New moms need a lot of support, and “support” is defined differently by everyone. Before you starting making attempts to “support” a new mom, make sure you know what you’re doing, what you are offering, and that the new mom actually wants it. The last thing you want is to add stress to a new mom who is already dealing with so many new challenges in her new role.
For starters, new moms are dealing with a lot of inner conflicts, even if they don’t tell you about it. I remember looking at myself in the mirror after my child was born in partial disgust at who I had become. I wasn’t sure at the beginning whether I was suffering from some form of hormonal imbalance, post-partum depression, the endless confinement period or just a self-image issue. It was only 12 months ago that I had solid abs and a very nice tush, and was able to do 6 hours of intensive yoga a day in Thailand! Who was that woman staring back at me in the mirror? There were days where I felt like a cow. Literally!
Secondly, many new moms are battling the dilemma of whether or not they should go back to work. Not everyone has the skills to be a full-time mom, and not everyone wants to give up a career that they may have spent years to build. I knew I definitely felt that way. I had spent so much of my early life striving to establish myself, building a successful corporate career, and more specifically ensuring that I didn’t need to rely on someone else, yet motherhood challenged all of the things that I had accomplished. I found myself screaming inside for help – yet the last thing I wanted was more “advice” and “help” from the dad’s family or my own. Was I feeling torn? Hell ya! To add to the load, when I went back to work after maternity leave my child decided to refuse the bottle. He only wanted me! So I spent my lunch break commuting home for a quick feed for several months.
Thirdly, sleep deprivation makes everyone cranky. So don’t test a new mom’s patience! As for the toddler years…that was another very fun chapter! So yes, I only have one child…and I am quite happy with that.
Amidst all the lessons learned over the course of those early years of parenting, perhaps the most important one is the importance of clear communication. Even those of us who believe we’ve mastered the art of communication may find that parenting brings us to new heights! You see, others respond to us through their own perceptions of what we need. Some people are just incapable of respecting a new mom’s view because they feel they are more “experienced” in life than we are. Parenting takes us to a whole new level of human interactions and the more refined we are at communication, (hopefully) the easier it gets.
Had there been more resources available, and had I had more time to develop myself, I probably would have benefited from getting a better grip on my emotions as opposed to trying to solve the problems while already in a hot-headed state. The frustrations of parenting that took me by surprise revealed an area where I needed to work on myself. While meditation always helped me to keep my cool in the past, I noticed that having a newborn was different. My emotions were still easily triggered by the slightest remark about my child or my parenting style by strangers and family alike. Despite my over 200hours of yoga teacher training, it was obvious that mastering asanas were easier than mastering emotions. My suggestion next time you meet a new-mom-friend, before you go and “help” her by offering advice and buying extra diapers, you may want to ask how she is doing emotionally first!
Writer, Speaker and Lifestyle Coach