Maternal Mental Health, Pregnancy & Motherhood – You Are Enough!
Comparison is an innate human trait with a dual purpose: we use it to evaluate ourselves and also to make judgements about others – whether consciously or not.
During pregnancy, and as we enter new motherhood, we often find that we compare ourselves to others: our physical appearance, our approach to parenting, our children and their behaviour, our marriages, relationships and homes, our personal accomplishments and whether or not we plan to return to work. The list is endless. Not all comparison is unhealthy, of course. We can use comparison positively to inspire us and enable us to make aspirations and goals for the future. The difficulty is when comparison becomes all-consuming, affecting all aspects of our lives, leaving us feeling less confident in ourselves or our abilities as mothers.
Naturally, other mums-to-be and new mums become our frame of reference during pregnancy and motherhood: we compare pregnancy-related aches and pains, our birthing preferences and birth stories, how our infants are developing, their milestones, and how much they’re sleeping (or not!). Negative comparison can lead to feelings that you’re not enough and we can become defensive around our choices, feelings and lifestyles.
What you need to know is that YOU ARE ENOUGH and YOUR BABY LOVES YOU.
Judging ourselves against a filtered reality or partial truth isn’t helpful – especially in this time of isolation when social media use is increasing and, generally, only our best selves will make it on to our news feed. Rarely do we share the results of a sleepless night, the 4-minute noodles we’re eating for lunch (again!), the re-heated cup of coffee or the crumbs on the kitchen floor.
Whilst we are embracing this significant time in our lives, we should remember that our individual circumstances are different. Comparing ourselves against others – especially against the snippets of their lives that they have chosen to share - can be counterproductive and can impact negatively on our mental health.
If you find yourself worrying about how you compare to others, here are some ideas to try and manage your mothering mindset:
• Reduce time on social media (or filter your feed and unfollow unhelpful content);
• Find support and friendship in those who build you up and respect each other without judgement;
• Practice gratitude and look for an alternative perspective (i.e. focus on what you have, not what you don’t!);
• Counteract the negativity by offering loving support to others;
• Talk to yourself the way you would a close friend; and
• Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post. For further information, support and inspiration check ou the following: