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Bump & Beyond | Mom Guilt

Bump & Beyond | Mom Guilt

During your pregnancy you learn a lot about delivery and about what to expect when you bring your baby home. But if you are on the other side of pregnancy, you may feel like I did, and feel like there were a lot of things you weren’t ready for. For me, one thing that I have had to conquer as a new parent and still work on to this day is the feeling of mom guilt.

So, what is mom guilt? Mom guilt is the name given to the feelings of guilt concerning the care of children. It stems from the unrealistic idea of being the “Perfect parent”. Some of you may know from a previous blog post (Read Sarah's experiences with Postpartum Depression) or if you attend the childbirth classes that I host at Mobile Infirmary, that I have experienced post-partum anxiety and depression. Mom guilt certainly added to my feelings. But regardless of your postpartum experience, I find that mom guilt seems to be a pretty common experience among new parents. Experienced parents also have these kinds of feelings!

I have noticed that triggers for mom guilt can vary from day to day. One example is when I would go to the pediatrician for my baby's milestone appointments. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the pediatrician will commonly give you a questionnaire that asks about what kinds of things your baby is doing such as emotional development, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills. I would look at the questions and beam with pride when I could put the check in the box. But, on some of the other questions I couldn’t check the box yet. I would be filled with guilt. “Am I doing something wrong?” “Why isn’t she doing that yet?” These questions would have my mind racing until they came to do the exam. Even when I would leave with a good report and new things to try for her growth, I would still leave feeling like I’m not doing enough.

That’s just one example of feeling mom guilt but in reality, as a parent, the triggers for these feelings are everywhere. You may be out with a good friend when they bring up that their nephew was walking already and ask “Why isn’t your child walking yet?”. Or you may scroll past a TikTok account of a pediatric dietician and wonder how they got their kid to eat so well. You may see a Facebook post of a friend taking their child out for a fun outing and feel guilty about the amount of time you can spend with your children. The list goes on and on! So, what do we do about this?

If you have developmental concerns for your child, make an appointment and discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. They are experts in those milestones and can help guide you. Feeling guilty or worried is not a bad thing. If we didn’t feel guilt sometimes who knows how we would be as parents or even as people.

Something I find helpful is to identify that voice in your head as negative. Negative thoughts are like ants. If you don’t deal with them they can build up and work together to be a bigger problem. Once you get better at recognizing the negative thoughts it becomes easier to deal with them as they come up. It can also be helpful to spend some time reflecting on your perspective. For me, I had a moment when my daughter and I were hanging out in the living room and playing. We had the TV on and Bluey was playing. The episode “Baby Race” was on and it caught my attention when they started talking about learning to walk. My daughter was not walking yet so I had a lot of the same feelings that mom had. If you haven’t seen it I recommend watching the episode. It helped me change my perspective on the pressure I was putting on myself as a parent. But grab the tissues if you do watch it, I still cry every time. I learned that it’s not race. As long as your children are happy, healthy, and safe take the pace that is right for your family and your child.

Don’t be hard on yourself. As a parent, I can tell you we are not perfect. We are all just trying our best to raise our kids. It can be easy to think we have it all figured out when you catch up on social media. You have to remember that people share a snapshot of the happy and exciting things in their lives. But we ALL have our struggles, and parenting fails. Don’t let mom guilt and the dangers of comparison ruin quality time with your family. Enjoy the journey on the way to the destination.

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