What Are the Causes of 'Mom Guilt' and How to Cope With It

Jasmine Kamal
6/19/20, 12:00 AM

As you know, every month we dedicate a day to ask a question about one of the common challenges that mothers are facing these days or have been facing throughout time, so we can hear from you about your experiences and help you learn how to deal with them. However, this time it was completely different. We know that mom guilt is a huge mental strain that many mothers and especially new moms struggle with and it's hard for a lot of them to understand the cause of these feelings and know how to cope with mom guilt

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The first time we asked our question on social media, the answers were very limited. Which led us to ask you again, but in a different way, perhaps more clearly, but we found that it seems like moms are finding it hard to distinguish and understand the guilt they could be feeling and so we  decided that we should talk about that today...

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Mom guilt: Its causes and how to deal with it

 What is mom guilt?

Simply put, it is the feeling of guilt that can overwhelm a mom, at some point, causing her to think that she is falling short or not doing enough for her children. A mom would fee like she didn't or isn't doing what she's supposed to in order to make them better, whether emotionally, physically, or even compered to other children. She begins to feel a weight on her shoulders and a heaviness in her chest, worried about her baby or children. 

Does mom guilt last a long time?

Some moms struggle with strong mom guilt for a while and then it goes away. While for others, it never goes away or lasts for many years. It may even get worse, if you're unable to deal with it or process it.

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What are the causes of mom guilt?

1. Pressure from family and friends

After birth, a mother are under extreme pressures, having most people around her telling her the importance of breastfeeding, that she has low milk supply (even if she doesn't), and that she has to find a solution. These are the traditional hereditary tips that have always been passed on from one generation to next. They make the new mom feel incredibly guilty about not being able to feel her baby well enough. Also, these pressures continue for years, taking on different and topics. 

2. Comparing your child to others

As the child grows, the mom enters into a constant struggle of comparison. If she sees that a baby has started speaking or walking before hers, she immediately begins to blame herself. Having thoughts like..."I must have done something wrong that led him/her to not do these things in time."  Of course, the comparing does not end here, it can even get harder with time, comparing all the smallest little details. 

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3. Social media

With the spread of social media, virtual images that are not an accurate representation of reality often affect how a mother views herself. She begins comparing herself to other mothers. For example, if she sees a cute picture of a mom and her child, she would blame herself for not making a memory like this happen with her baby or she can start to believe that this mother's life is perfect, with non of the difficulties she's facing and so on...

4. Lack of self-confidence

Sometimes mothers suffer from a lack of self-confidence and insecurities, that have been there since childhood. What makes them always feel like they're not doing enough is that they think they're not good enough and they should be doing more and better. This is also a problem that can keep growing as their babies get older. 

5. Her experience with her parents

Some mothers had experiences of neglect from their own parents and might not have resolved or dealt with these issues. This can lead to her to a fear and need for control to prevent her from making the same mistakes. She could often feel like she's falling short of being a good parent, just like her's. 

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Which mothers are most likely to experience mom guilt?

The truth is, it is hard to find a mother who is completely exempt from that guilt. Yes guilt is not a healthy emotion, but unfortunately most mothers go through it. However, there are those with which it can get really unhealthy and obsessive, to the point where it really requires therapy and has to be taken seriously. 

1. Mothers who struggle with mental health problems. 

2. Mothers who suffer from postpartum depression.

3. Mothers who do not have enough awareness or the necessary information about everything related to motherhood.

4. Working mothers (society makes them feel like they're taking away form their child's needs for their own personal needs and success.)

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How to deal with mom guilt

1. Identify the source of guilt

We just talked about the causes of guilt, and now the first step in dealing with it is to what the source or cause is for you...

2. Be honest with yourself

Take a pen and paper, and write down the good things that you do for your children and on another paper write down the negatives or the things you think you're lacking in (and the source of guilt you came to understand in point #1). Try to find a link between the two paper. For example, you think you're not feeding your baby enough and that's why they're thin, look in your other paper and see how many times you feed them a day and what nutrients that contains. Then do some research and ask their doctor to make sure you're on the right track.

3. Avoid people who are toxic and negative

We are all surrounded by people who have a negative effects on us, our emotions and energy.  So take a closer look at the people around you and distance yourself from those who don't make you feel good about yourself or are constantly criticizing you and how you are as a mom. 

4. Educate yourself about parenting

You will not be able to determine whether you are or aren't doing enough for your children, if you don't know what should and shouldn't be done when it comes to raising them. Try to read a lot about parenting, nutrition, psychology, behavior, health and more, from different sources with different views and opinions so you can have a full rounded view and education to help you do the best you can.

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5. Talk to a specialist or doctor 

Always consult a doctor. You feel like you're failing their health? Take them to the doctor for a check up. Your child isn't walking to talking yet? See a doctor as soon as possible. You're still feeling guilty, despite taking the necessary measures? Why not see a therapist or psychiatrist, so you can address your feelings and know how to cope with them?

Simple real experiences from women who've struggled with mom guilt:

A mothers told us her experience:  "My daughter kept crying for a whole day, until I started feeling that I fell short in caring for her and watching her health and that she undoubtedly had something dangerous. When I went to the doctor he told me that she only wanted to drink water!"

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Another mother told us, "I think the feeling of guilt does not leave me every night, when I'm asleep and my baby wants to breastfeed."

Now, do you struggle with mom guilt? Share your experience with us...

Main Image Credits: Instagram @jennycipoletti



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Jasmine Kamal

Writing has always been my primary means of self-expression, allowing me to convey my dreams and pains with heartfelt sincerity. From a young age, I developed a deep love for the written word, and I n...

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