilt into giving. The more you give, the more you get.
If you’re pregnant and reading this, you’ll develop a deep knowing about your own ecosystem of motherhood, one that is right for your family. Advice, you can take it or leave it--you’ll learn this. But, when it comes to wisdom others give you because you ask, and it feels ‘right,’ soak that love up like summer sun.
This week, I leave you with one question. What brings on your mommy guilt? Tell us in the comments below or show us on Instagram (we love pictures). If you’re feeling brave, use hashtags #mommyguilt #themotherlove #WRNYbuildsconnection. The more mommas reach out in a time when you desperately need connection and bonding, other than with our babies, the stronger and more resilient we’ll all become.