New mum struggles: An open letter to a new mum

New mum problems

Everywhere I go, it seems to be new mum central – despite the little baby in the mix which obviously gives the game away, they are also made obvious by a certain look in their eyes which is an all-too-familiar melting pot of loneliness, exhaustion, I can do this and this isn’t what I signed up for. I can’t reach out to all of you on the street with a smile, a knowing glance or a few kind words, but I can write this for all of you…

Dear new mum,

This isn’t what you thought it would be. I know. You thought you would be in mama heaven. And sometimes you are. But for the most part, you are sleep deprived, hormone enraged, and have lost your old self at sea (more on that here).

You never realised how hard it was going to be, how much of yourself you were going to give – emotionally, physically, mentally. You long for uninterrupted sleep. You long for time alone. You long for a shower. You long for camaraderie. The days roll into nights and nights roll into days. A never ending cycle of feeding and changing nappies, and sometimes, albeit briefly, sleep. If only you could go back and tell your pregnant self what it would really be like. If only someone had told you what it would REALLY be like – not the version of new motherhood you were sold in the glossy magazines.

You love your baby so much it hurts (but sometimes, you feel like you just want to be without them for a while, and then hate yourself for it). Your entire life has been spent living for you, selfishly; and now everything you do is for this little being you have brought into this world. Nobody and nothing prepared you for that seismic shift in the way you’d have to live your life, the biggest transformation of your life which you spent 9 months preparing for.  Nobody told you the strain it would put on your relationship, nobody told you you would be tested and challenged, pushed beyond your limits, feel totally lost in your surging emotions.

I know you want me to tell you now that it gets easier but the truth is, I can’t. But what I can tell you is that it will become different. You will experience new joys and new challenges. You will be spurred on by milestones and firsts, paid in kisses and cuddles, suffer from new frustrations, delight in new successes.

But I CAN promise you WILL find yourself again, and you know what? You will be a better you – you will be stronger and wiser for it. Your new self will thank your old self, make peace with each other, and be glad for each other.

You will soon know that YOU, not anybody knows best. You will soon know to trust your own judgement and instincts, and you will soon find your rhythm. Motherhood is a constant cycle of ebbs and flows, of highs and lows, of wins and losses. This is the beginning of the most glorious, frustrating, mind-boggling journey of your life. Enjoy the rainbows while you can and hold on tight for the shit storms as motherhood takes you on the ride of your life.



P.S. If you are a parent who has already been there and done that reading this, what would you add to this letter?

If you’re a new mum trying to get your head around new motherhood, I urge you to reach out to the #mommitment Facebook group and page to gain support from non-judgemental mums. 

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  1. Aw, what a great post! This should be a post all new mums should read. Motherhood isn’t all that it is made out to be and sometimes, it is the “tough” moments is what will make you into the person you never thought you’ll be or become. It is definitely an adventure worth going on!

  2. I love this! Yes, a “seismic shift” is the perfect way to describe it. You do come out stronger on the other end of newborn-ness. But definitely different. I sometimes miss the carefree life before having the baby but he is something amazing and special too.

  3. I love this post. I’m not really sure that ANYTHING could have prepared me for just how all-encompassing motherhood would be but my encouragement for that new, Rabbit in the Headlights Mama, is this: you will find energy at times you never thought you would. You will feel beyond exhausted but will somehow still be able to muster enough fuel to get up and do that thing that needs doing; be it a 3am feed, an hour-long session of walking round the house with a screaming baby who you can’t soothe no matter what you do, or whizzing up more pureed baby food. You are awesome; you just don’t know it yet.

  4. I can completely resonate with this! It’s such a roller coaster of emotions when you first have a baby, but it’s always worth it (after the tough times). #coolmumclub

  5. Fab post Talya! Though I’m glad it wasn’t a warning letter to an expectant mum…

    I wrote a guest post reminding pregnant women of the wonders and joys they could expect because the whole time I was pregnant I was told nothing but the contents of your letter! Essential for the woman experiencing it, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely necessary to terrorise pregnant women with. (Not that you have done! I love your letter and think it’s directed where it needs to be!)

    The reason I feel strongly about this is that I don’t think knowledge alone can prepare anyone for parenthood. You have to experience it to truly get it. X


    • I agree with you Kate about the crazy terror stories people used to relish telling me throughout my pregnancies. Especially the first one.
      And, oh my, you totally have to experience it to get it.
      Great letter Talya.

      ps am riding a rainbow right now after 3 weeks of shitstorms.

  6. A great post that the NHS should hand out to all new Mums! I can’t think of anything that needs adding, you have covered it all As a bew Mum’s I needed to realise that I wasn’t on my own in how I overwhelmed I felt and to realise that it is completely normal. Also like you say to remind themselves that it doesn’t last forever so to just ride it out and make the most of the rainbows! 🙂 #coolmumclub

  7. Oh this brought tears to my eyes … that last paragraph … beautifully written … it is the best journey. If I’m completely honest with myself I know I prefer who my children have made me … so I thank my children for that! A gorgeous thought provoking post #coolmumclub

  8. Yes…just yes! A perfect description of what it feels like to be a new mum. I think I always give off a sense of being completely in control when inside I’m anything but. Thanks for sharing #coolmumclub

  9. Talya I love you for posting this. This is amazing and it rings so unbelievably true for those first few weeks. I struggled and felt exactly the way you’ve described. But you’re right; it doesn’t get easier but it gets different – more and more beautiful and rewarding. And it’s all so totally worth it. Thank you so much for writing this – sounds stupid but it really meant so much reading this xxx #coolmumclub

  10. Ahhh, just beautiful! And so true, I’m sure everyone can find something to relate to in this! I recently contacted a friend of mine who has just had a baby, ready to show support if she needed it. I will say that this friendship has been fading for a long time now, but in the spirit of being a good person, I thought I’d reach out. Her response: labour: easy! Don’t know what the fuss is about! Feeding: easy! Put baby there, she feeds! Sleep: don’t need it! I actually want to stay awake all night watching her and not sleep at all, because she’s just so perfect! I just replied with ‘I’m glad you’ve got it all nailed so early on!’ and will leave it there. I just can’t relate to people who sugar coat it and can’t talk about how it really is. I need people who are real about it, and this is real without being scary, it’s a true reflection of what you will go through, and would be a great support for all new mums. X

  11. Oh, totally. I wrote a blog about FTMs and likened it to landing on an alien planet. You can’t go home again so you have to get on with it despite being bewildered and entirely out of your depth, not to mention more sleep deprived than you’ve ever been before. It is most definitely NOT what you expected, and not what TV or the NCT told you it would be!

    I think the most important message is that you WILL GET THROUGH IT!

    It’s a really sweet letter, I’m going to share this with my new mum friends!

  12. At 20 weeks pregnant I will be saving this post as a reminder when the time comes. I particularly like the advice to trust your own instincts. I know that everyone wants to express an opinion when it comes to parenting but I’m hoping I will have the confidence to believe in myself. It’s also reassuring to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel when the days get difficult. Thanks for such a heartwarming post. #coolmumclub

  13. I wish I had read this – or someone had told me these things – when I was a new mum. Maybe then I would have felt that what I was going through (aka nothing like in the books or glossy magazines) was normal. Thanks for putting it out there, I really hope it reaches the new mums who need it. #coolmumclub

  14. I think it’s so easy to feel like you are the only one going through these feelings. I felt very alone. It’s bloody difficult. But like you say, it changes – it doesn’t really get easier, just you learn to cope with old challenges and new challenges! Being a mum has already taught me so much! #coolmumclub

  15. Great post Talya and one I would’ve taken great comfort from if I’d read it in those first few months. You definitely lose yourself for a while and it takes a while to get it that back – but as you say, you definitely do find a far better version of yourself in the end xx #coolmumclub

  16. Ah this is soooo true! I hope all new mums reading this will realise that they will come out the other side. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll even want another baby?! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub, as always 🙂

  17. I had a tear in my eye reading this, it is so true. I hope that new mums read this. It is so true that it doesn’t get easier, just different. Love them so much it hurts but it doesn’t take away the struggle of sleep deprivation. #coolmumclub

  18. Oh this is lovely. I actually felt like when I was pregnant everybody just kept telling me what a shock we were in for and how hard it would be! I think I went into it expecting it to be worse haha. #coolmumclub

  19. Ooh this made me go all goosebumpy…such a wise head on such young shoulders Talya 😉

    You are one #coolmum. We should start a club 😉

  20. Totally agree with everything you wrote. My kids are 18, 4 and 2 and Somedays are a real struggle. Nothing prepares you for what an emotional rollercoaster parenting is.


  21. This is lovely – it made me a little bit teary! I found the first 6 months really hard, really really hard. And I don’t think I started to ‘find myself’ again until somewhere around a year later. It’s such a massive life changing event that I don’t think anyone can prepare you, and if they tried, you’d think “I can’t do that”. But you can, because you have to, and somewhere along the line you find that your life is so much better in so many indescribable ways. I wish I’d read this when I was 6 months in and finding it so hard. #Coolmumclub

  22. Great post and so, so true. Being a Mummy is without a doubt the hardest job in the whole world and it can take a while to reap the rewards! The first few months just feels so one sided doesn’t it? All the baby does is take, take, take and then one day, finally you get a smile or a laugh or a kiss….and it’s all worth it. I would tell any new mum to just keep going, that it will get easier and that it will all be worth it in the end! #coolmumclub

  23. So beautifully written and so true, I wish someone had said these things to me after having my son. I think we see other moms and feel they are perfect and we are not but in truth everyone has there moments and its ok. Thank you for sharing. #coolmumclub

  24. This is so beautiful – full of encouragement and empathy, without sugar-coating the challenges that parenthood brings. I love your description of becoming a new mum as being a “seismic shift” – such a perfect way of describing it and I also love the fact that you don’t say it will get easier – just that it changes because that’s exactly what I would say too. For me, what helped most as a new mum was the reminder of all the little moments that would make all the struggles worth it, the reassurance that I would find my feet again at some point and that I was “good enough” – even when I didn’t feel like it.

  25. This reminds me of a recent conversation with a friend who just had a baby. She practically cornered me (well, as much as an exhausted new mum can do) and asked why I hadn’t told her how hard it would be. It’s so difficult to rely it until it happens! #coolmumclub

  26. The only thing I’d add (and I’m over a decade into motherhood) is to find a way of remembering all the magical times, the treasured moments, when it’s all completely worth it. Sometimes, when life is hard, I spend a few minutes and a cup of tea reading notes or looking at photos from years gone by and it warms my heart all over again.

  27. Very good post, very accurate. Being a first time mum is tough can feel so lost at times its hard to imagine it any other way. But there is a light and you have summed it up brilliantly. Definitely a good read for new mums xx #coolmumclub

  28. So well put! Yes, I would show this to pregnant women and new mums. It’s not judgmental in any way. I’ve found it hard to say that I’m sometimes struggling, that it’s not so easy, that I’m tired or frustrated as it’s often met with “well, what did you expect” from friends and even more so family. I did a lot of “research” while pregnant, I wasn’t expecting it to be super easy, but why didn’t they say something then, in a nice and helpful way. So thank you for this! #coolmumclub

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  29. Fabulous post, thanks for sharing 🙂 it totally brings that newborn stage back. I loved the letter and an bookmarking this for if I have another. The only thing I would add is never compare yourself or your baby to others, all apples rippen and different times.also be kind to yourself during those early days and say no to visitors if you need to, they will understand. #coolmumclub x

  30. […] One final word – when I say I meditate for three minutes a day, what I mean is I aim to do it every day, but in reality, it ends up being more like three times a week which is still 9 more minutes than I was doing this time last year, and I believe, has really helped my state of mind especially on those days when everything gets a bit much in life as a mum. […]

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