Posted: Nov 01, 2013 10:00 AM
 
Being a mother is supposed to be blissful, right? What if you're exhausted, scared and just plain overwhelmed? Learn why it's crucial to reach out for the help you need to get through the early days of being a mom.

When you're pregnant, you spend a lot of time thinking about labor. They don't tell you that the hard part isn't labor, it's that first night home alone with your actual baby. The baby you're responsible for. While being a new mom is wonderful in many ways, it's also very challenging. Don't isolate yourself from help.

Let's dispel the myths of early motherhood

Pregnancy is usually pretty straightforward. In the best case scenario, you go about your daily business while getting bigger and more uncomfortable. Your body does most of the work. It can lull you into a false sense of security, because once the baby arrives, all bets are off. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're supposed to be flawless at motherhood. Being a new mom isn't a mystical state of being full of instincts and bliss. It's really, really hard. And you should reach out for all the help you can get, without shame.

Get perspective from other new moms

When you're in the thick of it, talking to other new moms can be a balm for your soul. Most of them will be struggling too, and you can share war stories.

Emily gave birth to her son three years ago. "I thought I was prepared, and that I knew what I was getting into," she says. "I did lots of reading — books and blogs, a balance of clinical information and personal stories. And even though I knew that babies cried and didn't sleep and it would be stressful, I really had no idea. If I couldn't stop his crying, I felt like a failure." She began to feel more and more overwhelmed and anxious. "Honestly it wasn't until he was 7 or so months old and I found a mom's group to join that I got a handle on things," she says. When you're in the thick of it, talking to other new moms can be a balm for your soul. Most of them will be struggling too, and you can share war stories.

Help isn't one size fits all

There's no right or wrong way to get what you need to survive the early days of motherhood.

When you're a struggling new mom, help can come in many forms. "I thought we were all going to die on day four," says Ashley, of her first days of parenting. "Seriously. My son is now 3 and I still remember how terrifying day four was. I ended up booking an appointment with a lactation consultant two days later that saved my sanity." Help can come in the form of a frozen casserole, a friend on the phone, a snack delivered to your nursing chair or a call to your therapist. You might need laundry folded or for your partner to take a feeding. There's no right or wrong way to get what you need to survive the early days of motherhood.

Try to be vulnerable without shame

Maria Mora with newborn sonWhen my son was a baby, I spent hours on the couch with him crying when we were home alone. I had intrusive thoughts about kitchen knives puncturing his little newborn body, so I was afraid to touch them. I thought the picture frames would fall off the walls and kill him. I never told anyone this. I didn't tell my husband. I didn't tell my mother. I didn't tell my doctor. I was ashamed of the way I felt and how scared I was. When things get hard, whether you're anxious or just too tired, try to push past the shame. People want to help you and no one wants you to suffer. It's difficult to admit that you need help when you think you're supposed to be able to handle anything as a mom, but part of being a mom is accepting that you can't do everything alone. Find your village, whether it means reaching out to your pediatrician or calling your best friend in the middle of the night.

More for new moms

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Best apps for new parents
The truth about stay-at-home motherhood

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