New mother anxiety can be overwhelming. Not only do you wake up with a body you don’t recognize, a life that is nothing like the one glamorously portrayed in commercials, but you wake up with this tiny human in your home whom you may or may not connect with. Moms who do not feel immediately connected with their new bundles of joy report high levels of anxiety.
Inability to share these feelings is isolating. There may be
reluctance to share with friends lest they be judged, families who
minimize the feelings and spouses who may feel helpless or get their
feelings hurt by the revelation. No matter what the reason, the new mom
feels alone and guilty, and anxious that she is a “bad mother” or that
she will never feel connected to this little person for whom she has
In therapy I attempt to normalize these feelings for the new mother.
We all experience things differently. I do a screening for post partum
mood disorders as well. This is frequently overlooked, and is a simple
assessment to identify areas where the mother needs support. Medication
is not always recommended. Many mothers want to continue nursing, and
medication may compromise this. Nutritional support for the mother can
be just as effective as prescription medication and allow the mother to
continue nursing, which will enhance the bonding experience, and
experience less side effects as well.
Working with the mother to develop bonding by encouraging the mother
to notice the baby’s body language, vocalization cues and eye gaze is
helpful. Once you start breaking down the baby’s attempts to communicate
on a primal level sometimes a mom can step right into her role and be
the mirror her baby needs. Skin to skin contact and staring into the
baby’s eyes helps stimulate oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
An exhausted mom is no help to anyone. A good schedule of self care
activities is a must. Someone to hold the baby while mom takes an
extended bubble bath or long hot shower can make her feel like she has
won the lottery. Activities that stimulate the mother’s creative
potential are helpful. Taking pictures of the baby can help her feel
more connected. Scrapbooking while the baby is sleeping can stimulate
those feelings of attachment as well. A mom must be engaged in
activities that bring her joy. If she is feeling anxious about the baby
usurping her life, then the opportunity to get out for a while during
the baby’s nap may help her feel a little more like herself so that when
she comes home she is better able to bond with her baby.
There are many reasons that a mom may not feel bonded to her baby in
the beginning, some normal, some needing attention. The key is being
aware of your feelings and being able to reach out to someone who will
not judge you and will be able to ascertain whether you need additional
support or not. Know that there are counselors available that can help
you get on your feet and that can work with you to develop that
relationship with your baby you desire.
www.growhealchange.com for more information or call me directly at 770-789-0847, email me at email@example.com or see my personal website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com for more information.