Here's what experts have to say about real moms' secrets and those you might be harboring.
I have a confession to make: I resented breastfeeding my twins. I stuck it out for nine months because I could hardly deny my boys the health benefits. But forget intimacy and bonding. To me, nursing was a 25-hour-a-week time suck (so to speak). And pumping--in the car, at my desk, on the grimy floor of the Houston airport bathroom--was no delight, either.
It wasn't until I dropped one feeding at around six months--sorry, little dudes, you're having formula for lunch!--that I felt some relief. When I quit altogether, I thought to myself, "Free at last!"
Now, this isn't the type of information I would broadcast then, for fear of sounding like a rotten, whiny mom. Mostly, I kept it to myself. But these days pregnant women and new moms with unpopular opinions, gripes or guilty feelings have a better option: truemomconfessions.com, a website created by former Hollywood producer and mother of three Romi Lassally. "I wanted to give moms a community to share their fears and frailties without judgment or rejection," says Lassally. "The idea was to start a conversation about what motherhood really is, not what it should be."
Proving you're not alone, here are quotes from real moms who vented at Lassally's website, along with expert advice you won't want to miss.
"I hate being pregnant."
"Dear ninth month of pregnancy, I hate you. I hate the 24-hour heartburn and the leaky boobs and the fact that I can't sleep on my tummy anymore."
"I hate peeing all the time and carrying all this extra weight around. I'm fat, ugly, and so freaking uncomfortable. I feel bad when I complain, especially when so many suffer with infertility, but I just find pregnancy a pain."
Expert Advice: Think of pregnancy as an Ironman triathlon: If you didn't suffer, crossing the finish line wouldn't feel as sweet. The discomforts will put the rigors of momhood in perspective; when you're wiped out from round-the-clock feedings, crying jags and diaper changes, you'll think: At least I can sleep on my stomach again!
"I think pregnancy is nine months long so that we are absolutely ready to have the baby," says obstetrician Kara M. Nakisbendi, M.D., co-author of 2006's The Pregnancy Countdown Book: Nine Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice, and Uncensored Truths. It's OK to throw yourself a pity party once in a while, she says. "Cry and feel sorry for yourself, then move on." A gripe session with other moms-to-be is always satisfying. Then take a step back and remind yourself of the awesome task your body is accomplishing.
"I'm not excited about giving birth. In fact, I dread it."
"I wasn't scared of having a baby until the video we saw in childbirth class. Now I'm freaked out. I have 10 weeks to go, so it's a little late now."
Expert Advice: True, childbirth is no tea party, but there's really nothing to be afraid of, says Zoe Weston, a prenatal expert and doula in Paia, Hawaii. In fact, Weston says, fear can actually exacerbate labor pain. "When humans experience fear, our bodies secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream, which causes our muscles to tense up," she explains. "The uterus is a muscle, and when it's tense while trying to have a contraction, this hurts."
If it's the pain you fear, a birth doula can help you relax. So can yoga, walking and those breathing techniques you learned in childbirth class. Plus, you can always opt for an epidural.
"We've stopped having sex."
"My husband and I haven't had sex since I found out I was pregnant--eight months ago. First I was too sick. Then I was huge and didn't feel sexy. The worst part is, I don't miss sex. I know my husband is getting frustrated, and I'm afraid he is going to start to resent me."
Expert Advice: Many women experience no sexual desire during pregnancy, says New York City certified sexuality educator Amy Levine, M.A., founder of sexedsolutions.com. Tell your husband what you're feeling, and find out what he's thinking."He may understand and let you know he's literally taking matters into his own hands," Levine says.Or, he may fess up that he's frustrated, in which case you can agree to alternatives.Manually stimulating him and performing oral sex are always options.Other women give their men the OK to view online porn, Levine adds."If you set the parameters together, you'll be mutually satisfied."
"When I was pregnant, my husband was so afraid of dislodging the baby that we went my entire pregnancy without sex. Now, because I'm breastfeeding, he still feels like he's sharing me with the baby. I don't want to go another year without sex!"
Expert Advice: Carve out time for you and your husband to be together without the baby, even if it's just for one hour a week. "This can help re-establish your connection and make him feel like a partner rather than just a parent," says Levine.
Ease into physical contact by having a make-out session or a massage. Let him know your desires, and in the meantime get a good vibrator to satisfy yourself, advises Levine."While it's a different experience than partnered sex, it's pleasurable and, best of all, asure thing."
If he's still not interested in sex, consider couples therapy, or have him see a therapist on his own.To find a certified sex therapist, contact the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists at aasect.org.
"I'm terrified of having a second."
"I'm pregnant with my second child and worry that I won't love this baby as much as my first."
Expert Advice: "The love for a child is so overwhelming and so unlike any other relationship a woman has that she often can't imagine feeling that same kind of intensity again," says cognitive behavioral therapist Marsha Candela, M.S.W., clinical manager of behavioral health at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. But it will happen--really! The bond with your second baby may be different, but within a family, Candela notes, differences are a good thing.
"I'm afraid I might love our second child more than our first. Our son has a temper, and I worry that I'll compare this tantrumming toddler to our cuddly baby and prefer the baby."
"When we think of the idyllic moments spent with a sweet, delicate newborn, most of us would choose that over battling wills with a 2-year-old," says Candela. But toddlers also laugh and hug and make funny comments. Caring for your sweet but needy infant may actually make you appreciate your toddler more, especially at 2 a.m., when you have to drag yourself out of bed to feed your baby while your toddler is, thankfully, sound asleep.
"I hate breastfeeding."
"Instead of making me feel bonded to my daughter, I feel like she's a leech sucking the life out of me. I feel there is something very wrong with me because the whole act disgusts me. Every day I pray that she will reject breastfeeding."
Expert Advice: If breastfeeding just isn't for you, pumping is a great option if you'd like to provide breast milk for your baby, says Melissa Kotlen Nagin, a certified lactation consultant in New York City, who writes breastfeeding.about.com. "Breast milk will still provide the same power coming from a bottle." A bottle is much healthier for your baby than a daily dose of resentment from you.
"Also pump and store a bank of milk in your freezer so your husband can feed the baby and give you a well-deserved break," Nagin suggests. If you get into the routine of pumping in the morning, when your milk supply is most plentiful, you won't feel so tied down.
"I'm supposed to be happy now that I have a baby, but I'm not."
"I think I have postpartum depression. I have not told anyone because I feel like I would be saying I am unhappy about the baby we tried so hard to get. I can't even admit it to my doctor because she helped me so much through our infertility."
Expert Advice: "OB-GYNs are very familiar with postpartum depression, so I can't imagine your doctor judging you," says Jeanne S. Collins, Psy.D., clinical program director of the Women's Unit at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia. Your difficulty in talking to your doctor may be related to postpartum depression, because feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness are often symptoms of this condition. Other symptoms: persistent sadness, fatigue, irritability, loneliness, emptiness, loss of appetite, mood swings, a desire to isolate yourself from others and difficulty feeling connected to your baby.
The good news: antidepressants and talk therapy can help. Let your doctor evaluate you and make sure that you don't have or develop a rare but more serious disorder called postpartum psychosis, which can cause disorientation, paranoia and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. "I strongly suggest that you confide in your husband, a family member or a trusted friend," Collins says. "People who care about you will understand, and can give you a much-needed break from mothering."
Keep in mind that you did nothing to bring these feelings on. Hormonal and physical changes, exhaustion, a past history of depression or mood disorders, and even lifestyle stressors can all contribute to postpartum depression.
"I don't like being a stay-at-home mom."
"I have a 2-month-old, and I hate when people ask me if I like motherhood. Should I tell them that I can't stand losing sleep and being isolated all day with a person whose only form of communication is crying? Usually I just fake smile and say how wonderful it is; but the truth is, I can't wait until my baby goes to kindergarten or I go back to work."
Expert Advice: "In our society, it is unpopular to say anything negative about motherhood," says psychologist Deborah Roth Ledley, Ph.D., author of 2008's Becoming a Calm Mom: How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood. In truth, motherhood brings on a range of emotions, from bliss to exasperation.
There's nothing wrong with feeling frustrated, sad, lonely, irritated or bored from time to time."The problem is labeling these emotions as unacceptable," Ledley says. News moms will fare better by thinking: "OK, I feel frustrated right now.Totally normal." In public, sure, we all need a pat response for acquaintances we see in the grocery store, Ledley adds, but new moms also need confidants such as a spouse, a fellow new mom or a therapist.
Being a stay-at-home mom isn't for everyone, and that's OK! "Some moms work because they have to provide for their families, while others work to keep their sanity," says familytherapist Kimberley Clayton Blaine, M.A., M.F.T., founder of thegotomom.tv and author of 2009's Mommy Confidence: 8 Easy Steps to Reclaiming Balance, Motivation and Your Inner Diva. She went back to work three months after the birth of each of her children because she was going "stir crazy."
Says Blaine, "Who are we to judge what another mother needs? A happy and confident mom breeds a happy and contented baby."