Many new parents especially mothers experience sadness, disappointment and frustration when the realities of parenthood don’t meet the unrealistic expectations they had of themselves, their partners and their experiences.
Listed below are some common myths of motherhood, it can be similar for fathers.
- Motherhood is a woman’s ultimate fulfillment
- A woman instantly feels love for her baby
- A woman will instinctively know how to mother
- A mother can easily interpret her baby’s cries
- Motherhood is a time of sublime contentment and joy
- Motherhood is romantic
- A mother is selfish if she expresses her own needs
- If a mother does not bond with her baby straight away, there is something wrong with her and the baby will suffer long term psychological damage
- Mothers must cope with the demands they face and it is not OK to ask for help
- A good mother is full time and totally available to her children
A more realistic set of beliefs might include:
- Motherhood is a difficult but rewarding job that involves long hours with little respite
- A mother may feel love for her baby as soon as it is born, but this ‘falling in love’ is more likely to occur over time as she gets to know her baby
- Motherhood is not merely instinctive. A woman has to learn to be a mother and this takes time and practice.
- It is OK for a mother to make mistakes
- A mother will learn to interpret most of her baby’s cries over time, but it is not automatic
- It may take weeks or even months for a mother to bond with her baby
- Babies take up most of their mother’s time with its needs
- A mother must express her own needs and learn to nurture herself to be able to nurture her family
- A mother needs to keep alive her own dreams for herself and long term plans for her future
- It is OK for a mother to ask for help and to share the care of her baby – it takes a village to raise a child
(Postnatal Depression families in turmoil by Lara Bishop)