Society (and let's be honest...Instagram and Pinterest) does not show grief after birth as being a normal part of the process after having a baby. They often only portray becoming a mother as a blissful, idyllic, and beautiful state. The image of becoming a mother shows only of joy, holding a peaceful baby (surrounded in earth tones for that epic aesthetic) and a true "moment of arrival".
And yes, motherhood is a dream come true and something many yearn for, the transition into this world is anything but dreamy and blissful.
When the shock of the ever-shifting and demanding reality of motherhood hits, it can thrust moms into feelings of grief after birth, depression, anger, sadness, anxiety, isolation, and confusion, topped with a heaping spoonful of guilt. You may feel you want to head for the hills. You may wonder if you are a good enough mother. And then comes guilt for thinking such things.
You might ask yourself:
“Is this really my life now?”
“Will I ever feel like myself again?”
“How can I be a mom and not lose myself?”
“I miss the life I had before having a baby.”
These are common thoughts moms will think over and over in their heads silently and alone. They can spiral further into the darkness, wondering:
“Is this even okay to feel these things? Is it normal?”
"A good mom would never feel these things. Maybe I wasn't cut out for this."
“Are other moms struggling with the same things?”
The answer is yes! Sometimes, grieving the loss of your identity is part of the process during motherhood. You are not alone.
Having a baby brings a cycle of loss, a reality that is rarely honored in our Western culture.
We are here to say “We see you, mama.” Yes, you have full permission to grieve! Grieving the loss of identity in motherhood is absolutely a rite of passage. These feelings are valid. You don’t have to have singularly blissful feelings. Healing is not always linear but can usually start with an acknowledgment of what things have changed.
You get to grieve the loss of:
Control. Babies are life’s biggest teacher in losing all control and it can feel terrible.
Sleep. What’s that?! I barely can remember what real sleep is.
A Spotless Home. SO MUCH STUFF EVERYWHERE.
My Body. I don't even recognize this new body. Will I ever fit into those jeans again?
My Social Life. Regular girl's nights out, cocktails, date nights out and about.
Freedom. The person who did spontaneous things. I could do whatever, whenever I wanted.
Clarity. The vision I had for my life.
My Brain. Lively adult dialogue feels so far away. I feel dulled and only think of the next feeding.
My Sex Life. It’s true. Lots of changes here.
Lazy Days. Remember those?
Work Out Days. Getting the yoga pants may be the win for the day.
Solitude. What was peeing alone like? When can I read a book?
Everything has shifted, but you are just as you should be.
Grief after birth is perfectly normal AND healthy, but the key is to create a space to witness and fully feel it all.
- Allow yourself ample alone time with no baby, no partner, and let the river of tears flow.
- Go for a walk on your own and physically say all the taboo things you think you shouldn’t.
- Journal your deepest thoughts, knowing it’s safe to say whatever you want here. Being honest with a pen releases you from holding it in your body.
- Grab a pillow and belt a primal scream from deep within your belly.
- Go deeper than the physical aspects of what you have lost and feel it fully in your body.
- Share freely what you are feeling...with only the right people. Safe people would be professionals such as therapists, life coaches, postpartum doulas and really trusted friends.
You can do this, and there is light at the end of the tunnel of grief after birth.
Yes, you are a mother now, AND a beautiful multifaceted human that slowly but surely gets to REDISCOVER ALL ASPECTS of who you are. Ask yourself, what makes you feel like you? What ignites your inner flame (outside of motherhood)?
Find some time to do something that sparks joy
- Have a coffee or a wine date with a friend while your mom watches the baby.
- Go for a hike and get out in nature once a month. If you go with your baby, have your partner carry the baby on their back, so you can pick up pinecones and flowers. (Try Hikeitbaby.com for baby-friendly hikes.)
- Let the dirty clothes stack up a bit and crawl under a blanket for a needed nap instead.
- Explore some mom/baby fitness so you can move and be social (Free online classes here)
- Bring on a postpartum doula to your team to help lift the load and support YOU while everyone else cares about the baby.
- Prioritize your mental health by keeping up in therapy....or better yet, START therapy.
- Enlist support a moms group, play dates, a babysitter, or a life or health coach (Look into Kari Azuma on Facebook. She’s great!)
Self-care may feel like a difficult task at first.
You have to figure out where any old pieces of you may still fit, then build new pieces and learn to how to fit into #momlife. It's important to talk to your partner about your feelings. Be honest and clear on what you need as a new mom to prioritize your caring for yourself.
Create time in your schedule that you can walk away and focus on YOU. Ask for help when you need it. If you don't have willing family members, Postpartum Doulas are real-life helpers who can jump in and help at any time, come without judgment and truly know how hard motherhood is!
Somewhere underneath the laundry piles, tears, and spilled milk, there is a new balance.
We promise. It just might take some time to find it. You are NOT the only person feeling this grief. And remember, it’s not going to always feel like balance. It will take a village. Let go of the comparison from old to new life. Don’t hang on to life looking a certain way.
Embrace this new version of yourself and grieve what is changed. Let go of the need to care for everyone else and put YOU first. Doula philosophy says that when Mama is nurtured, the better she can care for baby. Put you first! Grief after birth is normal, and you are worth it to find a way through. And you will.
Does your postpartum body need support and some TLC? Give daily love to your core with our Toning Tummy Balm.
In need of an increased milk supply? Add our Let It Flow Lactation Tincture to your daily routine to help increase milk production.
If local to the Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR areas and interested in having a Postpartum Doula request a FREE DOULA CONSULT HERE.