Why Baby’s First Year Is Hardest on Moms

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

A study of over 2,000 first-time moms revealed that the best ways to describe new motherhood would be “chaotic,” “tiring” and “stressful.” (Yup! That sounds about right, doesn’t it?)

The study, performed by the UK-based company Nurofen for Children and Babies, went on to add that as a new mom, the first twelve months with baby are an uphill battle, emotionally and physically draining.

Of the 2,000 moms surveyed, a large percentage admitted that the more negative aspects of parenthood (you know, the sleepless nights, those feelings of helplessness, loneliness and sheer shock at how much — and how often — this little person can wail) outweighed the positive. Also included in the survey was the fact that 1,000 of the new moms admitted to feeling like they’d “lost their identity” in baby’s first year.

Dr. Pixie McKenna, spokeswoman for Nurofen for Children, said that, “It’s easy to underestimate the impact having a baby has on a woman’s life. Before embarking on parenthood, many women are settled in a job, know what they are doing on a day-to-day basis, and are confident in the role they have carved out for themselves. They have independence, aren’t responsible for anyone but themselves, and their abilities and decisions aren’t questioned constantly.”

She added, “The minute a baby comes along, a woman’s world is turned upside down – with that initial rush of love and joy comes the unknown, and it is this which can throw women completely off balance.”

Here’s what else the survey showed:

  • More than half of new moms deal with a major blow to their confidence. Why? So many realize they have no clue what they’re doing.
  • The moms also said that motherhood would be better if it came with instructions – or a set of extra hands. The support is important, they said, when dealing with certain aspects of caring for a new baby. A guidebook on when to call the doctor (and how to give medicine) was also mentioned, since one out of three mothers feel really confused when it comes to treating infant and toddler illnesses.
  • They also said that more information on how to juggle the cleaning, cooking and general day-to-day while caring for an infant would have been appreciated.
  • 50 percent of the women polled wished that someone could really explain why babies cry. Just over 43 percent wanted support for those sleepless nights.
  • As for who to call in times of trouble, the women surveyed admitted they call their own mothers.
  • Two-thirds said it was really difficult to deal with – and make it through – the sleep deprivation.
  • Four-in-ten moms said they had no idea to get their baby to follow a sleep routine, while 35 percent said they made up their own routine when feeding their child.
  • One-in-four moms revealed they weren’t sure which milestones baby was hitting – or missing.
  • 55 percent admitted they missed their pre-baby social life, 35 percent missed work and 51 missed their pre-baby body.

After the survey was completed, McKenna admitted that the responses really resonated with her as a mom. “When it comes to health advice,” she said,  “only a quarter of mothers feel comfortable sharing advice with other mothers on knowing when to query things with a doctor, and even less feel comfortable advising how to recognize when a baby was ill, or when it’s appropriate to administer medicines.I don’t think I ever fully appreciated what it was like to have a sick child, until my own children fell ill.”

Unsurprisingly, 89 percent said that their lives completely changed after introducing baby into the world.

With so much change, does it ever get better — or easier? Duh. The survey asked moms when things started getting easier and turns out 11 months old is when they started feeling the happiness of life with baby since she’s feeling confident in her ability to do so.

What was the toughest thing about having a newborn?

Plus, more from The Bump:

7 Hilarious New-Mom Reactions to Life With Baby

Baby Boot Camp: How to Survive Life With a Newborn

Best (and Worst!) Things About Having a Newborn