MOTHERHOOD – “I was very relieved to know I wasn’t the only one. But why doesn’t anyone warn us?” asks Marie Kermarrec, mother of a 6-month-old girl. “I want kids, but I feel like all of this mostly negative testimony scares me. And this fear plays with my desire and my self-confidence to be a mother,” reveals Lana.
Many of you have shared these maternity questions with us. Because if pregnancy, childbirth or childbirth are less and less taboo today, this flow of information can lead to more fear and doubt than serenity in relation to one of the most important things in a woman’s life: having children.
This article is part of our new article on the impact of women’s freedom of expression on pregnancy and motherhood, published on International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8th March.
Social networks, books or discussion forums provide answers, calm, inform and relieve some women who sometimes feel very alone with their questions or fears, but some aspects remain taboo. In particular, the “immediate” love for her child. That explains Inès, a young mother of four children. She confesses it took 4 years to love her eldest and 5 years to “accept him as a child, MY child…”
It is thanks to reading the testimonies and articles about regrets about being a mother, love and maternal instinct that she was able to admit her guilt, “the disgust I felt for myself” and choose to be herself giving means understanding and learning for her three other children.
“I was completely unprepared”
Knowing that she wasn’t the only one in this case makes her feel guilty. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t love their babies the moment they come out. I give us time to adjust to each other, to build a relationship.”
Furthermore, motherhood and the desire to understand what one is feeling can not only help mothers but spur them on to move forward in a spirit of community and sharing. Such is the case of Clémence de Stabenrath. “I had learned a lot about pregnancy and childbirth thanks to very good podcasts (Bliss Stories, Matrescence…), but I was absolutely not prepared for the extreme loneliness after childbirth.”
What sociologists call the “loneliness of new parents” was all the more difficult for Clémence because the birth and confinement took place during the first confinement. “We lived the two months of imprisonment in a triple vacuum with my husband and my daughter, without visits from our family, our friends, without outside help. My husband had to save his business, he couldn’t take paternity leave at the time,” she explains. Like Inès, Clémence found it difficult to adjust to motherhood. “The difficulty of orienting yourself as a new mom with no landmarks was very difficult to accept, I imagined that connection would be immediate and obvious.”
When she admits to having been helped thanks to the publication of the postpartum speech, she admits: “Until you have lived the first few months, it is very difficult to understand how much you need to know, how to ask for help in many ways you have to do some research beforehand.” This prompted her to share her experience and a year later to start a podcast called “Prelude, we are not born a parent”. On the program, testimonials from parents, concrete examples, advice. “As many different experiences as there are people on the mic, and I hope this will help future parents feel less alone and be more prepared for this earthquake,” she concludes.
Too much information
But sometimes too much motherhood kills motherhood, we spill into the opposite excess where information overload can challenge the desire for a child.
This is what psychologist Chloé OG noticed, for whom freedom of expression is counterproductive and women lose self-confidence. “If I were to give birth to a child for the first time in 2022, I would certainly be riddled with fears in addition to those related to my own history. I would have bathed in this modern discourse without my consent, in which being a mother means carrying one’s cross”. Even if the “motherhood” conveyed uninhibitedly and without make-up and without filters in the social networks allows the mothers concerned to find support and to be accompanied, this over-medialization should not take place for this mother of three children, and above all, evoke the feeling that all mothers should encounter difficulties in their new roles.
Lucile Pauline felt this torment or anxiety caused by the omnipresence of the difficulties of motherhood. Angered by one of her friends who sent her many articles or videos of mothers recounting the complications of postpartum during their pregnancy, she decided to stop following all these reports, which she found scary. “Without saying that we must completely ignore the negative aspects, I get the impression on social media that they want to upset us more than to warn us. It’s ubiquitous and I’ll say it again, it’s starting to scare me,” explains this mother-to-be, happy and impatient to give birth to her first child.
“I had to start psychological follow-up, both to help me grieve for my children and most importantly, to help me overcome the fear of being a mother””
– Charlotte D
Charlotte, on the other hand, almost thwarted her desire to have children. Despite a very complicated pregnancy journey, she managed to overcome her infertility and the dramas of miscarriage and perinatal bereavement. She is the proud mother of a 5 year old little boy.
Maternity made in Instagram
However, the fear of becoming a mother did not leave her. “I had to start psychological aftercare, both to help me grieve for my children and most importantly, to help me overcome the fear of being a mother,” she says. This fear was partly fueled by the statements of his entourage and published on social networks. “I felt like motherhood was ultimately an alienating adventure where you lost all identity and caring for children seemed like the cross and the banner,” she says.
She even began to fear becoming a mother, despite her obstacle course to becoming a mother. Questions assailed her: “Will I like to be a mother? will i love my child will i regret it Will my life be turned upside down forever?”. She was only able to overcome her fears with psychological support.
The influx of information and knowledge surrounding motherhood is not enough to live it well. Mathilde experienced this. Steeped in podcasts, articles, posts and even books on parenting, this young mother has not missed a very complicated birth, postpartum depression and even less a deep loneliness early in life as a threesome. Eight months after the birth of their child, she also has other difficulties: “I even have this feeling of being overinformed, less good, comparing myself even more.” Her husband downplays her motherhood ideas by kindly “made in Instagram “ evokes.
Despite the fears and doubts that this discontinuous flow and excessive medialization of motherhood provoke, most testimonies agree on one observation: today, this freedom of expression allows expectant mothers to choose “conscious” motherhood and consent to access information and support have you may need.
Inès confides in that. “Thank you for all of these articles, I’m a lot happier with myself for understanding I wasn’t alone with this type of experience.” She also advises “lost” moms-to-be to persevere. “Courage Courage, you do your best, you are wonderful.” For Clémence, patience and a long time are more than strength or anger: “Everything passes, even the most difficult moments,” she concludes.
All these women may have forgotten something essential in this flood of information: trusting themselves, trusting their instincts, letting go, like the last piece of advice that the psychologist so often gives. That’s what Charlotte did, who admits the therapy has allowed her to approach her pregnancy and motherhood with serenity.
In recent years, motherhood has seeped into feminism and vice versa. The discomfort of pregnancy, the pregnant body, the first three months of breastfeeding, miscarriage, childbirth… All these topics are now the focus of a survey. It is no longer about embellishing the reality of pregnancy and then motherhood, but about making free speech about the difficulties involved.
Today, expectant mothers, as well as women who do not want to become mothers, have access to a huge collection of documents on the subject. Books, podcasts, testimonials on social networks are becoming more and more numerous and are part of the discussions.
What impact does this freedom of speech have on women? Does it affect their relationship with pregnancy and motherhood? We address these questions in our new dossier, which we are publishing on the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day this Tuesday, March 8th. Here are the other articles:
See also on The HuffPost: Ilana Weizman opens up about her postpartum life and the taboo around it