Studies Say Latina Moms Struggle With Pregnancies In Ways That Are Unique To Themselves In Early Stages
By Diana R. Diaz
Welcome to motherhood! Whether you had a difficult pregnancy and delivery or not, you’ve officially crossed over into undeniably the best and hardest years of your life. As a mother myself (of boy-girl twins), I can tell you with all certainty, that nothing, I mean nothing, no book, no blog, no video, can adequately prepare you to ‘do motherhood’ the right way. Simply stated, there is no right way. Our bodies are different, our tolerance levels are different.
I had a beautiful pregnancy and delivery but struggled tremendously in the weeks and months that followed. Sleep deprivation was harsh and my postpartum depression was oh-so-real. Most of which was triggered by the cultural pressure I felt to breastfeed when my body simply couldn’t. Inevitably I felt like a failure. Truth is, I tried. I tried a lot. But with every attempt, I felt my mental and physical state take a toll for the worse. It led me into a very dark and lonely place. I share all about it in this video. In retrospect, I realize that it didn’t have to be this extreme. And while there’s definitely no book with all the magic answers, here are my 3 Survival Tips for New Latina Moms to help you better cope with the unexpected twists and turns of early motherhood.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself
Chances are, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and quite vulnerable. And since this is your first time having a baby, you have no real measure or point of reference on how early motherhood ‘should’ be. With all this said, it can be easy to fall victim to the comparison game. You might’ve heard that your prima breastfed like a champ; that your tia used a specific baby formula that she swore by; or that your friend willingly and excitedly took 5 years off work to thrive as a stay at home mom. With the constant influx of information, you have to pause and remind yourself that your experiences are unique. As a new mom, you must harness the little energy you have and channel in the areas in your life that really need it. This way, your wellness remains a consistent priority. So next time, instead of thinking of how ‘fulana’ did something a certain way; pause and redirect your thoughts to:
“Have I taken a shower today?”
“Have I taken a few whole deep breaths today?”
“Have I looked in the mirror and told myself, wow good job today?”
2. Breastfeed or Not – YOU Decide
Listen, this isn’t easy. I personally wanted to breastfeed and dreamed of it being such a beautiful and painless experience. I went to all the classes and told myself, I will be like that woman smiling while simultaneously breastfeeding her newborn twins in the cover of a motherhood magazine. None of which actually happened because I soon learned I had hyper-sensitive nipples which made breastfeeding feel like death. Family and friends would kindly but firmly insist I keep trying. As a result, I fell into a feeling of deep sorrow. Ladies, don’t do this. YOU know your body better than anyone. If you are in unruly pain and you know in your gut that your attempts to breastfeed is deteriorating your mental and physical health, please listen to your body, even if it goes against what your mom, suegra or partner may think. Conversely, if you want to breastfeed and feel pressured to stop when you really don’t want to, listen to your gut. It’s important to note that all new moms struggle with breastfeeding. Some moms are total naturals. Other moms struggle a little in the beginning and soon get the hang of it. There are also a number of resources to help with breastfeeding and maternal wellness. My point isn’t to discourage breastfeeding, my point is to encourage self-awareness.
3. Prioritize Self-Care
In the early months of motherhood, it’s easy to forget to think about yourself, or spending time away from your baby. For some, especially those part of the Latinx culture, this can feel like an absolute “sin”. Regardless, prioritizing self-care is vital to maintaining your mental and physical health. Self-care means different things to different people. Here are some easy ways you can prioritize self-care during early motherhood:
- Have a help plan. Yes, this means you should ask for help! Identify 2-3 friends and/or family members that can come and alternate once a week to help you with cleaning, cooking or babysitting while you do some self-care (not to be confused with friends and family that visit to meet the baby).
- If you can, hire help to clean and/or cook
- Take an extra-long hot shower with your favorite music on full blast
- Gym or yoga session once a week
- Go for a long walk around the block with or without the baby
- Go for a fast-food run and eat it in your car
- Sleep – preferably in a separate room or at a nearby friend’s house
- Say no to what doesn’t feel right in your gut
- Watch a feel-good movie
- Enjoy a pedicure or an actual body massage
- A quick drive to your favorite coffee place
*shout out to my RAWW IG community for sharing their early motherhood self-care activities.
Follow us on IG at @therawwnetwork