by Erin Newton, LCPC
Here I am singing my song again! The song about how much moms matter and how much they deserve support and love. Just this week I had a mom in my life tell me that she pours everything into her children. She pours so much in fact, that she feels guilty doing anything for herself. That once she had kids, they became not just the priority, but the EVERYTHING. She got lost. She wants to take time for herself, knows that she NEEDS to, but the guilt that she feels when she tries is at times overwhelming.
Today, I googled “quotes about why moms matter” to add to this article and do you know what I got? A bunch of quotes about all the things that moms do for us and how that is why they matter. I bristled at that, friends. And why? Because it isn’t true. If you only have worth as a mother because of what you can do for your kids, what happens when your kids move out? What happens if you’re sick or hurt or just plain exhausted and CAN’T for the moment? Do you lose your worth? Is it just gone?
The answer is no. I submit to you that you have worth just by your mere existence. You matter without doing a load of laundry, without washing one dish, without staying up all night with your babies. Just as you are. Just you.
When we talk about birth, we tend to focus so much on the needs of the baby, but a healthy baby and mom is about more than just survival, more than just coming out of the experience alive. During her birth experience, moms need to feel safe, supported, respected, and able to ask questions. We know from research that when mothers feel this way, they are more likely to go into motherhood feeling capable, increasingly connected to their partner, and more securely bonded to their baby.
By contrast, when mothers feel powerless, confused, fearful, and abandoned during their experience, they often go into motherhood with a lack of confidence in their abilities as a mother, feelings of anger, failure, and difficulty bonding or even feeling deep love for their baby. Here, just like everywhere, moms’ needs are so important, not just for her but for her children too.
Maybe you are feeling some of those feelings right now, but you’ve got my most hated phrase in your head – “at least the baby is healthy.” Healthy babies are great! Everyone wants a healthy baby. But your feelings matter too. How you felt during your experience matters. How you feel now, as you process that experience and adjust and adapt to becoming a mother, matters. You can be both grateful for your baby and sad for what has happened to you. You are capable of holding both things.
Let’s be real – moms suck at self care. Oh the guilt that comes from doing something just for ourselves, am I right? And even when we decide to take the time and try, all the “I should’s…” sneak in and ruin it. I should be cleaning up, I should be folding the laundry, I should be playing with my kids. And if we don’t have a supportive partner to try to drown out those shoulds – forget about it. It’s no wonder moms suck at self care – you have to know you matter to know taking care of yourself is important.
You matter. You are important. You have significance – not just for what you can do for others, but simply for who you are. Let yourself acknowledge that those feelings matter and that if you are struggling you deserve to get help. You deserve to feel better. You deserve to put yourself first and do what you need to in order to live the best life you can – not just as a mother, but as a human. Reaching out is scary, vulnerability is not comfortable, but the rewards are great.
If you are struggling with a traumatic birth experience, the REBIRTH therapy group could be the place for you! The REBIRTH group is a birth trauma group designed to help facilitate a conversation about birth trauma, postpartum depression (PPD), and postpartum anxiety by exploring topics such as anger, depression, isolation, guilt, and shame. The ideal audience for this group includes mothers who feel they have experienced trauma and/or who feel that they exhibit signs of PPD or postpartum anxiety as a result of their birth experience.
Through a blend of psychoeduation, mindfullness exercises, journaling, experiential exercises and talk therapy within the group, group members can begin the healing process of their traumatic birth experiences. The Rebirth group is led by Erin Newton, a licensed clinical counselor, a survivor of birth trauma, and a candidate for PMH-C certification, a standardization of training and experience for perinatal mental health specialists. The group meets virtually on Tuesdays from 7:00 – 8:30 and begins February 2nd. The group will run for ten weeks, ending on Tuesday, April 6th. Contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-689-8130 to register.