20 Motherhood Myths You Should Know About

I was in for a rude awakening when I became a mother. I was told motherhood myths such as “Motherhood is great, you will love it!”, “If you breastfeed the weight will come right off”, and “You will never sleep again.” While motherhood is great, I don’t love it all the time. I breastfed both of my girls and I still haven’t lost all of the baby weight from my second who is two. While my sleep wasn’t always great, I did actually sleep and it has improved a lot now that my youngest is two.

While it’s definitely nice to be positive about motherhood, being believing so many shoulds and musts can be damaging to a new mother. I struggled as a new mom (and still do!). I thought to myself, so many people said I would love being a mom, so why don’t I love it? What is wrong with me? Maybe I’m just not a good mom. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mother. I wondered, is motherhood worth it?

mom stressed about motherhood myths

Today’s culture plays a role.

Today’s culture plays a big role in spreading these motherhood myths. Our mothers did not have the internet or social media. If they had a question or needed advice, they asked a close relative, friend, or pediatrician. They didn’t have access to all the information that we have access to today. Access to knowledge is great, but it results in people sharing a lot of information, some of which is true, and some false. Plus, if you try to find answers online you’ll be exposed to an unlimited number of opinions. “Breast is best!” “Screen time is bad!” “Let them cry it out!”

If you scroll on social media you will find plenty of opinions too. People being openly critical of a mom for doing something that goes against a myth that is believed to be true. For example, if a mom posts a photo holding her baby for a nap, she’ll likely get comments like “You shouldn’t hold your baby for a nap!” and “The baby will only want to sleep in your arms now!” Many moms also like to create the image that they are the “perfect mom” on social media, but if you’re unable to live up to that image, you may feel like a failure as a mom. I felt that way plenty of times.

mom reading on phone

20 Motherhood Myths

I believed many motherhood myths before becoming a mom, and believing them added a lot more pressure to an already difficult time. I am sure you have been told many myths and struggle because you believe them. Here are 20 motherhood myths and why they are not true.

Motherhood Myth 1: You will feel ready to have a child.

Many people say that you will just know when it’s time to have a child. I knew that I wanted to be a mom. When I got married I was 35, so I knew I couldn’t wait too long to have kids. I was ready in that sense, like it was now or never. If I wanted to be a mom, I better get started!

It’s really hard to truly feel ready to have a child though because until the baby comes, you have no idea what you’re in store for. I was ready for the idealized version of motherhood such as having a cute little baby to play with. I am still not ready for what I go through on a daily basis being a mom of two!

Motherhood Myth 2: Natural birth is best.

When I was pregnant, many people shared with me that they were able to go through labor without meds and that it’s better for the mom and baby if labor is natural. I ended up putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to try to go through labor without medication.

With my first, I ended up needing to be induced since my water broke, but I didn’t have regular contractions. I still felt pressure to go through labor without an epidural, but my contractions got so intense that I knew that if I didn’t get an epidural I wouldn’t have any energy left to push the baby out. I had a c-section with my second because she was measuring on the large side.

If you’re able to get through labor without medication, that’s great! If you end up needing an epidural, induction, or c-section, that’s great too! A healthy mama and baby at the end of delivery is what is most important. All moms are rockstars, you don’t need to go through a med-free delivery to be one.

Motherhood Myth 3: Bonding happens instantly.

Many assume that as soon as the baby pops out, you will have this intense feeling of love and joy for your baby. That may happen for some. It is also completely normal if after a long and exhausting delivery those feelings take longer to develop. A c-section or traumatic birth could also make the bonding happen more gradually.

I did feel some kind of bonding with my girls initially but the hospital was a rough time for me. It was hard to feel those intense feelings of joy. I barely slept in the hospital and was struggling with breastfeeding. I was in pain, and just could not get comfortable in general. Once we got home, I bonded with my babies, but the bond still took some time to fully develop.

There is a lot of pressure put on moms to feel so much love and happiness right after the baby is born. We have high expectations of what that moment will be like. It is okay to feel whatever you feel. Maybe your bond will be instant, or maybe it will take time to develop. You will get there.

Motherhood Myth 4: Having a child will bring you and your spouse closer.

Perhaps having a child brings some couples closer together. My husband and I have to work a lot harder on our relationship now that we have kids. It’s not just about us anymore. We can’t be spontaneous about planning a trip or a date night. We need to find childcare or go somewhere that is kid-friendly. When we try to have an adult conversation one of my daughters is usually interrupting us and many times we forget what we were trying to talk about.

I also felt some resentment. I was the one who went through nine months of pregnancy and the delivery. I was the one who had postpartum hormonal changes to deal with. I was the one who was trying to breastfeed and if I gave up that would have been on me. My husband was completely supportive of everything I went through, but I found it hard not to feel some resentment since I had to sacrifice more and felt more pressure than he did.

Having a child can still bring you and your spouse closer, but you have to intentionally work on it and not take things for granted. You also have to communicate. Communicating helped me let go of the resentment that I was feeling. A relationship changes a lot once a baby comes into the picture.

distanced couple

Motherhood Myth 5: Breast is best.

Breastfeeding was another topic where I felt a lot of pressure from outside sources. We hear “Breast is best” and “Breast milk is liquid gold”. How is a mom who is struggling with breastfeeding supposed to feel?

Before attempting to nurse, I assumed breastfeeding was easy. You just pop a breast in the baby’s mouth and they go ahead and nurse. How hard could it be? Both my girls had trouble latching. It was so painful that I would cry. I pushed through it. I was producing breastmilk so I felt guilty just giving up on it. After all, “breast is best” so what kind of mom would I be if I gave up on breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a big reason why I did not enjoy the newborn phase. Even though I did breastfeed both of my girls I can tell you that while breastmilk has many wonderful benefits, there are many formulas these days that are quite similar to breastmilk. The phrase “breast is best” is so damaging to mothers who struggle with breastfeeding or just don’t produce. Many who don’t succeed feel like they are bad moms. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A healthy mother is really what is best for a baby.

Motherhood Myth 6: If you breastfeed the weight will come right off.

Does breastfeeding burn calories? Yes, it does. Does that automatically mean that the weight will come right off? Definitely not! Some women are lucky and lose all the baby weight quickly because they are breastfeeding. It’s also very likely that these women are lucky enough to have good genetics.

I didn’t get to my pre-baby weight for my first daughter until I was done breastfeeding. It seemed like my body was holding onto those last 10-15 pounds. I had to change my diet and exercise more in order to lose that last amount. My youngest is over 2 and I’m still not back to my pre-baby weight and it’s not for lack of trying.

There is a lot of pressure to get back to your pre-baby weight. Our bodies grew and birthed a baby and we should be proud of that. Maybe we’re not meant to get back to that same weight. I’m just trying to be healthy for my girls.

Motherhood Myth 7: You will never sleep again.

Does your sleep schedule change after having a baby? Absolutely. Those early days when you get an hour or two of sleep at a time are awful. It feels endless, that this is what your life will be like from now on. You want to stay up after the baby goes to bed to have some time to yourself but you don’t want to stay up too late in case the baby is up a lot during the night.

Believe me, it will get better! It took me until my youngest was almost 2 before my sleep schedule (almost) got back to normal, but I still got sleep before that. We would have a good stretch and then sleep regressions, teething, or sicknesses would cause a bad stretch again. It’s hard, believe me I’ve been there, but you do get through it.

Motherhood Myth 8: You shouldn’t hold a sleeping baby.

There are many sleep “rules” that you are supposed to follow, like “Don’t hold a sleeping baby”, “Don’t bring the baby into your bed”, and “Don’t nurse the baby back to sleep”. These rules are great to try to follow but you may get to the point where you just have to do what you have to do to survive. You shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

Breaking these “rules” may create some sleep habits, but there’s also no habit that you cannot break. I stopped breastfeeding my youngest at 1, but she would still wake up during the night for a bottle. For a while we kept giving her a bottle because that was the quickest way to get her back to sleep and we needed sleep too! She eventually grew out of that habit. You have to do what works best for you and your family.

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Motherhood Myth 9: Sleep when the baby sleeps.

Many people say that you should sleep when the baby sleeps. If only that was so easy! My babies had me trained to their sleep schedule, so even when they started sleeping for longer stretches, it took me longer to adjust. I still woke up expecting them to wake up, and then I had trouble getting back to sleep.

Naps are another story. When the baby will only sleep for a short amount of time I find it really hard to force myself to fall asleep at that same time. I keep thinking “If I fall asleep now I will get X minutes of sleep”, then 15 minutes later “If I fall asleep now I will get Y minutes of sleep.” Then before I know it, the baby is up. Instead of sleeping during naps, my favorite words of advice for new mothers is to take some time for self-care, like reading a book or meditating. There are many self-care tips for busy moms, so I’m sure you can find something that works for you.

Motherhood Myth 10: You should make your own baby food.

When we were starting to feed my oldest solids many articles came out about the metals in store-bought baby food. I was obviously very concerned so I asked our pediatrician about it and was told that the store-bought baby food was still safe, and that the baby would have to consume A LOT of it to have anywhere near a toxic levels of metals. That made me feel a lot more comfortable about giving my daughter store-bought baby food but since I did have a baby food maker we did a combination of store-bought and homemade food for her.

Fast forward to three years later when I was starting my second daughter on solids. My job was a lot more stressful and adding homemade baby food to my to-do list just felt like something extra that I couldn’t take on at the time. Did I feel guilty that I made my first daughter homemade baby food but not my second? I sure did. However, I knew that I could only take on what I could handle and that store-bought baby food was perfectly fine. She loved it!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make homemade baby food at all. If you have the time for it, then go for it! I’m just saying that if you’re not able to make homemade baby food – for whatever reason – you should not feel guilty about that. Our parents gave us store-bought food and we all turned out just fine.

Motherhood Myth 11: Maternity leave is a vacation.

I was not prepared for maternity leave at all. While still pregnant with my first daughter, I bought a bunch of books to read during my maternity leave. I figured that since I wasn’t working for six months I’d be able to get a lot of reading done while my baby napped. I don’t think I ended up picking up any of those books during my leave.

Sleep deprivation left me exhausted. It seemed like my daughter was constantly having diaper blowouts. I’d change her diaper and then a few minutes later she’d need a new outfit. The laundry was piling up. I was breastfeeding and pumping. My daughter didn’t like to be put down for naps so a lot of the time I’d hold her or walk around with her in the baby carrier. I was still sad to return to work when my maternity leave was over but once I got used to it my job felt like more of a vacation than my maternity leave.

I thought things would be easier with my second child but then I had two children who needed my time. Leaving the house with two kids just seemed impossible. I am very thankful for my generous maternity leave and being able to bond with my children. However, maternity leave is not a vacation!

Motherhood Myth 12: All screen time is bad.

While I am definitely not recommending that you let your child sit in front of the TV for 8 hours a day, I do think that moms need a break, and if you use screen time for your break that is okay. There are so many educational shows out there. My daughters even learn from cartoons like Bluey.

My older daughter has a tablet and is learning reading and math by using educational apps. I wish I had the time to sit with my kids and teach them all they need to know, but between working full-time and also needing to get things done around the house, it is very hard to be fully present with my kids whenever they are home. I think screen time can be very helpful when it is used on your terms.

child having screen time

Motherhood Myth 13: There is a best way to potty train a toddler.

I’ve learned that there is not a best way to potty train a toddler. You just have to find the best method that works for you. Some say that letting your child lead the way works best. We tried that with my oldest but then she was nearing 3.5 and not any closer to being potty trained. The 3-day naked method finally worked for her.

My younger daughter started to potty train herself when she was turning 2. She would indicate that she wanted to sit on the toilet and actually go to the bathroom. She’s not fully trained yet, but since she seemed to want to lead the way we’re going with that for now. We may end up having to use one of the more formal methods with her too, but we’ll see. There are many potty training methods out there.

Motherhood Myth 14: What works for one child will work for all.

Every child is different. Children start walking and talking at different ages. Most hit all of the same milestones eventually, just at different paces. It’s difficult not to compare children. You expect siblings to be similar and may worry if a second child isn’t progressing as fast as the first child did.

My younger daughter was a late talker. Her older sister hit all the expected word milestones when she was supposed to, but she barely said anything at 18 months. She had many ear infections her first year. Every time my older daughter brought home a virus, my younger one would catch it and it would turn into an ear infection. The pediatrician did tell us that her speaking would likely be delayed. We even had her evaluated for tubes in the ear and a couple days before her surgery it was canceled since the fluid went away. It was hard not to worry since it felt like she was behind where she should be. Now that daughter is past 2 and talks so much. It’s hard not to compare and be concerned, but most children end up where they are supposed to be eventually.

Motherhood Myth 15: If my children don’t do every activity they will miss out.

These days kids are involved in so many different activities. You don’t want your kids to feel left out if their friends are doing a lot. It’s tough to find the right balance. I want my girls to be exposed to different activities so they can figure out what they like. I also want them to have different opportunities to make friends.

Kids need time to just be kids though. When they’re going from school to homework to activity to another activity, they don’t have time to just relax and have fun. It also adds more stress to our lives as moms to have to be the taxi that takes our kids to each activity. When it gets to the point that you are not able to have any impromptu family time, then the kids are probably doing too much. Creating special family memories that your children will remember down the road is so important too.

Motherhood Myth 16: If my children misbehave in public it is a reflection on me.

We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of the grocery store and your child has a meltdown because they want four different types of cookies. You’re at the toy store buying a birthday gift and your child has a meltdown because they want a toy too. You planned a fun afternoon at the park but then your children throw a fit because they don’t want to leave.

It’s hard not to think that these meltdowns are a reflection on you. I get anxious myself and think that people must see me as a terrible mother since I’m not able to control my children. Tantrums aren’t fun to deal with but they’re completely normal. Children are expressing themselves and don’t have full control of their emotions yet. It’s easy for people to judge, but you’re not a bad mom. The people around you are probably moms who have been there too and are feeling sympathetic towards you. Take a deep breath, you’re doing a great job!

child having tantrum

Motherhood Myth 17: You will love it.

There’s a lot of pressure put on us to love being moms. “Enjoy every moment!” “You will love it!” “You wanted this, you better enjoy it!” I’m so thankful that I get to be a mom to my two daughters, but do I love every moment? No! I think it would be hard to find a mom who loves every single aspect of being a mom. If a mom tells you that she loves everything, she is probably lying.

What was hard for me may be easy for you, but being a mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Setting moms up to have to love every moment is setting them up for failure. When I was going through difficult periods and people were telling me to just love it I wondered what was wrong with me. I wanted to be a mom so bad, so why couldn’t I enjoy every moment? It’s not realistic to enjoy every moment as a mom. If you’re going through a difficult period and are not enjoying being a mom, that’s okay and completely normal.

Motherhood Myth 18: You can do it all.

We’re the generation who can do it all, right? We can be present moms, hold full-time jobs, be supportive wives, keep a clean and organized house, cook healthy meals, and work out so we look good. Honestly, that is pretty much impossible.

Before becoming a mom, I was able to give everything my all. Continuing with that mentality after becoming a mom was setting me up for many breakdowns. We have to set our priorities and focus on what is most important to us at that time. I can’t be the best mom, the best wife, the best employee, and the best house manager all at once. We also have to lean on others and not be afraid to ask for help, whether that is getting help with childcare or hiring a housecleaner.

There is an unrealistic expectation put on moms that we can do it all, and that we can do it on our own. What we can do is set our priorities, do our best, and know that it is okay if something has to come off our plate.

Motherhood Myth 19: Motherhood is natural so you will always know what to do.

We had to study and train in school and for our jobs. However, when you become a mom, you are expected to know what to do right off the bat. You try to be prepared, reading books and researching motherhood essentials, but there is no book or class that can prepare us to become moms. However, there is this expectation that maternal instinct will kick in right after the baby comes out and we will just know what to do.

I have been a mom for over five years now and I’m still trying to figure things out. It is okay to not always know what to do or how to get it done. We can just follow our gut, and if that didn’t work out, we’ll try something different next time. We learn how to be a mom through experience.

Motherhood Myth 20: Motherhood is fulfilling and completes you.

Motherhood has many great moments but it can also be difficult and frustrating. We sacrifice so much as moms. Sometimes I feel like I’m just “mom”. I’ve lost the identity that I had before becoming a mom. There are times that I miss my old life – girls’ nights, relaxing vacations, impromptu date nights, alone time. I can still have those things but it’s a lot harder to accomplish them now.

Motherhood is very rewarding with lots of moments of love and joy. We just sacrifice a lot as moms and a lot of what we do isn’t always seen. So many of the household manager tasks are done behind the scenes. There are days that I feel like I did so much but not really anything at all. If you’re not feeling completely fulfilled as a mom, that is okay.

Move past the myths.

It’s definitely hard to get these myths out of our minds. It takes time and work to move past them, but hopefully we can make things easier for future generations. What are some other motherhood myths you have heard?

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