Struggling with Low Self-Esteem Postpartum
Having a child is one of life’s most incredible experiences. It is also one of the most challenging situations that come with mood swings and psychological changes.
If you’re a new mother who has been experiencing low self-esteem, you’re not alone. A group of researchers recently took a look at why new mothers experience low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with their romantic relationships.
Analyzing data from over 80,000 Norwegian mothers, the researchers uncovered some significant patterns that represented how pregnancy and motherhood changes a woman’s attitude about herself and her partner.
The Self-Esteem Roller Coaster Ride
The study found that women’s self-esteem comes and goes. During pregnancy, a woman may experience a dip in her self-esteem. However, once the baby is born, her self-esteem begins to rise again. But only for a short time, then it dips again, only this time the dip is more gradual but prolonged.
Relationships Take a Hit as Well
New mothers don’t seem to be excited by their romantic relationships either! The researchers found that during pregnancy, first-time mothers tend to be very satisfied with their romantic relationships. However, once the baby is born, these same mothers experience a gradual decline in relationship satisfaction over the next few years.
The pattern is fairly similar for mothers having their second, third or fourth child. Though a bit less pronounced than new mothers, experienced moms gradually become less and less satisfied with their relationships once the baby is born.
The biggest takeaway from the study is that self-esteem and relationship satisfaction are definitely linked. While the researchers did not uncover exact mechanisms for these mental health changes, we can safely surmise a fluctuation in hormones and a big lack of quality sleep most likely contribute.
Having said that, motherhood is wonderful and challenging and I want to provide you with a few suggestions for how to handle low self-esteem and relationship dissatisfaction.
Here are some things you can do:
Have Realistic Expectations
New mothers have an idea of what motherhood will be like. Many of these ideas are informed by Hollywood and perfect Instagram moments. The reality is, motherhood can be very difficult and challenging for the first few weeks or months. You are learning the uniqueness of your new little one and adjusting to their own unique routine. There may be feeding difficulties, medical needs, or other challenges that arise. It will take some time to settle in to this new way of life. There are many moments to rejoice over and many wonderful memories will be captured, but the main thing is to adjust your expectations to include the knowledge that there are difficulties and challenges amidst the wonderful and beautiful moments.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Mothers
Nothing impacts our self-esteem quite like unfair comparisons. If you’re a first time mother, it is hardly fair to compare yourself to someone who’s been mothering for awhile. Be gracious and compassionate to yourself – believing that you have what it takes and can access resources to find out any answers to the questions you may have. Though it might feel scary at first, you’ve got this!
Consider Couples Counselling
If your relationship has been impacted, it’s important that you and your partner consider how you can reconnect. This is sometimes easier said than done, and so sometimes seeking the guidance of a therapist is a good way to heal the relationship.
A therapist can help the two of you communicate respectfully and effectively, something that’s not always easy when you’re lacking sleep!
If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.