When you become a new mum, your self confidence and self esteem can quickly take a dive, particularly when things don’t go quite as well as planned. One of the major issues new mums face is shifting from being in control of your child during pregnancy to feeling completely lost as your child begins to develop and grow into this new life. It’s completely normal and natural but it’s not really talked about..
When things such as feeding and sleep do not go well, new mums often begin to question their parenting methods and begin to assume they must be doing something wrong. Add to this the opinions of friends, other mothers, family members and health professionals, it’s no wonder so many new mums begin to feel like failures.
So what can you do if you begin to feel like a failure, or begin to self criticise yourself?
Reduce the pressure you are placing on yourself!
One of the first big mistakes new mums make is to stop listening to their instincts and to begin listening instead to everyone else’s advice and opinion on how best to parent their new baby. As a new mum, it’s very easy to begin to doubt yourself when things you try (like breastfeeding or placing a baby in a swaddle to sleep) simply do not work, particularly when you have been told by experts that these are the best ways to feed or get your baby to sleep.
Each baby is different and also has a mind of his/her own. For example some babies will easily soothe, whilst other will not. Other babies will sleep for 2-3 hour stretches at a time, whilst others will only power nap for 30 minutes at a time. If you begin to place too much pressure on yourself to be perfect, you will quickly begin to start feeling overwhelmed and self criticism will begin to seep into your mindset and quickly reduce your self confidence. So, the key is to have a parenting plan (things you and your partner agree on) and then to just go with the flow. Sometimes your parenting style will work wonders, but other times it won’t (like if your baby is feeling overtired or unwell). These are the times to take a break and just try something new when you are feeling more calm and rational.
If you begin you hear yourself speaking negatively about your parenting style, try to catch yourself in the moment and refrase your words. If you say things like “I’m never going to get my baby to sleep”, alter this to “Every baby eventually sleeps”. Reducing negative self talk will go a long way towards boosting your confidence and ensuring you maintain a healthy self esteem throughout motherhood.
This is only the beginning I’m afraid, as a parent you will always feel some kind of guilt, pressure or judgement which slowly eats away at your confidence..
I discovered early on in my parenting journey, that I had to learn to be a confident parent — by myself — in amongst the noise of the parenting landscape. I say learn because, although I’ve always had a strong sense of self, I don’t see myself as a naturally confident person. I over-think and second guess myself. I don’t like being the centre of attention. I have my own thoughts and ideas, but I’m not a leader. And fearing failure is often a stumbling block for me.
My journey to become a more confident parent is not about reaching the made-it mark, neither is it about constantly making the right choices or having all the answers. Rather, it’s a process; a journey; an acceptance.
Some of the mums I’ve met and some of the ones I know well have slowly built their confidence back up after having a baby.. sometimes it takes a few months, sometimes a year or more. I don’t know one woman that hasn’t lost their confidence.. they love their new baby so much and forget how to love themselves.
Sometimes their confidence grows and comes back from within, sometimes it with help from their partner and family and sometimes they just can’t seem to get it back, they feel different, they don’t feel good..
I’m going to be focusing on confidence over the next few weeks because it’s something I feel very passionate about – confidence is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets!
I’d really love to chat to anyone that feels like this right now or has story to share and please get in touch if you have any questions!