Why Baby’s First Year Is Hardest On Moms

save article
profile picture of Kylie McConville
Updated January 30, 2017
Hero Image
Image: 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.”

Related Video

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?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

mother holding baby clothes
Why Is Getting Rid of Baby’s Old Clothes So Hard?
By Natalie Gontcharova
chrissy teigen at home with her 4 children
Chrissy Teigen Shares the Hardest Part of Being a Mom of Four
By Wyndi Kappes
tired mom holding baby in nursery
Why Black Moms Face Higher Rates of Burnout (and How to Cope)
By A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez
mother in deep thought while holding baby
How the Concept of ‘Matrescence’ Can Help You Navigate Parenthood
By Natalie Gontcharova
Michael Vaughn tik tok about reducing mental stress for wife
One Dad's Viral Tips for Reducing Your Partner's Solo Parenting Stress
By Wyndi Kappes
Even America’s Comedy King Jack Black Struggles With Parenting Anxiety
Even America’s Comedy King Jack Black Struggles With Parenting Anxiety
By Wyndi Kappes
mom hugging young child
How to Cope With the Emotional Aftermath of Another School Shooting
By The Bump Editors
mother pondering while sitting on bed with baby
What to Know About Postpartum Psychosis
By Nehal Aggarwal
mother cuddling newborn baby
8 Things New Parents Can Do for an Easier Postpartum Period
By Elena Donovan Mauer
exhausted mother playing with toddler
Parental Burnout Is Real—Here’s How to Cope
By Marygrace Taylor
mother and baby reading a book on the couch at home
What TikTok’s “Scrunchy Moms” Want You to Know
By Wyndi Kappes
James Van Der Beek attends the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
James Van Der Beek's Viral Parenting Hack for Roadtripping With Six Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding sleeping baby on sofa at home
20 Positive Parenting Affirmations to Boost Your Mental Health
By Nehal Aggarwal
mother holding and comforting baby at home
What Over 70 Percent of Millennial Moms Aren’t Telling You
By Wyndi Kappes
worried mother holding baby while looking out of the window at home
Why Moms Need to Shift Their Perspective on Asking for Help
By Nehal Aggarwal
annoyed mother sitting at table with toddler
The Truth About Mom Rage and How to Tame Your Inner Anger
By Lauren Barth
mother looking at her baby with the ocean in the background
Adjusting to Motherhood May Take Longer Than You Think (and That’s OK)
By Kylie McConville
Allyson Felix Opens Up About Her NICU Journey With Daughter Camryn
Allyson Felix Opens Up About Her NICU Journey With Daughter Camryn
By Nehal Aggarwal
Busy mom entertains her young children at home with a stuffed animal pig.
Mom-Founded Brand Is Setting Up a PTO Fund to Help Moms Take Time Off
By Nehal Aggarwal
dad working from home while his toddler is sitting on his shoulders
How to Ground Yourself for Pandemic Parenting Challenges
By Hunter Clarke-Fields
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List