The Mother of all Guilt

pregnant mother

From the moment we start planning to become a mother, we’re made to feel guilty and as the process continues, it only gets worse. It seems as though nothing we do as mothers is good enough; or at the very least it’s “not what I would do”. In just the first 12 months of your baby’s “life”, you’re going to face a barrage of guilt.

Scenario One: We’re going to try!

We’re all sitting around the dinner table, friends and family, having a wonderful time and someone says “we’re going to start trying for a baby!!”  Immediately the grandparents perk up and give hugs, congratulations, etc. The friends and family all have smiles and seem happy. Then the questions / accusations begin.

“What about your job? You worked so hard to get to the position you’re in!”

“You’ll have to move into a bigger house. You can’t have a baby in an apartment.”

And so on.

And there begins the guilt we are made to feel, every step of the way. “Well, maybe I shouldn’t have a child yet because then I’ll be disappointing my boss.” “How am I going to have a baby, without giving up the apartment I worked so hard to pay for?”

I am pregnant

Scenario Two: We’re pregnant!

So you’ve overcome the above guilt and you kept trying; now you’re pregnant! Congratuations. Only now, you have the guilt that comes for the next 40 weeks (give or take).

Firstly, you’re going to feel guilty about being pregnant in the first place; and this is particularly so if you have a family member or friend who is also trying and isn’t pregnant yet. You’ll also feel guilty every time you pass a milestone that someone else close to you didn’t (for example they lost a baby at 12 weeks, 24 weeks, stillbirth).

You’ll feel guilty about what you did before you found out you were pregnant. There might have only been a few weeks, or you might not have found out for months – you’re going to feel guilty about everything you did, ate, saw, listened to… and so on. Did you eat a lot of junk food that weekend? Maybe you went out drinking wine with a few friends… or you might have had a few too many coffees one day because you were so tired (and didn’t yet know why).

If you hadn’t been taking vitamins before you got pregnant, or forgot to take a few – there’s another guilt trip.

If it’s not your first child, you might feel guilty about not being as happy as you were first pregnancy.

And of course, even though it isn’t preventable, you’ll feel guilty every time your hormones come into play… you’ll feel guilty about being cranky, tired, upset, etc. You’ll also feel guilty for neglecting your husband; and turning down invitations to parties and events (even though your feet are the size of elephants and you’re vomiting 10 times a day. Most of all, you will feel guilty for feeling guilty.

I have a baby

Scenario Three: You have a baby!

Should be the most exciting time of your life, but unfortunately for most of us, it’s plagued with guilt. Here are 5 reasons you will feel guilty with a new baby:

  1. Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. We are often made to feel guilty by society in general if we can’t breastfeed. The old adage is “breast is best”, but really – anything that gives your baby nourishment is what’s best! Meanwhile if you breastfeed, you’re made to feel guilty for feeding your baby in public. It doesn’t end.
  2. Not being in love at first sight. As a mother you expect that you’re going to immediately fall in deep deep love with that goop-covered screamer that you’ve just spent 24 hours pushing out. And while many women do, many don’t. It can take time.
  3. Resting. It’s important you get enough sleep when you have a newborn otherwise you won’t be able to function. But of course, you feel guilty every time you lie down for a moment. Housework to be done, what if the baby wakes up, and so on.
  4. A messy house. Having a newborn is BUSY! Even Martha Stewart no doubt had a messy house when she had a newborn – or a cleaner! Rather than feeling guilty or giving up your time resting, ask for help to clean the house. All those visitors have to come in handy for something!
  5. Speaking of visitors, you’ll also feel guilty about saying NO if you really don’t want a visitor. You might have had 20 seconds sleep in the past 48 hours; you’ve hit the baby blues; and you just want a moment to yourself when your baby goes down for a nap … then your mother-in-law calls up to say she’s picked up 10 family members from the airport and they are on their way over for cuddles. Don’t be afraid to say no.

Unfortunately that’s not where it ends; in fact – it’s just the start. Welcome to motherhood – you’re going to feel guilty for the rest of your life…

The key thing to note is that as long as your children are happy, aren’t physically harmed in any way, are given a loving and mentally stable lifestyle, and they are fed; whatever you’re doing must be right. And it doesn’t matter who disagrees – as long as you know you’re doing the very best you can to ensure they have a future that is bright and full of opportunity. That’s all that matters. Be the best mum you can be!

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