Advice for Every New Mother: You Got This

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a new mother? Does the thought, “I’m a bad mom” often cross your mind?

When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mother caring for an infant, it’s easy to feel like a failure. Every new mother has only two goals: take care of the baby and take care of yourself.

Continue on to learn tips from one new mother to another.

Advice For a New Mother

When women become new mothers, it can be overwhelming. Caring for a newborn is exhausting; you’re navigating a world where your body has morphed and nursing is relentless.

It’s easy to feel like “I’m a bad mom” because trying to keep up a perfect home, look great, keep your marriage together and be a perfect mother is daunting.

When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mother caring for an infant — something women think they should innately know how to do — it’s easy to feel like a failure.

The author shares her experience as a new mother to help other women understand they’re not alone, and to offer advice on succeeding at new motherhood.

Feeling Like “I’m a Bad Mom”

Hollis suffered through awful pregnancies, including morning sickness that lasted for 9 months, varicose veins, and terrible anxiety over what could go wrong. When she had the baby, she was unprepared for how inadequate she felt. Her terror over what could go wrong was magnified. Breastfeeding was hard and the accompanying exhaustion was soul-sucking. 

Her husband wasn’t helpful, leading her to feel she was doing it all by herself, which caused resentment and anger. She remembers once getting so angry with him she shouted, “I never thought I could hate you as much as I hate you right now!”

As the baby got older, she was focused on housework, chores, and keeping up perfect appearances. She never simply enjoyed her time as a new mom; she didn’t feel connected to her child. This pattern kept up after the birth of her second child, when she suffered from postpartum depression.

Her reality of motherhood didn’t match up to the images she saw in magazines and online, and she felt she was failing at the one thing she was supposed to be good at.

Advice to New Moms

But she learned important lessons she wants to share with new moms to save them some of the angst she went through. First and foremost, understand that a new mother has two goals only: take care of the baby, and take care of yourself.

Everything else — laundry, cleaning, losing weight — doesn’t matter. God brought you and your baby together; you were meant to be a pair and you can’t fail at a job you were created to do. This doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes and things will always be perfect, but you and your child are meant to be together. All the anxiety you feel about wanting to do everything right just shows that you’re concerned, dedicated and focused. You’re already the best kind of parent!

Tips on Feeling Equipped to Be a New Mother

Try these lifesaving strategies to survive as a new mother:

  • Find a support group. Mommy and me classes, church groups, clubs — there are many places to find a group of women who understand what it’s like to be a new mom.
  • Stay away from Pinterest. Online images of motherhood perfection are likely to cause anxiety over what you think you lack. Take a break from social media in general.
  • Get out of the house. There is a life beyond your messy nest, so get out every day and save your sanity. 
  • Talk about your feelings. Whether it’s your husband, a friend or a family member, talking about what scares you or brings you anxiety is the best way to get rid of those negative feelings.
Advice for Every New Mother: You Got This

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rachel Hollis's "Girl, Wash Your Face" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Girl, Wash Your Face summary:

  • Why you should accept that life can be messy
  • How seeing that you're in control of your life can help you live more joyfully
  • The 20 lies you might be telling yourself

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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