Updated: Apr 26
20% of new mothers experience symptoms of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). That means at least 17 million American mothers are really suffering. Why?
In a world where the developmental phase of matrescence is not recognized and respected, mothers don’t get the attuned, comprehensive care they actually require. They often come out of the birthing gates depleted and under-resourced, and then sadly miss out on the celebration of themselves as matrescent—as brand new moms being birthed right alongside their babies. Mothers are stripped of the soulfulness and sisterhood that is their birthright and instead find themselves in competitive mommy wars, on the giving and receiving end of “mom-shaming”, swimming in a sea of mom-guilt, managing auto-immune diseases, all while helicopter parenting and/or sinking into various forms of self-harm, looking with longing for a moment’s comfort, validation and safety.
10 Paths to Soulfulness and Sisterhood for New Moms
Find your people! Mothering is hard and we are not meant to do it alone. It *does* take a village! Find your village and commiserate and celebrate! Find people who normalize and validate your experience. It's amazing how being seen and understood accurately restores our wellbeing.
Do things that make you feel good. You don't need to spend any money. Make a list, put it on your fridge or your bathroom mirror and when you feel down, pick one and do it.
Get outside. Remind yourself that you are part of something greater. Nature gives us perspective. Hugging trees and smelling flowers helps.
Nourish yourself with healthy food. Sometimes this means cooking, other times it means asking for someone to bring you something.
Get creative. Do you enjoy cooking? Painting? Singing? Knitting? Writing? Anything that gets your creative juices flowing can remind you of who you were (and still are!) before having a baby.
Get quiet. This can be meditation or simply just turning off all your screens. Allow your thoughts to come and go like clouds in the sky. If "stuff" comes up, that's not a problem. See #9.
Journal. Getting the thoughts outside of your body can free up some space for you to feel some calm. You can even write down the things you miss about the way things were pre-baby. There's no shame in feeling a sense of loss.
Honor your grief. You are going through a massive transition in your life, and with all transitions comes loss. Talk about it with others (see #1!). Guaranteed you're not alone.
Start cultivating Self-Compassion. A little kindness towards yourself goes a long way. Another way to look at this is giving space to the parts of you that feel angry, sad, lonely, anxious or anything else. Instead of berating yourself for feeling those ways, see if you can open to the idea that they are they for a reason. Let yourself explore that idea, with a trusted friend or a therapist.
Share your story with others, as a way of helping them along. Talking about our pain (when we feel safe to do so) can take the shame and the stigma out of it and contribute to a culture of truth-telling and compassion.
At FTW, we bring Internal Family Systems into our work with new moms; it is the backbone of our nonpathologizing, compassionate and empowering way of working with the dramatic developmental dynamics of matrescence as well as the symptoms of PMADs. We understand that there is a wild reconfiguration of women’s internal worlds, otherwise known as their parts, when they transition into motherhood. That wild reconfiguration leads to new vulnerabilities that require, but often don’t receive, more attuned, responsive care. Our Survival Kit for New Moms helps guide new families through a planning process to support the huge transition with wisdom and tenderness.
Please reach out if you need more information or care. You deserve to feel safe and loved.
Written by Jessica Sorci, LMFT, PMH-C and Rebecca Geshuri, LMFT, PMH-C