A recent study about baby infant formula not meeting the health requirements the companies claimed they provided shows that many normal aspects of parenting are being pathologised, viewed as or seeming to be somehow medically or psychologically abnormal.
This leads parents, in particular mothers, to feel guilty that they're not doing well enough, that they're failing, that they are falling short.
There's an entire industry that pathologises normal baby behaviour like crying and fussing. There's also a whole industry pathologising normal behaviour during motherhood telling women they should snap back to their pre-baby bodies, that they should get back to work, socialise, exercise, maintain a home, be intimate etc etc, all within weeks, as if nothing had changed, that they should do this, should do that, should be like, this and should be like that.
'Should, should, should, should, should, should, should'… I hear this from clients every day and see the damage this kind of pressure and unrealistic demands causes on their wellbeing, their self- esteem, their mental health.
Babies will cry. They will fuss. Mothers will be depleted and drained and struggle with the shift in their identity when they become mothers. Their sense of self will change and that shift can last for years. All these are normal things that happen. They are not ‘problems’ to be fixed and they certainly don’t show that women are failing!
The thing is becoming a mother is one of the hardest transitions you'll have to make. Everything in your life ill change whether you like it or not, though we are led to believe that it won’t. Pretending they won’t and that giving birth is just a quick pit stop along the way and you’ll snap right back to your pre-baby life is unrealistic and damaging. Nothing in a woman’s life will remain untouched by motherhood, despite what we are led to believe. Pretending otherwise leads mothers to try and meet unrealistic standards. It fuels anxiety, stress, guilt and self-doubt.
Motherhood is not a smooth and blissful ride with every moment to be cherished at all costs and at all times. It is a messy transformation that lasts a lifetime and accepting that will go a long way to understanding why you may feel you are struggling.
Pretending that it is easy, smooth, natural and instinctive, or that it should be, leads mothers to feel there's something wrong with them. You have just brought a human being into the world. That, in and of itself, is huge and tough and that human being will be dependent of on you for years to come, not just for a few weeks. That is also huge…. for years. If things are difficult, if you feel that you aren’t you anymore, if you struggle with any of it, know that there's nothing wrong with you!
Remind yourself of all the things you did well enough (not perfectly, well enough) today, this week, this month. Remind yourself often.
Did someone tell you today but you're doing great?
If not, YOU ARE DOING GREAT!
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