"Maternal bliss" is a myth. Not that mothers are never happy or that there are no good times, but the idea that motherhood is a "natural state" for everyone isn't real. Indeed, this belief has negatively affected many women and their families.
Having a child is a huge change. In addition, compared to previous family life, there is a child who is totally dependent on his parents and who requires almost constant attention, day and night. All this requires sacrifices especially to a woman's daily concentration.
Additionally, many new mothers struggle with what it means to return to work after having a child and in many cases finances are tight. Then there are the hormonal changes that occur with childbirth and breastfeeding. All of this often causes a great deal of tension in women's meaningful relationships, just as they have to adjust to the new life.
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A new way of thinking about motherhood
When new mothers believe they are going into a state of happiness once their baby is born and then that doesn't happen, they start wondering what's wrong with them.
Psychologist and blogger Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, wrote an article for WebMd magazine on Alexandra Sacks, a psychiatrist who works with pregnant women and new mothers, who said she has met hundreds of women with these concerns.
In his short video Ted Talk, Sacks says women can benefit from thinking of motherhood as a phase of transition very similar to adolescence, which she herself calls "matrescence".
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What does it mean to think of motherhood as a transition phase?
The identities of new mothers are in flux as women experience various hormonal and bodily changes. In particular, Dr. Sacks talks about the 'push and pull' that new mothers often experience after giving birth: they have an increase in the hormone "oxytocin" which increases the connection they feel with their baby, attracting a lot of their attention to him.
At the same time, however, they are aware of the aspects of themselves that they are losing as they remember their identity in relation to various aspects of their previous life (work, relationships and hobbies). In addition, they are also aware of their physical needs, such as sex, food and sleep. So, they get into a kind of emotional "tug-of-war". But this is not "postpartum depression" nor is it another disease. It is a natural part of the transition to motherhood.
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Maternity, a "multi-dimensional" phase
It is therefore impossible to prepare adequately for the demands of motherhood, which are exhausting. With it comes the loss of personal freedom. So, know that new mothers need support, if only to give them some respite or confirmation that their experiences are normal. Many feel isolated because their connection with their child is very strong and requires a lot of attention: this pays off the relationships with other mothers who live the same situation are invaluable.
Like any other period in life, motherhood is a "multi-dimensional" phase, with some pleasant parts and some more difficult ones (and some are both). One does not become a mother automatically, but rather a process. Dr Sacks said that "when a baby is born, a mother is born too." Nothing more true.
As a result, psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps urges moms to be kind to themselves. After all, birth is wonderful, but it can also be confusing and so overwhelming as to be shocking.
But of course, if after considering the natural transition to motherhood, you are still worried about the idea that you may have postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder, talk to your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
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Postpartum depression: 12 dangerous myths to dispelgo to the gallery
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