While every pregnancy is different, many mothers describe their experience with pregnancy, childbirth, and the trying months following their labor similarly: it’s isolating. Once the initial excitement and ‘glow’ of pregnancy has worn off, expectant mothers are faced with the limitations of their newfound situation.
Not being able to consume alcohol, coffee, or even sushi and soft cheese can put a damper on a lot of social activities for some women. As the pregnancy progresses, mothers are more limited in their movement, abilities, and energy. This is not a recipe for a rockin’ social calendar. While these symptoms are alleviated shortly after birth, moms cope with a whole other slew of curveballs: recovery from labor and — the most important part — the defenseless newborn they have to care for around the clock.
After ten months of pregnancy and three months to a year hibernating with an infant, it’s no wonder that so many mothers feel social anxiety when they start to get back out into the world.
‘Irrational’ Fear of Being Judged
Social anxiety runs the spectrum of severity from mild anxiety, to restless nights, racing thoughts, and even full-blown panic attacks. It is based on an irrational fear of social interactions. The fear stems from the idea that you’re constantly being watched, judged, and evaluated by others. Irrational fear? This is motherhood in a nutshell.
All moms feel like they’re being watched and judged as caregivers, but at no point are we more vulnerable to societal pressures than after the birth of our first child. Everyone is giving us conflicting advice, our parents and in-laws are telling us we’re doing everything wrong, and we’re staring at images of celebrities in the media that appear to have just given birth and now have rock-hard abs.
If you believe you suffer from postpartum anxiety, which affects 10% of all new moms, talk to your general practitioner immediately to develop a treatment plan. In addition to getting the help you need, calm your fears by getting into the habit of replacing negative self-talk — that cruel voice in your head telling you you’re a ‘bad mom’ — with positive self-talk, such as the affirmations below.
5 Positive Affirmations for New Moms with Social Anxiety
1. Fear is a feeling; it cannot hold me back.
Stare fear right in its ugly face. By acknowledging the fear for what it is, a feeling that your mind is generating, you are rendering it powerless. Fear can be “paralyzing” but it can’t physically hold you back. Tell fear to take a walk — you’ve got things to do and people to see.
2. I am strong and I am capable.
You just made a human being and then delivered this human into the world using the last bit of physical strength you had at the end of a nearly year-long gestation period. Let’s repeat: you made a human being. Stop and think about that for a minute. That’s INCREDIBLE. It’s a real-life superpower. Breastfeed or formula? Public school or private school? Who cares! YOU MADE ANOTHER PERSON WITH YOUR BODY. Whatever you decide, however you approach it, you are 100% capable of making these decisions. You’re strong AF.
3. I am learning and growing, just like everyone else.
Took you two hours to figure out how to install the carseat? Decided to use cloth diapers then changed your mind? Did you call the pediatrician for something that turned out to be no big deal? We all go through it. There is a learning curve for motherhood. Not necessarily for figuring out how to be a mother but for figuring out who you are as a mom. Sometimes assembling the baby gizmos isn’t our strong suit. Sometimes we want to do what’s best for the environment, but convenience wins in the end. It’s okay to change your mind. The decisions you make, and unmake, for your family are your business — no one else’s. Most importantly: the people who choose to judge others for their parenting choices aren’t worth a second thought.
4. I trust myself and my instincts.
Maternal instincts are real and there isn’t one way to raise a child. People all over the world are raising beautiful, kind, intelligent human beings in a million different ways. There isn’t one right way, there is only the best way for you and your family. If people give you their unsolicited opinion, feel free to tell them you never asked for it.
5. I am enough for my baby.
You are the perfect mother for your child. The baby is yours. You will do everything in your power to love and nurture your child using all the resources available to you. In the end, that’s what your kids will remember. Not whether or not you succeed at ‘sleep training’ or how much screen-time they had or didn’t have. They’ll remember how much you loved them. The rest is just background noise.
Learning to be kind to ourselves and correct our habitual negative thoughts is a habit that we need to form. It may sound hokey, but repeating positive affirmations regularly will imprint them on your subconscious. After several weeks, when that cruel voice pops up, you will instantly spring to your own defense and put that voice back in its place. Be confident in yourself as a person and and as a mother.