The internet has allowed new moms to share the best moments of motherhood, but it also makes them feel guilty for not being the ‘perfect Instagram parent.’
Parenting experts told DailyMail.com that every new parent goes through spells of crippling guilt where they feel like they do not love their child as much as they should.
This is because people only post the best moments of being a new parent, leaving out the frustration, exhaustion and meltdowns behind the scenes.
Emma Armstrong, a certified birth doula and hypnobirthing practitioner, said: ‘We are expected to bounce back, to be this perfect social media mum breastfeeding our child and doing everything ‘right’ alongside being able to multitask like an octopus, oh and don’t forget we have to do it all with a smile on our face. ‘We are doomed if we do and doomed if we don’t.’
Armstrong and fellow parenting expert Illiyin Morrison have shared common guilts they have observed among new parents and provided ways to overcome the awful feeling.
Experts have shared common guilts they have observed among new parents and provide ways to overcome the awful feeling
Morrison, a UK midwife and birth trauma expert at The Baby Show, told DailyMail.com that there are two types of ‘mom guilt,’ one that serves and the other shames.
‘The guilt that shames is that just ties you up in knots and makes you feel terrible but doesn’t move you to acts,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘The guilt that serves often leads you to act and will make you reflect and ask yourself, ‘hold on, what am I feeling guilty about, and can I change it?”
The guilt of being tired, frustrated and angry
Armstrong, also a birth expert at The Baby Show, said many parents beat themselves up when they become frustrated, tired and angry.
These feelings usually appear when you are exhausted from the late-night feedings and constant worry about your newborn.
‘The truth of the matter is feeling these emotions is so normal,’ said Armstrong.
‘It’s hard work and when social media show us smiley faces of mums and their children – it sets us up for failure before we’ve even started.
‘When you feel frustrated and angry, know that this is a positive start to overcoming those emotions at the moment.’
The guilt of co-sleeping
Most parents are naturally inclined to sleep protectively near their babies, and data suggest that co-sleeping is on the rise across the US, where it has long been seen as a dangerous act.
Sleeping with your newborn is frowned upon because it has been linked to SIDS, the unexplained tragedy of healthy infants dying in their sleep.
But a poll in 2022 found 88 percent of parents opt to co-sleep because it makes them feel closer to their children.
‘The guilt around choosing or trying different methods of sleep teaching or training can cause you to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing,’ said Armstrong.
It’s important for you to know that whatever feels right for you is the right thing.
‘Lowering expectations of your child’s sleep can help you feel at ease about their sleep patterns.
‘Babies and children go through a lot, especially in the first three years. Their brains are developing and their sleep may change a lot.
UK-based parenting experts told DailyMail.com that feeling stems from the notion that parents are expected to follow a specific regimen and do it all, but one step off the path can cause crippling shame
Do yourself a favor and give yourself a break. The less pressure you put on yourself, the better. And if you need support and help, don’t hesitate to ask for it.’
The guilt of missing the old you
Parenting can be a joy, but it also means giving up the life you once had for a completely new one.
Many parents will yearn for their freedom – being able to go anywhere and anytime – which triggers immense guilt.
‘We feel as though we’re losing ourselves. The truth is we have lost that person, and it’s ok to grieve them! When you have a child, you go through a big transformation, a rebirth into a new you,’ said Armstrong.
Still you, but more. I think this is a great way to look at it and to reframe your thoughts around the changes first of all.
‘Look at what you’ve become – how you’ve grown a human and moved forward into a new part of your life!’
She continued to explain that new parents can find ways to honor their old lives, like meeting with friends, enjoying a cocktail and making plans to get out there.
‘The guilt around choosing or trying different methods of sleep teaching or training can cause you to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing,’ said Armstrong. ‘It’s important for you to know that whatever feels right for you is the right thing’
‘Just because you have a child doesn’t mean you can’t do things you did before! So, find your tribe and get yourself out there. After all, the better you feel mentally, the easier it will be to create a more positive environment for you and your babe,’ Armstrong said.
The guilt of returning to work
Many new parents also feel terrible returning to work after spending months home with their little ones, which also means dropping them off at daycare to be watched by strangers.
Armstrong urges moms and dads to show self-compassion during this time because they are doing what is best for their families.
‘When choosing a nursery or childminder, use that mom intuition’s power,’ she said.
‘Explain how you’re feeling to them and call them if you need reassurance.
‘Just like anything, changes can take some time to get used to but know that as long as you and your child have a secure attachment, they will trust you regardless if they’re upset leaving you in the mornings.’
The perfect Instagram parent shows themselves actively creating, inventing and involving their entire beings in their child’s daily activities.
‘What you don’t see is behind that image or video on Instagram is a mom trying to keep herself together, do the housework, walk the dog, prepare the healthy organic meals and run on zero sleep,’ Armstrong said.
‘These people are not super-human. They are just like you and me. Don’t get caught up in the Instagram world of perfect.
‘Challenge those negative beliefs. The best thing you can give your child is your time, and when you don’t have a lot of it, try and create a routine of when you can. You don’t have to be doing fancy activities or creating something fantastic but instead just being present.’