As a new mom I have so much love for my baby—but I’m struggling to love myself

No one told me I would give birth to an entirely new version of myself the day I gave birth to my son.

struggling to love self as new mom

Becoming a first-time mother has been one of the most humbling—yet painful—experiences of my life. No one ever told me I would give birth to an entirely new version of myself the day I gave birth to my son.

No one said that once life falls back into a somewhat more manageable schedule, I would be left living with a body and brain I no longer recognized.

No one told me that once that "new baby buzz" wears off, motherhood can feel isolated and restrictive.

I have a new scar, a wholly altered set of hormones, thinner (and frizzier) hair, breasts that no longer resist gravity, and a different relationship with my husband. Not to mention the endless new responsibilities and learning curves that no amount of Googling can help me adequately tackle.


I feel like my sense of self has been pulled out from under me, quickly yanked away, and replaced by a trickier-to-navigate version. This new me is far more complicated than before and always wonders, What did I do with my free time before I became a mother?

There are days that I'm left floundering. I feel unable to adequately communicate my needs to those around me, and find myself struggling to pull myself together to show up for the tiny human that sits in front of me with the sweetest sense of wonder in his eyes.

But I am in awe of both the strength and softness my body and mind possess to nurture my son. There are many times that the love I feel for him is so overpowering I can't help but pause and feel its depth. To soak it up and fully recognize its strength and secretly hope that some of that profound love makes its way to me. Because there are many days I can't help but wonder, Why is it so hard for me to love myself?

When I spend time and reflect on finding the answer to this question (which is usually about five uninterrupted minutes in the shower), I conclude that the self-love I struggle with finding is rooted in the absence of emotional preparation and acceptance that I put into transitioning into motherhood.

During pregnancy, I spent hours researching the best sleep-inducing swaddles, organic crib sheets, compostable diaper pail bags (a terrible idea, in retrospect), and the precise age to introduce a pacifier to a breastfed baby. In addition to all things baby, I fell into rabbit hole after rabbit hole with each new twinge or ache I experience as my pregnancy progressed.

Armed with all of this new knowledge (little of which I used, mind you), I never once considered spending time getting to know myself as a pregnant woman, someone preparing to bring a new human into this earth. I didn't sit with the feelings and thoughts that solely had to do with me, as most everything focused on my growing baby. I never once thought about the type of person I would be outside of my role as a mother once my son was in this world.

But there isn't one aspect of myself that is the same since I've given birth.

In retrospect, some preparation around the emotional changes that occur when entering motherhood could have armed me with a stronger sense of self-love. Perhaps I wouldn't have been caught so off-guard with every twist and turn that comes with my new role as a mother.

Here's what I wish I could have told myself many months ago:

You will feel disconnected from yourself for a while, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will see a (sometimes challenging) change in your relationships, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will lose your hair in clumps, and then it will grow back in short, spiky patches, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will doubt and question yourself over and over again, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will hold onto those last 10 pounds until your body no longer needs them, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will become used to running on nearly empty for days on end, and that's okay (and it's also temporary). I love you anyway.

You will wonder if chasing your career over watching your son grow up makes you a bad mother (it doesn't), and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will mourn the loss of your old life and feel guilty for doing so, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will look down at your body and feel like it is foreign for many, many months, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will snap, cry, break down and repeat, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will look at photos of yourself and wonder who that woman is staring back at you, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will find that sometimes your anxiety will overshadow your intuition, and that's okay. I love you anyway.

You will discover that your pre-baby clothes don't fit like they used to, and that's okay. Buy yourself some new clothes, and yes, yoga pants are acceptable. I love you anyway.

You will never have it all figured out (no one does), and that's okay. I love you anyway.

While the love for my son flows without limit or condition, working on feeling the love I feel for myself is a constant challenge. To help me better navigate this time, I've decided that instead of seeking the grand idea of unconditional self-love (which, to be honest, feels unattainable right now), I'm working on self-compassion instead.

Self-compassion sounds less intimidating and provides me with ample wiggle room to navigate those "How did I get here?!" days with a greater sense of kindness for myself. I believe that if I can approach each hurdle of motherhood with self-compassion, I'll one day be able to look at myself and recognize that the self-love has actually been there all along.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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