The Short of It
A new survey has found that 53 percent of first-time parents faced issues they felt were too personal to tell anyone. It certainly doesn't help that veteran parents tend to only post the "good stuff" on social media, which can make new parents feel like they're doing something wrong when they face every day struggles.
The online survey of 1,011 expecting or new parents, conducted by Healthdirect Australia, found that expectant moms' top concerns were something being "wrong" with their baby, miscarriage and coping financially. New parents' biggest struggles were their own lack of sleep, helping baby sleep, feeding the baby, recovering from childbirth and taking care of older siblings and the baby.
"This shows that many parents are struggling at one time or another, which could lead to feelings of isolation. Having a baby is a major life change—it can be tough going," said Colin Seery, CEO of Healthdirect Australia. "With a further four in 10 respondents reporting that they felt the need to appear positive and excited about the pregnancy when they felt differently on the inside, it seems that new parents are feeling the pressure to put on a brave face."
"[Social media] makes you feel like you're doing something wrong," mom Ebony Steadman told SheKnows Australia. "You're not about to declare to the world that your baby is doing the opposite [of what other parents are bragging about]; it makes you feel like a failure."
Remember: Just as people only put up selfies when they've done their makeup and blown out their hair, other parents only post photos of their smiling, happy kids, their practically gourmet dinners and videos of their babies hitting milestones early. They're not posting about the turmoil of the baby blues, their breastfeeding struggles, colic or their babies' explosive reflux spit-ups. But, trust me, they're going through tough times just like you and me.
To me, the takeaway is, spend less time on social media and spend more time connecting directly with people who really care about you and your well-being. It took me a relatively long time to learn to ask for help as a new mom, but I eventually did—and I'm so glad.
It's always a good idea to join a new mom support group. Instead of posting on social media, call or text friends who've been through it. But avoid that "perfect" friend who never admits that anything is difficult. Reach out to the friend you know can be a sounding board and can empathize with you. The one who can come over and throw in a load of laundry for you, hold the baby while you shower or make you a mean lasagna without judging you for having messy hair and dirty bottles in the sink.
Being a new mom isn't easy for anyone, and people really do like to help. But they don't always know to offer it, especially if you're giving the impression that everything's great. You need to ask.
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