There is no denying that becoming a mother changes not only your body, but also your entire perception and idea of self.
All of a sudden, you are no longer the most important person in your own life. Yes, motherhood is exquisitely beautiful and amazing on so many levels, but there is no denying that it is also, to so many of us, a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – to say the least.
Interestingly, a new study (published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ) is now shedding some light on the often fragile self-image and self-esteem women struggle with as mothers.
The study, led by psychologist Wiebke Bleidorn, was conducted on a whopping 85,000 pregnant Norwegian women, who were asked to fill out questionnaires throughout their pregnancies and into the first few years of their children’s lives.
What Bleidorn and his team found? Most women’s self-esteem seemed to take a sizeable dip during pregnancy, certainly the last few weeks, rebound a little after giving birth and into the first six months of their child’s life.
But then things get a little worse again, with many new mums admitting to hitting a low point when their child reaches three years old. According to MyDomaie, the study authors theorize that this up-and-down pattern is due to a fear of giving birth, anxiety surrounding the health of the baby, body image issues, the challenges that come with the toddler years, and a sense of mastery over child-rearing skills that fluctuates as the child ages.
Sounds all sorts of familiar we think.
The authors are also quick to point out that there is also a matter of culture and social structure in the location the mothers are living. In this case, the Norwegian women in this study enjoy some of the most generous family policies, including a combined 12 months of paid parental leave and universal access to childcare.
“It remains an open question if similar results can be found in mothers from other countries,” the authors write. “It stands to reason that these emotional dips could be even more dramatic in other countries where gender parity isn’t a legislative priority.”
What do YOU think, mamas? Did you find the toddler years tough? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamily.ie