Adjusting to Motherhood May Take Longer Than You Think (and That’s OK)

Here's how long it takes for new moms to work out their new routines and feel the confidence they'll need to navigate any situation, according to a study.
ByKylie McConville
January 2, 2020
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It takes new moms four months and 23 days to adjust to motherhood, a new baby and a new lifestyle, according to a study led by the baby brand Munchkin.

“Becoming a mom for the first time leads to a flurry of mixed emotions and it can naturally be completely overwhelming. It’s one of the best things that can happen to someone but it can understandably be very scary too,” said Claire Rayner, a spokeswoman for Munchkin. But researchers found that after nearly five months, new moms learn what baby’s different cries mean; the stopped worrying about dealing with baby in public; they learn to be armed more snacks, spare clothes and diapers than they could ever dream; and they also get over the hump of exhaustion, tears and frustration that come with new motherhood. According to their findings, it takes four months and 23 days for new moms to work out their new routines and to feel the confidence they’ll need to navigate any situation.

Researchers found that during pregnancy, one out of every two moms-to-be admitted they were nervous and scared of becoming a mother, while one-in-four said they were completely daunted by motherhood. And more than half of the women polled during pregnancy admitted to being overwhelmed after they gave birth. In fact, 57 percent said that their first few months after baby was born passed by in a “bit of a blur” because they were so worried with getting everything right.

“What the results show is that, no matter how daunting motherhood can seem, moms have incredible resources to get through the early days and feel like they have things under control. It’s a massive change and the floor of self-doubt and worry is perfectly natural,” Rayner said, “but the fact they care so much only proves what good moms they’ll eventually develop into.”

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Two-thirds of the moms surveyed admitted that the worry and exhaustion that came with being a new parent lead them to burst into tears. Looking back, though, 6 out of 10 say they wish they hadn’t worried as much as they did at the time.

Some other interesting facts from the study:

  • 47 percent of new moms were surprised at the amount of time it took for them to properly get the hang of motherhood.
  • 6 in 10 experienced a period of time where they worried that they weren’t capable of being a mom.
  • A third of the moms who participated in the Munchkin study felt so worried that they at some point confided in a friend or family member that they didn’t think they were a good parent.
  • A fifth of the mothers didn’t talk to anyone about their worries because they didn’t want to be thought of as failing or to admit they were struggling in their new role.
  • 1 in 5 new moms felt that their partners settled into the role of parenthood quicker than they did, which led them to be envious.

Following the results, Rayner said, “It’s perhaps reassuring that so many moms went through the same period of worry as it shows just how common a reaction it is to feel that you might not cope. What is important is not being afraid to voice those worries and let your friends, family and support network help you as  much as they can. It’s always going to take time to adjust, but the more ways they can find to help them cope, the quicker that feeling of confidence in being a mom will develop. Those first few months can be understandably a real struggle, but it’s important to try and savor them too—as the results show, in hindsight most moms wish they’d been able to worry a bit less.”

So stop and savor the moment, mama. You’ll get there. It may take four months and 23 days to finally feel like you’ve got it down pat, but in the meantime, rest assured—you’re doing great!

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