Congratulations! You’ve made it through 9-ish long months of planning and decorating, crazy cravings and frequent doctors visits, baby showers and unpredictable mood swings. You survived the journey through labor and delivery. Now, your perfect new arrival fills your heart with love and your life with meaning. Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth child, you can’t help but marvel at your baby’s every movement, coo and milestone.
For the lucky among us, the picture I paint may be pretty spot on. For the rest of us, there may have been a few unexpected feelings and experiences mixed in there as well. As many as 30% of new mothers deal with some degree of post-partum depression or post-partum anxiety. Though we all do our best to prepare for the major transition to parenthood, many among us may not plan for four major losses that are likely come along with the joy of gaining a new family member.
Well-meaning moms, trying to do too much, may be at risk for anxiety and depression. Therapist, Julie Hanks, says intense, overly involved parenting can backfire. She has tips to help moms lighten up and live happy.
There is a paradox when it comes to parenting. Parenting is considered one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in life, yet it is also linked with increased stress, unhappiness, and depression. A recent study published in The Journal of Child and Family Studies suggests that it is the level of intensity with which you parent, not simply being a parent that leads to more stress, less life satisfaction, and more depression. In this study, 5 “intense mothering beliefs” were identified and correlated with unhappiness for moms with young children. Ironically, many of these intense beliefs are how we currently define “good mothering.” This research suggests that moderation in parenting is needed, even when it comes to being a mom.