Becoming a parent for the first time is one of the biggest adjustments in your life that you will ever go through. Just like that, your world has changed, and you are now holding both this huge sense of responsibility for a new little human while possibly also holding on to a great amount of uncertainty on what’s ahead, on how you will navigate it all and a strong sense of wanting to get it right.

Adjusting to parenthood can be challenging for new parents. It can bring up a lot of emotions related to your own childhood experiences, both good and not so good. There is a lot of fatigue that new parents will experience as they take on many new responsibilities and deal with the lack of sleep that comes with the early phases of parenthood. It is not uncommon to grieve your pre-child life as you adjust to being a new parent. You may also find yourself trying to grapple with this new identity and how it impacts other parts of your life.

In Canada, about a quarter of women will experience symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of postpartum depression or anxiety after childbirth [1]. This includes symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, typically arising from hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue. It’s important to talk to your doctor and seek out the support of a knowledgeable therapist if you’re concerned about postpartum depression or anxiety.

Motherhood can change your world in very positive and meaningful ways. There are various stresses that come from raising kids but parents can experience a greater sense of meaning in their lives and experience a lot of wonder and joy as they see they see their children discover the world. There are new routines and relationships that develop with other women who like you are entering motherhood for the first time, the laughs that come with seeing the adorable things your baby or toddler does, their first time trying a special treat, their first steps, the dance parties (of a new kind, maybe not the ones you were used to before motherhood) with school-aged children in the living room. There is love and there are cuddles and there are hard moments too. For many mothers, there is a kind of love you couldn’t have imagined, where your little one, in those sweet moments, make you feel like the most special person in the world.

While you’re adjusting to motherhood, there are things you can do to support yourself through this transition and that can make a difference. For example:

-Notice the way you talk to yourself and how this may be contributing to your emotions and your experience of motherhood. Learn ways to reframe your thoughts or take some distance from your thoughts so you’re not hooking on to them in the same way.

-Take care of your mental health by carving out alone time and practicing good self-care. You may not have time like you once did, but filling your cup is important so ensure that you are carving out a bit of time for yourself as well and get creative on how you might fit this in or, if you are parenting with a partner, see if you can both trade-off to ensure you’re both getting some time to recharge.

-Be mindful not to isolate yourself too much at home. Go out, see friends, meet other moms, stay active, spend quality time doing activities you enjoy with your baby or while a loved one cares for them so you can reconnect with other parts of yourself

-Set up a game plan to ease some of the pressure you are feeling. Ask for help from your partner, family and friends and access services you may need to help during this transitional period (eg. Ordering prepared meals, housecleaning service, etc.)

-Seek out a therapist or join a postpartum support group if you’re feeling concerned about how you’re coping.


Melina Ladouceur

Looking for a therapist?

Melina Ladouceur is a registered social worker and practicing psychotherapist who offers individual counselling and is currently accepting new clients.