There’s nothing quite like the experience of becoming a parent. Despite its universal nature, it’s often depicted in an incredibly one-sided way.
Pregnancy and new parenthood are often painted as an idyllic time of joy, excitement, and bliss. While it’s true that becoming a parent is a beautiful time filled with many highs, it’s essential to acknowledge that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s a wild ride filled with a wide range of emotions from pure love to complete overwhelm and everything in between. Even the strongest, most resilient people sometimes find themselves feeling confused and burnt out at times.
Let’s be honest, the reality of this phase is far more complex than the Hallmark moments so often portrayed in our society. A more accurate depiction of this life-altering transition period is that of an emotional rollercoaster. And we’re always down to have a candid conversation about the realities of early parenthood.
There’s arguably nothing sweeter than the “highs” of becoming a parent. They can be so precious, especially if you’re someone who has looked forward to these moments your whole life. The anticipation of sharing your big news, feeling your baby move for the first time, seeing their first smiles, hearing those first giggles, and the pride you feel watching your baby hit each new milestone. For many new parents, these moments are nothing short of magical.
There are also the less talked about gritty, messy, not-so-picture-perfect aspects, which can trigger equally intense emotions. The bone-deep exhaustion, unexpected body changes, feelings of isolation, and unmet expectations. Not to mention the (sometimes–all-consuming) worries, stress, and anxieties. If you aren’t expecting them, these heavier feelings can be a particularly heavy load to carry.
But here’s the thing: the lows are just as normal as the highs and are an integral part of the human experience. In fact, when handled well, our negative emotions can positively impact our overall well-being. It all boils down to our expectations, how we cope, and the narrative we tell ourselves.
Here’s where a lot of us stumble. Those Pinterest-perfect, Instagram images of parenthood often perpetuate common detrimental myths and unrealistic expectations for expecting parents. Then, when our reality doesn’t quite match up, we’re left grappling with feelings of disappointment, frustration, guilt, and sometimes even grief. This mismatch can make early parenthood harder and less enjoyable, and in some cases, it can also lead to more serious conditions like perinatal anxiety or depression.
These myths often sound like…
But here’s the truth…
As you navigate this emotional rollercoaster ride, be mindful of your inner dialogues and your mental well-being.
Here are a few examples of what real self-care looks like during this time:
Remember, in the rollercoaster of parenthood, every climb, dip, twist, and turn is a part of your unique journey. Each moment, whether high or low, contributes to your growth as a parent. So buckle up, hold tight, and try your best to enjoy this wild ride.
It’s important to remember, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. Looking for support? Join our next virtual small group coaching session. With expert guidance, a supportive community, and loads of practical advice, we promise you a safe, non-judgmental space to feel empowered, seen, and supported throughout your journey. Click here to learn more. We can’t wait to meet you!
Taking care of your mental health is crucial during this journey. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) are the number one complication of pregnancy and birth, and yet, they’re often dismissed as ‘normal’ parenthood adjustments. But for 1 in 7 birthing parents (1 in 3 women of color) and 1 in 10 dads/partners, they’re a bigger issue.
PMADs are real, they’re treatable, and you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you’re struggling to cope with the highs and lows of pregnancy and early parenthood, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help. Research shows early intervention can lead to better outcomes for you and your baby. You deserve to truly enjoy this special time in your life.
Go to Postpartum.net for more resources, a directory of specialized perinatal mental health professionals in your area, and more information about PMADs.
Richelle’s passion is supporting growing families through the unpredictable and transformative journey of pregnancy and the first years of parenthood. In 2019, she set out with a vision to create a modern-day parenting village: From Pregnant to Parent. In addition to being our founder, she is a certified doula, childbirth and lactation educator, sleep coach, and RETAIN parental leave coach. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kiddos around their home in Marin County (San Francisco Bay Area).
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