by Patty Haman, MA, NBCC

Once you are home with your first baby, you will be experiencing many situations and internal emotions and reactions that may feel incredibly isolating and stressful. Having a baby can trigger many physical, emotional and mental reactions that are unexpected and hard to understand.

If you have held difficult or traumatic experiences in your body, having a baby can trigger those emotional experiences without necessarily triggering the memory of those events. Hormonal changes add to this onslaught of emotional experience. At the same time, you are flooded with images of what you “should” feel at this time. Love, Light, Nurturing, Service etc…etc…and an unending desire to parent. However, this may not be your experience.

Family issues can surface in intense ways once you have a child. Your feelings about your own childhood and your parents may surface and cause you distress or negative emotions and thoughts. Maybe you thought you had perfect parents and they are not able to be with you or support you during this time. Or, you want to be “as good” as they were, and you feel completely inadequate in your ability. You may be experiencing stressful dreams or memories may be surfacing. You may feel a deep sadness and not be able to identify the reasons. It may be hard, especially in our culture, to ask for nurturance and support from family members. Families are often busy and struggling to make ends meet – making it difficult to be available for the support and care for which a new mother is longing.

We have become increasingly isolated from each other in our homes. Work schedules, technology, and proximity all create problems for receiving and sharing the necessary support. Sometimes we need face to face contact. Learning to relax our bodies and to take very good care of ourselves while we are caring for our baby has to be a priority. Allowing our feelings to flow and release from the body can be very helpful in allowing us to relax and to release tension and tears.

Tears are a discharge for the body. Tears release tension. The important part of releasing emotion is to have a mental dialogue that is supportive, loving and nurturing. This usually involves some retraining. We do not receive much assistance in childhood regarding how to think. We grow up memorizing school material and not learning much about healthy living. When we have a child, the stress is incredible.. It is important to remember that stress is created by wonderful experiences as well as traumatic ones. The stress is in the learning curve we are experiencing.

We can lack the necessary energy and stamina to reach out when this feels hard. Lack of sleep, and stress create a feeling of inability to actually go out of the house and seek support. When experiencing yourself as falling in terms of your emotions and thoughts, and your physical energy it is important to immediately implement a plan of self support and assistance.

  • #1. Practice Deep Breathing
  • #2. Do simple exercises and stretching daily.
  • #3. Change your diet to whole foods – reduce consumption of packaged food
  • #4. Take walks
  • #5. Write a simple inner dialogue on note cards and practice the script. An example is: “I love you. I am here for you. I am your best friend. We will get through this. I can reach out. I can get the love and support I need.”

Vulnerability is not easy. We do not learn the language of vulnerability and usually we have developed a shell around us energetically that blocks vulnerability. We do not learn to communicate in a way that allows vulnerability. Understanding that it is okay to need support and to communicate this. To allow ourselves to receive and not feel shame or that there is something “wrong” if we need support.

If done early in the process, you can return to a stable, positive experience where you have gained physically, mentally, and emotionally. For some, this equates with a deeply spiritual unfolding in maturity. If enough support, nurturance and communication is not received early in the change process, depression and anxiety can increase to levels that may seriously impact your daily experience.

If you feel this is your experience it is important to seek assistance. This can be very helpful to reduce those kinds of “symptoms” and to increase the amount of love and pleasure you can have with your new family.

Patricia Haman, MA, NBCC has been a therapist, teacher, and Life Coach for 40 years. She is available for classes, groups and individual sessions at The Birth Center.