Can breastfeeding cause anxiety?

Can breastfeeding cause anxiety?

 

Ummm… yes.

 

Breastfeeding can be such a loaded topic, right? For something that’s supposed to be natural and just part of daily life as a mother of a baby, it can definitely cause a lot of stress! 

Not only are there some really damaging and annoying societal conversations (people who say “breast is best” or shame parents for using formula…), but breastfeeding can also cause anxiety. 

*And* to add more difficulty to the mix, it’s not actually physically straightforward for a lot of women. A lot of new moms have a hard time learning how to nurse their baby, have latch problems, issues with pain, etc. So if you’re experiencing anxiety while breastfeeding or the logistics around feeding your baby are stressing you out, you’re in the right place. 

This isn’t easy. In my practice, I see a lot of women who are anxious about breastfeeding their baby or are experiencing high levels of shame because it’s not going well. Seriously, this problem is way more common than you think. There’s nothing—I repeat nothing—wrong with you. Promise. 

The below list is intended to explain why breastfeeding can cause anxiety so that you can feel informed, validated… and normal. 

 

Supply. 

You would think that milk supply wouldn’t be an issue. We usually think that breastfeeding is supposed to be this natural thing where your body instinctively knows what your little baby needs, right? But even though it’s a natural function, it doesn’t always go smoothly. A lot of women have an undersupply or an oversupply of breastmilk. That first one can be especially stressful. You might notice yourself worrying about whether you’re going to produce enough milk and stressing about what to do if you don’t. And that brings me to my next point… 

 

Societal pressure. 

The societal pressures never stop. Especially for women. Before you have kids, you’re expected to check a bunch of—quite frankly—stupid boxes. Be thin, be pretty, be “successful” (but not too successful), find an ideal partner, etc. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that there are tons of ridiculous expectations put on women during early motherhood. Many revolve around breastfeeding which can certainly bring out anxiety. Here are some of the most common pieces of bullsh*it advice that you’re totally allowed to just block out and ignore: 

  • “Breast is best! You should only feed your baby breastmilk and never formula.” 
  • “You should breastfeed your baby until they are X age. Not a second earlier and not after that either!” 
  • “You shouldn’t breastfeed in public.”
  • “Don’t ever drink alcohol while breastfeeding.”
  • “Formula is bad and you shouldn’t give it to your baby.” 

Yeah. No to all of this. You know what’s best for you and your baby. You get to decide how you’ll feed him/her. 

 

Pain. 

Ugh. Yet another way that women experience physical pain right? Periods, pregnancy, birth, birth recovery… and now this too?! Breastfeeding doesn’t always hurt but it often does. Some women experience latch difficulties, cracked nipples, or their baby is too rough. That can bring on anxiety because feeding time physically hurts! If this is describing your experience, know that there are many lactation consultants that can help—either with education online, a class or an in-person consultation. 

 

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Perfectionism.

Perfectionism has a way of ruining everything! This is a sneaky one because most perfectionists are already dealing with high-functioning anxiety. If this is one of your tendencies, you might think you’re doing yourself all kinds of favours, but you’re not. All you’re doing is creating unrealistic expectations for yourself… which leads you to feeling angry when you fall short. (And cue the depression that follows!) 

If you have these types of tendencies, this is how your perfectionism might show up when it comes to breastfeeding: 

  • “I have an undersupply. I’m a failure.”
  • “I’m just not getting the hang of this! Isn’t this supposed to come naturally?”
  • “I’m probably doing this wrong.”
  • “Am I eating all the right things to ensure that my milk is perfect?” 
  • “My breasts have changed and I’m not sure if I like how they look.” 

 

Body image anxiety. 

Why do body image issues have the reputation of being exclusively a teenage issue? As women at any age, it’s so hard to ignore beauty standards or not compare ourselves to others. Anxiety is what drives these kinds of issues because you’re worrying about being perceived as good enough and you’re using mental energy to think about potential steps you plan to take to change yourself. With pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, a lot changes! That can be really triggering for a lot of women. This might sound like:

  • “How am I going to get my body back?” 
  • “Every time I breastfeed, I’m faced to look at a part of my body that has changed so much.”
  • “Worrying about what I can and can’t eat to ensure safe/healthy milk is reminding me of restrictive diets/disordered eating issues from my past.”

 

Feeling touched out. 

Anxiety can be triggered when both emotional and physical needs aren’t met. That includes physical, personal space and control over your own body. The very nature of breastfeeding can feel like it violates both of those things. If you’re feeling anxious because your baby always needs your body, that’s a fairly common reaction. (Even if others aren’t always talking about it.) Sometimes you just feel touched out! 

 

Baby health anxiety. 

A lot of women struggle with health anxiety as their child’s health is practically in their hands. As kids grow up, health anxiety manifests as worrying about them getting a bad diagnosis, contracting a bug, or getting really sick. This can start as early as the first days after they’re born. If breastfeeding is causing anxiety or you have anxiety while you’re breastfeeding, it could be because you’re worried about passing something to your baby, triggering an allergy because of something in your milk, or feeling overly cautious about the glass of wine you had with dinner and worrying if it’s out of your system. So yeah, if you’re feeling anxious during feeding times, there’s a good reason for that! 

Breastfeeding is one of the many, many things during motherhood that can trigger anxiety. If this topic hits close to home, don’t feel ashamed or as though something is “wrong” with you. While underrated—and under discussed—breastfeeding can be challenging in many ways.

If breastfeeding has been a struggle for you, reach out and get support! I lead a team of perinatal therapists at The Canadian Perinatal Wellness Collective. Even just a few sessions with a therapist can dramatically improve your experience in motherhood. And for some DIY mental health care, check out my anxiety workbook for moms. This tool is a great starting point to get clear on where anxiety comes from and the impact it can have. 

 

Is period anxiety a thing!?

Is period anxiety a thing!?

 

Totally a thing. You’re not imagining it!

 

Monthly cycles are a part of life for most of us. And even though they are natural, predictable (mostly), and just part of being a woman… they can really take a toll. Physically and mentally. 

We know about PMS (premenstrual syndrome), mood changes that can happen during your period, and that general icky feeling at this time of month. (Ummm, yeah maybe we’re a little too acquainted with those things!) The mood dips is what I really want to address. Specifically: period anxiety. 

“Is period anxiety a thing?” you might find yourself asking as you notice yourself feeling on-edge, nervous for no apparent reason, or like you’re in a heightened state of awareness. The answer is yes. You may have noticed yourself freaking out over your career path (Am I on track? Am I doomed to fail? Is my boss mad at me?) just to get your period later that day. Or consider this situation: ruminating all night, losing sleep, and waking up feeling like you’ve already lost the day. Then, boom! Your period starts. 

But why does your period cause anxiety? And what can you do about it

 

Is period anxiety a thing?

Period anxiety is totally a thing. It can definitely take a toll on you emotionally and have you getting stuck on certain anxiety-fuelled thoughts like wondering if you’re a bad mom or if you’re passing your anxiety onto your kids. What’s at play here? 

First things first, hormones play a starring role. 

Your menstrual cycle is a delicate dance of hormone fluctuations, and as your period approaches (especially the week prior), levels of estrogen and progesterone start to shift. These hormonal changes can impact your brain chemistry, specifically the neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotions, like serotonin. When this is out of whack, it can lead to heightened anxiety. 

But hormones aren’t the sole culprits (Ughh… so many crappy moving parts here.) There’s also the emotional baggage that comes with menstruation. Society, unfortunately, has a way of stigmatizing periods. From a young age, we’re bombarded with negative messages about periods which bring on shame, body image issues, embarrassment and low self-esteem. And you wonder why you’re feeling extra anxious during this time? Yeah, makes sense! 

Now, there’s also the fact that our mental and physical selves are connected. When you’re not feeling great physically, your emotions can take a hit. Physical discomfort, like cramps and fatigue, can totally exacerbate our emotional state. Dealing with pain and feeling physically drained can make us more susceptible to feeling anxious or overwhelmed. It’s like adding fuel to the anxiety fire. 

We’re not all alike. Some women experience really bad emotional symptoms and period anxiety whereas other women barely have any. And our symptoms certainly shift as well! One thing to pay attention to though, is the severity of how you’re hit emotionally during these days. And that brings me to my next point… 

 

What is PMDD? 

If the anxiety (or other mood issues) you deal with during your period are really strong or even unbearable, consider the fact that you *could* be dealing with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). PMDD is when women experience mood disturbances during their menstrual cycle that are beyond that typical emotional dips that can happen during this time of month. 

This is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects a small percentage of menstruating individuals. It’s characterized by intense emotional and physical symptoms that occur in the days or weeks leading up to menstruation. These symptoms can include severe mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and physical discomfort. PMDD significantly impacts daily functioning and overall well-being, often requiring medical intervention such as medication, therapy, or lifestyle changes for effective management.

Remember, you are the expert of your story and your experiences. If you think something is worth looking into, it probably is. Advocate for yourself and push to get the right answers, diagnosis, and tools that will make your life easier. 

 

How to soothe period anxiety

We’re taught to self-sacrifice and just deal with things but that really shouldn’t be the case. I say this all the time: you deserve your own love, energy, and attention. You deserve to feel like yourself even on days when you’re a little low. When you’re on your period and anxiety is really doing a number of you, make self-care happen. I know, I know. That can sound annoying but there’s truth to it. And I also say this all the time: let it be easy and simple. 

Assess how your cycle is affecting you right now. Is it intolerable? Just fine? A bit anxiety inducing at times but otherwise ok? The more you tune into what your body is telling you, the better able you’ll be to know which type of self-care is most likely to help. 

Remember that self-care isn’t about pampering yourself, it’s about tending to your individual needs. If this is a struggle, here are some ways you could do that:

    1. Look inwards. It can’t all be about the kids all the time, always. So carve out some time and space for you to get really honest about your needs and which ones aren’t being met. Our needs fit five categories: mental, physical, social, spiritual and environmental. When you read that, which one(s) do you think are lacking?  
    2. Adjust your calendar. If you know that your period, or the week before, tends to hit you really hard (either now or always), plan for it as much as possible! Seriously, your future self will thank you so much. Sure, it’s not like you can just not go to work, but you can meal prep, stock up on feel-good foods for your soul, take care of harder projects in advance, or enlist help! Give some thought to how you can reduce the load. 
    3. Plan a friend date. Ok, sometimes your partner and kids just don’t get it. (And soooometimes during your period, it might feel like they are making things worse!) So plan a friend date. Friends see you and they get it. We all have the need to connect with others so pick something (be it gentle yoga, a quiet dinner, or even just running Saturday morning errands together) and give yourself that lift! 

Period anxiety is definitely a thing! Now you know why. Hopefully, you’re feeling validated, seen, and like your experiences are normal. Being a woman is super freaking hard! It just is. If you need support to get through this time, I have a team of therapists trained to guide you through your specific needs. Reach out! And always know that you are worthy of your own support—especially when you’re down! 

And of course, I have a resource for that! Do you already have a copy of my self-care workbook for moms? This is a freebie tool that will help you get clear on areas where you need to give back to yourself, goal setting, and roadblocks that might be getting in the way of properly caring for yourself. Check it out here

 

Why pregnancy is the perfect storm for anxiety

Why pregnancy is the perfect storm for anxiety

 

What causes anxiety during pregnancy?

 

So pregnancy is taking a toll on your mental health. You feel unbelievably anxious about what lies ahead. Birth? Might seem terrifying. You have no idea how you’ll do when that moment comes. Becoming a mom? You *know* you can do it, but being in charge of a vulnerable new baby makes you nervous. Plus there’s all the unknowns: the health of the baby, the ways your life will change, if your birth plan will go as desired, how your relationship will change, and how the remaining stages of your pregnancy will go. 

For a time that’s often portrayed as “exciting,” this has been feeling intensely stressful, right? You thought pregnancy was shrieking in excitement once receiving a positive test, a healthy glow, cute maternity clothes and decorating the baby’s room. Instead it’s anxiety, “what if” thinking, intrusive thoughts, and physical discomfort. Those are all really hard to deal with. 

Whether you’re not excited about being pregnant, you’re dreading some of what lies ahead, or you’re dealing with strong waves of anxiety that you never saw coming, your mental health might need a bit more care during this time. In this post, my goal is to help you understand why anxious thoughts are so common during these months. 

 

 

What causes anxiety during pregnancy?

If you’re someone who struggles with (or is prone to) anxiety, pregnancy can be the perfect storm to trigger that. You’re not the only one! Here are some of the main reasons why things might be feeling less than calm right now. 

 

Anxiety lives in the future. Pregnancy is a temporary state that largely focuses on what’s ahead.

If you’re reading the resources, following the mental health accounts online, and/or going to therapy, this might sound familiar. Anxiety lives in the future. So what does that mean exactly? 

Speaking specifically about anxiety, it means that the things that are taking away from your mental wellbeing are thoughts focused on what’s to come. This can look like what if scenarios (“What if the baby isn’t healthy?” “What if I have a traumatic birth?”), worrying about things that haven’t happened yet (“Am I going to be a good enough mom?”) or feeling anxious about the future in general (“I can’t rest until I’m sure this child will have a happy, healthy life!). 

Pregnancy can really trigger this because it’s a very temporary, short-term state that largely focuses on the future. Think about it. You’re not going to be pregnant forever, it’s literally a transition time. When you find out that you’re pregnant, you have nine months to prepare. Suddenly, the focus shifts from the present moment to what lies in the near future: giving birth, learning how to become a parent, raising a child. In many ways, that nine months is a kind of limbo or waiting period. That’s anxiety inducing! Your mindset becomes largely focused on before or after the due date. That’s a very different feeling from just living your days as they come where the shifts and life changes occur more gradually.   

 

Perinatal anxiety starts during this phase.

When we talk about “perinatal” anything (i.e. perinatal mental health, the perinatal period, perinatal anxiety), we are talking about the time from pregnancy up until one year postpartum. This is such a critical time for women—particularly for mental health—as so much changes. The perinatal stage is just difficult for so many women. If you find that you’re anxious, unsettled, on-edge and just not feeling like yourself these days, but you’re unable to really articulate what’s bothering you, this is something to keep in mind. 

Perinatal anxiety is the uptick of anxiety symptoms (like panic attacks, an uneasy stomach, feeling like you can’t calm down or self-regulate, feeling reactive, or obsessing over minor things) that happens during this time period in someone’s life. It’s exactly like general anxiety with the only difference being its onset and that it’s triggered by this specific stage. 

 

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Past experiences of loss or miscarriage can come up. 

If you’re pregnant after having experienced miscarriage or infant loss, your emotions might be running high right now. And they may include many feelings that are not positive. For a lot of women, excitement or happiness get majorly overshadowed by anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, sadness as you relive or continue processing what happened, or sometimes jealousy of those who haven’t experienced what you have. 

A lot of women who have loss or miscarriage in their history just feel like they can’t be happy or excited yet because they’re scared about what could go wrong. Things like check-ups, medical care appointments, planning for the baby, sharing the pregnancy news, creating a birth plan, or choosing a baby name can bring on a lot of anxiety for this group. 

 

So much about the baby remains unknown. 

When you’re pregnant, suddenly so many unknowns are introduced to your life. The unknowns about your baby can be particularly upsetting. That makes so much sense when you think about it. There are the immediate concerns like how your pregnancy will go and how your baby is doing as she develops. Then there are the fears around birth and the early days for both of you. It can also feel pretty strange to not yet know anything about this person who you’re about to be tied to for the rest of your life. Their personality, needs, strengths, interests, and difficulties are all going to take a significant amount of your thoughts and energy and yet all of these things remain question marks as you just wait for them to arrive. That can feel… unsettling and pretty weird. You’re not alone there!  

 

Physical changes and thinking about birth can impact your mental state. 

Mind and body are connected. We hear that all the time, right? But usually, we hear that in the context of why working out and eating a balanced diet improves mood. Being pregnant and experiencing physical changes (rapidly!) is another physical element that can have an impact on your mental health. Our bodies are our homes so if you’re feeling tired, lethargic, uncomfortable in your usual sleeping positions, or disconnected from your appetite which is now raging allll the time, that has an effect on you! Plus, let’s just acknowledge that body image issues are not just for teenagers or young adults. Past body image issues may be triggered as you continue to change… or new ones might emerge. So much is changing so fast and it can be hard to not recognize your own body.

As your baby continues to develop (and you both grow), birth might start to be on your mind a lot more too. Thinking about labour and how giving birth is going to go can feel… really scary. This is one of those things where the anticipation and thinking about it can make everything feel so much harder. No wonder anxiety seems to be at a high!  

 

Various appointments can trigger medical anxiety.

If you’re someone who suffers from medical or health anxiety, being pregnant can bring on so many triggers. There are way more appointments, check-ins with healthcare providers, tests, and changes to your body to pay attention to. Plus, you may find yourself being hyper aware of things like food safety, not being around those who are sick, and protecting yourself. Many women find this all to be so stressful. And when you go in for your scheduled checks, if certain appointments don’t go as planned, you might find yourself constantly searching for more information or waiting until the next appointment to get reassurance and peace of mind. 

There are also so many medical checks that you won’t be familiar with if this is your first pregnancy (like ultrasounds, and blood tests). It can be a steep learning curve and if physical checks and trusting others with your body makes you queasy, that can be so hard to adjust to. 

 

Starting a whole new life can feel really scary. 

Hey, it’s human nature to worry a little bit when things feel new and unfamiliar. Remember all of those first days of school? Remember starting a new job and wondering how you’d perform? What about moving to a new place? Starting a new chapter is HARD! I mean, that’s why most of us have established comfort zones that we like to stay in, right?

This chapter is now different. It’s perfectly acceptable for pregnancy to bring on crazy anxiety as you brace yourself for what’s right around the corner. This can sound like, “Omg! I didn’t think I’d get pregnant right away. This is happening too fast!” Or, “How am I actually going to raise a child?! I have no idea what I’m doing!” Or even, “There’s no way I’m going to be a mom in a mere three months. I need more time to prepare!” 

 

So much is out of your control as you wait in limbo. 

There’s that saying, “You think you have control, but all you really have is anxiety.” That might make you laugh because really, it’s true. So much anxiety stems from wanting to gain control over the uncontrollable. Perfectionists, type A people, over workers, those who plan everything to a tee, and people with high standards might relate to this. If you’re always trying to gain control over every single situation and make things go just your way and exactly as planned, pregnancy can be a huge challenge. 

In other scenarios, you might gain “control” over your anxiety by overworking yourself to get ahead or being overly organized to prevent a mishap. During pregnancy though, you’re kind of stuck in limbo. You can’t start practicing breastfeeding now, you can’t do a trial run of your first weeks postpartum, and your five-year plan (if you’re that person) is probably in danger because life’s about to get really unpredictable. This together can all feel like a serious trial. 

If you’re pregnant and your anxiety is getting the best of you, it’s helpful to know that that’s a surprisingly common experience. Hopefully this post has helped you understand why anxiety can really pick up during this phase of your life. If there’s one thing I want you to take with you though is that just because anxiety is present right now doesn’t mean that you automatically have to tolerate it as it’s showing up. You don’t have to spend nine months worrying or feeling uneasy. You can get proper support to help you adapt to this chapter in a way that feels much easier. This is temporary and it will pass. 

 

Tap this image to learn more about my FREE workshop for Anxiety in Motherhood

 

 

Are you currently pregnant and feeling overwhelmed with anxiety? I’ve created a free workshop for mothers about anxiety, what it looks like, how it feels, and how to best manage it so it stops robbing you of your joy during this phase of your life. It’s totally free! Check it out here

 

25 truths about motherhood women are too scared to admit to their friends

25 truths about motherhood women are too scared to admit to their friends

 

None of you will say it, but you’re all *thinking* it…

 

I always strive to support women through motherhood as best as I can. I have based my entire career on educating mothers on the realities of pregnancy, postpartum and early parenthood and how those affect mental health. I create educational resources, provide mental health support, suggest wellness tools, and spread information about these chapters. 

And sometimes the best way I can support you is by just telling it as it is. Words can have a lot of power. Articulating common experiences during the perinatal phase can be so validating because it means that a) you’re seen and reassured that what you’re going through is quite common and b) someone else has put language to your reality so you don’t have to. 

 

 

One of the most bullsh*it things about motherhood is that we’re expected to accept it in all of its craziness, adjust without problems, never complain, and even enjoy it all the time. I’m sorry but those are some wildly unrealistic expectations! 

There are some (many) parts of motherhood that are just really hard and inherently difficult. I’m talking about the physical pain you endure before and after birth, the anxiety you feel during pregnancy, the stress that comes up when your baby won’t stop crying, and all the minor losses that you must grieve as you make one of the biggest transitions you will make in your entire life. 

What makes matters worse is the guilt we as mothers often feel. There’s so many things that are just freaking hard… but we’re often too scared to admit it out loud. Why? Because what if it means something about us as mothers? What if we appear not to love our kids or we seem ungrateful? What if we say how we *really* feel and others don’t get it and just make us feel worse? These are all valid concerns. But if you’re having a hard time, I still want you to know that that’s a valid way to feel. 

Below are 25 truths about motherhood that are common but fairly uncomfortable to admit out loud to friends. How many have you related to recently? 

 

1. I’m not excited about my pregnancy

This is so common. I mean I hear this all the time. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or a subsequent one, you may just not feel that ecstatic joy that society expects you to have. That’s ok. Maybe you’re worried about giving birth, getting a postpartum mood disorder, or you’re nervous because you don’t entirely feel ready. A lot of women find out they’re pregnant and feel shock, disappointment, frustration, fear, or anxiety. Some also experience negative emotions towards their baby. It’s so common. Not just you I promise. 

 

2. I’m not doing well

You’re not doing well but for some reason, when your friends ask, you’re unable to say so. Instead, you keep conversations surface level or only report the good stuff. What would happen though if you were to confide in your friends and say something along the lines of, “Hey, things are feeling overwhelming and not great at the moment. I need a bit of emotional support.” In all likelihood your mom friends would understand and even feel the same. Your friends without kids may also have the capacity to take you out for lunch and listen with non-judgmental ears. 

 

3. I secretly hate my partner 

This happens. Most relationships take a hit after having a baby. When you really think about it, that makes sense. So many things literally change overnight and suddenly you just don’t have the same time, capacity, and energy to connect like you used to. For moms, the balance of things can also feel so unfair. You had to be pregnant for nine months. You gave birth. You have to breastfeed. And now you are doing the bulk of the household chores, night waking, meal prep, etc. Sometimes all your partner has to do is chew too loudly and you want to kill him. I have a course that addresses this resentment and relationship imbalance. Check it out here.  

 

Tap this image to learn more about my course Sharing the Load of Parenting 

 

4. I’m scared of the thoughts that pop into my head sometimes

Intrusive thoughts in motherhood are so common and can be so scary. They usually focus on harm coming to you or your children. And guess what? They thrive on shame and silence. If you want to take their power away, try opening up with a friend you trust. “Ugh my brain is so weird sometimes. I always visualize these crazy pool accidents.” Since intrusive thoughts are so common, it’s more than likely that your friend has a few of her own to share. 

 

5. I regret having kids 

This is such a tough feeling to sit with and it can be hard to have a thought like this without feeling guilt, shame, self-criticism, fear, and then further regret. Some moms immediately love motherhood. Some don’t. If you have doubts as to whether or not you’d go back and do it all differently, you’re part of a really big group of women. Sometimes finding *your* people can make all the difference in this experience. Maybe you’re not into a traditional approach to parenthood (but society has you feeling like you should). In a case like that, finding the right friends who share your values can be a great way to make the experience more positive.

 

6. I’m lonely 

We need to feel heard, seen, witnessed and held. When we don’t have that, loneliness and isolation kicks in. It’s so tempting to only show the positive side of motherhood when secretly, you wish you had a close mom friend to confide in. 

 

7. I’m not sure if I’m any good at this

Every mom feels this way sometimes. What if you could kick off a conversation with the *right* group of mom friends and all have a good laugh together about the things that have gone wrong lately? You accidentally sent your kids to school with frozen lunches. Your friend forgot to bring her child’s bag to the camping weekend and had to improvise. These things can feel like failures in the moment but they’re relatively harmless and it can relieve a lot of stress if you laugh about yourselves together. 

 

8. I miss my old self

You miss spending your money and time on you. You miss your old routine and having less responsibilities to constantly take care of. You miss girls nights, your old wardrobe, solo travels and your yoga group. Sure, you wanted this life and you like your current life as well. But sometimes you just miss those days! 

 

9. I feel disconnected from my body 

Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mom life took a toll. Things don’t look or feel the same physically. You don’t feel at home in your own body anymore and maybe body image issues are also coming up. You don’t say anything to your friends because it seems like a silly thing to complain about. Really though, it’s totally justified. This is such a common experience, that I actually created a free resource to improve body image issues. Get it here

 

10. I’m going through a hard time with my relationship

You may not be at the level where you hate or actively dislike your partner, but things might feel strained and just out of sync. Sex postpartum can feel weird or even scary. And with so many new things to tackle, it may have been weeks since you really had a deep conversation. This is so common for couples after a baby comes into the picture that I’m positively sure that someone in your life will understand. My course that addresses certain relationship challenges postpartum is also here so if you want to do some research on your own first, that’s up to you! 

 

11. I don’t actually know if I’m connecting with my baby

It doesn’t have to be love at first sight. Maybe nobody told you but the connection between you and your baby will grow over time. Sure, some mothers feel that love and connection instantly, but plenty don’t! If you were to get honest with your circle of friends, surely more than one person would relate. 

 

12. I haven’t felt like myself since having kids

These mom confessions aren’t just for mothers of babies or really young kids. Motherhood can quickly turn into a self-sacrificing endeavor if you don’t catch it. You used to have the cute apartment, go out dancing with friends, or host dinner parties. And you can totally get back to that! Having this conversation is the kind of thing that can prompt a girl’s night, friend trip or commitment to a new hobby. (I tried roller skating this year!) Rather than suffering in silence, bringing this feeling to light can inspire change for more than just you.  

 

13. I’m really worried I’m going to cause harm to my kids 

This is related to intrusive thoughts again. Most of us have an intrusive thought or two that comes up again and again. Yours might be something like fearing you’ll leave the stove on and your kid will burn herself or worrying that you’ll drown your baby in the bath. These thoughts just… happen. The good news is that they hold less power the more you admit how silly they are. If you have scary intrusive thoughts, here’s a workshop that will help.

 

Tap this image to learn more about my workshop How to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts

 

14. I just want alone time 

To go out with friends, to watch lighthearted shows on Netflix, to cook up a storm, to sleep in, to read, to do a long workout, to travel, or to do absolutely nothing. Sometimes you just want time and space for you. Sometimes you actually don’t want to be with your family. Nothing wrong with that! 

 

15. If I were to go back in time, I’m not sure I’d become a mom 

As a therapist, I’ve seriously heard it all. And I’ve heard this mom confession dozens and dozens of times. The funny thing about saying something—even the “worst” thing—out loud, is that that very act can minimize its impact. Say this to your friend who really gets you and you might be met with a huge sigh of relief and a “OMG me too!” Motherhood is just HARD. Maybe you both need an afternoon to vent about what’s causing the regret and a good chat about what you’d be doing instead in another life. It’s good to daydream because by looking at it rather than avoiding it, you may come up with some creative ways to invite more joy and excitement into your current life. Yeah, a chat like this could also bring up some FOMO or jealousy but isn’t that still more productive than hiding in shame and letting a thought like this eat at you? 

 

16. I’m jealous of women who don’t have kids 

You might see what other childless women are doing and feel that pang of envy because you wish you could do that too. Maybe they seem lighter or freer but you don’t actually know what they’re dealing with. Even though it’s normal to compare sometimes, that can intensify things like postpartum depression, anxiety and low self-worth. A lot of weight can also be lifted by just confiding in a friend. “You know, sometimes I envy women without kids.” Boom weight lifted! If you’re thinking this a lot, maybe it’s time to give back to yourself. My self-care challenge is a way to do that. Plus, it’s free. 

 

17. My partner doesn’t get it 

A lot of women end up feeling that their partners take them for granted or don’t recognize all that they do in order to keep the family going. Resentment stems from unmet needs. Do you know which of your needs aren’t being tended to? Full disclosure: most of your friends’ partners don’t get it either. The longer you all keep quiet about it, the longer it’ll take for them to become aware. 

 

18. I’m running on fumes

What if you were to just say it like it is next time your friends ask? “I’m running on fumes. Motherhood is burning me out. I’m tired and I need more support.” Sometimes it’s wise to get professional support before you really feel like you need it so that you don’t reach a breaking point. 

 

19. Sometimes I don’t know if I like my kid and that makes me feel guilty

One really weird thing about motherhood that most people absolutely don’t talk about is that you don’t get to pick your kids. You can raise them as best as you can, you can lead by example, and you can illustrate your values. But you don’t get to choose their personalities and for some moms, there can be clashes that are hard to sit with. There’s only so much you can control or influence and if you’re having a hard time letting go of that, you’re definitely not alone. 

 

20. I miss the social life I had before kids 

We know you love your kids. We know you love many elements of your life right now. You can also miss spontaneous evenings out, restaurants or summer travel on *your* itinerary. Both can be true at the same time. 

 

21. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done

From growing a literal child and carrying it around for nine months to figuring out how to actually *raise* her all while keeping a career going, and tending to yourself and your relationship… those are all hard things to do on their own. Now to do them all at once while being expected to go with the flow when days get turned on their head for no reason? Seriously. So. Hard. If you don’t want to admit this to anyone in your life, I’m here to validate that. 

 

22. My expectation of motherhood was different than the reality 

Society focuses on things like “pregnancy glow” and “the mom who does it all.” There’s the annoying pressure to “bounce back” right after giving birth or be the pinterest-perfect mom. There are also people who only show/talk about the things in their life that are going well. So yeah, all of this creates an unrealistic expectation which you don’t have to keep comparing yourself to.

 

23. I feel like “just a mom” now 

We all need to feel seen and witnessed, for all parts of ourselves, not just our role as a mom. You’re a multi-faceted human being with distinct traits, strengths and interests. We need to be witnessed so that those who are close to us can celebrate who we are and what we’ve become. You might not say it to your friends but when you feel like “just a mom,” it’s as if certain parts of youyour spontaneity, your intelligence, your creativity, your sexuality—aren’t important anymore. Which just isn’t true.  

 

24. I cut corners when I feel like I’m just over it

We all do this. What’s with the pressure to do everything perfect all the time? Sometimes all you have time or bandwidth for is boxed mac and cheese, letting your kids watch tv all morning, or not enforcing bedtime because you don’t feel like dealing with the complaints. So what? Can you let some of the perfectionism go? 

 

25. I hate being pregnant 

Not everyone enjoys pregnancy. If your friends and family did, good for them. But really there can be so much physical discomfort, pain, uncertainty, and anxiety that can come up during this time. If you’re not loving it, there’s no reason to feel ashamed or guilty. Just because you’re grateful to be pregnant doesn’t mean you have to enjoy physically carrying a child. Those are separate things. 

 

Motherhood can just bring on such a mixed bag of emotions. Some conflict with one another but pop up anyway. Certain ones can be easy to move past whereas others can just feel horrible enough to sit with let alone admit out loud. Even though you might feel ashamed of your confessions that you’d fess up to if you could, there’s nothing wrong with identifying with any of these. No phase is perfect and it’s okay to admit to what you don’t love about this one. 

And if you’d like to continue to dive into some self-help strategies as you continue to work through the ups and downs of motherhood, check out my self-compassion affirmation cards. They’re totally free and they will help. Feeling ashamed to say what’s truly on your mind often stems from self-judgment or self-criticism. These cards help you re-route your thinking so that you can feel the opposite. Picture being able to meet yourself where you’re at with compassion.  

 

No bullsh*it advice for motherhood I wish I heard sooner

No bullsh*it advice for motherhood I wish I heard sooner

 

It’s an imperfect journey. It’s ok if you’re just surviving… or if you threw the baby books in the fire.

 

If you’re a mother, by now you’ve heard piles upon piles of bullsh*t advice for motherhood.

I’m talking about those unsolicited tips that usually make next to no sense and only serve to confuse or anger you. And more often than not, they just contribute to anxiety and worsen your mental health during a time that’s already hard enough

 

 

You know the advice I’m talking about. Usually it comes from some well-intentioned (but annoying) source. You never asked but they feel the need to chime in with their two cents anyways. What comes to mind right now? 

 

 

Here some bullshi*t advice for motherhood I hear all the time:

 

“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”

“Enjoy these moments while they last!” (Eye roll!)

“Motherhood is natural, you’ll just know what to do.” 

“Breast is best!” 

“You’re not sleep training!?” 

“Be grateful!” (Thanks for making me feel worse, right?) 

“Don’t feed your baby x,y,z.” 

“You should put your kid in daycare.”

“You should stay home with your kids until they’re older.” 

“You really shouldn’t be on those medications if you’re breastfeeding!” 

“I lost my baby weight by… You should try x.” (A hard no to weight loss advice and bounce back culture am I right!?)

“I don’t agree with your birth plan. X would be a better idea.” (As if anyone should tell you how to give birth…)

“Oh you want a baby? The best way/time to get pregnant is…” 

“Don’t take your kids to adult restaurants. Just leave them at home or go somewhere family friendly.” 

“You can’t travel with a baby or young kids.” (You totally can!) 

 

How many of these have you heard? Maybe you even heard several of these this week. 

When you’re a new mother, becoming a mother, or trying to conceive, you seem to get unsolicited bullsh*t advice for motherhood from everyyyyyyone! Your mom, your mother in law, your friends, your friends’ friends, you well-intentioned aunt… 

It’s exhausting. And it doesn’t help. 

Advice like this is often out of date, conflicting, doesn’t align with your values, or it’s just straight up confusing. It makes you doubt yourself, question your decisions, or it can bring on decision fatigue. And we wonder why anxiety and low self-worth in motherhood is common!? 

You know what does help? Actual, solid no bullsh*t advice. I asked my Instagram community for some input here, and received literally hundreds of entries about what advice would have truly been helpful. Here’s what moms wish they could have heard much sooner:

 

 

No bullsh*it advice for motherhood that *actually* makes sense:

 

1. Unfollow social media accounts that aren’t serving you

You get to curate your experience online. So many accounts can make you feel like sh*it about your style of parenting, your body, your lifestyle, or your relationship. If it does, hit that unfollow button! 

 

2. Google less

Stop consulting Google for every little thing. Just trust in yourself and your ability to learn hands on. Excessive googling just feeds into anxiety and enables you to ruminate or get stuck in a OCD loop. Sure, research a little as needed, but try not to get caught into the endless loop. 

 

3. Get comfortable asking for help 

For some reason, our culture idolizes the “Mom who does it all.” Think about why that is and who benefits from that. Who benefits from mothers hustling at all costs without a peep? (Your boss? Your company? Your partner?)  When that becomes the standard, that puts the bulk of responsibility on women rather than addressing elements of a system that is inherently flawed. You need help. Just ask. 

 

4. Just do what’s right for your family

Motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all. We’re all different and we’re all raising different human beings. Our differences are part of what makes us awesome! Consider that next time you compare yourself to whatever the next family is doing. What works for them might not work for you. Maybe the summer programs don’t matter so much to you because you spend your days hiking or hanging out at the beach together. Maybe you keep your kids’ bedtimes strict because you *know* how grumpy they’ll get otherwise. 

 

5. Take the medication if/when you need it

There’s a whole list of approved medications for pregnancy and for breastfeeding. Did you know that? Did you also know that if you need medication for mental health purposes, that’s ok? Sometimes the risk of not taking medication (untreated mental health issues) is greater than any risk of taking the meds. 

 

6. You don’t have to sleep train 

Unlike what social media and marketing will lead you to believe, it’s not the norm to sleep train, and you certainly don’t have to. Check in with your values (and get clear on what those are). If it doesn’t feel right, let it go. There are many ways to manage sleep, including your own anxiety about baby’s sleep, that don’t put pressure on your child. 

 

7. Go to therapy even before you really need it

Sometimes we don’t even know when we need support and it can always be a good idea to be proactive and get that professional, unbiased opinion before things get to an unmanageable level. Your future self may thank you. 

 

8. The internet doesn’t know your baby better than you do 

Instagram, parenting websites, blogs and Pinterest aren’t in your home and they’ve never met you or your child. You get to call the shots! You are the expert in your own family. 

 

9. Becoming a mom is a freaking hard transition. It’s ok if you’re just surviving 

Seriously read this one again if you must! When you become a mom, literally everything changes: your lifestyle, your routine, your identity, your body, your relationship, your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm, your nutrition (if breastfeeding), your house… everything. Why would would that be easy? Society makes a bigger deal out of physically moving house or changing careers. THIS right here, you becoming a parent, is a HUGE deal. 

 

10. If it feels wrong, trust your gut 

If it feels wrong to you, that’s a sign that it doesn’t align with your values. You always have the authority to do what’s best for your family and your needs. 

 

11. Don’t bother reading all the baby sleep books

A lot of them would be better off in the recycling. Or burnt in a campfire. 

 

12. Find lactation support ASAP

Gosh! How many of us read the books, prep the nursery, take the birth classes and do ALL THE THINGS only to actually have the baby and find out that breastfeeding is really hard? I recommend checking in with a lactation consultant early on because you’ll probably need her. 

 

13. It’s ok to cuddle, rock or nurse your baby to sleep

The “experts” or baby books may tell you otherwise but you do you. If your baby is communicating with you and needs your attention and care, do it! This piece of advice that tells you otherwise can seem so counterintuitive. 

 

14. Nobody knows what they’re doing even if they look like the do

Every mom has her moments of winging it, flying by the seat of her pants, or trial-and-error. (Sometimes that looks like mostly error.) The good news is that you’re trying your best. The better news is that a lot of this will make for some funny stories when they grow up. 

 

15. Don’t take anyone’s sh*it! You know what’s best

You don’t have to spend time in the mom group that makes you feel like shit. You can distance yourself from people who are unkind. And if someone puts you down, offers unsolicited advice, or disrespects the way you parent, you can respectfully set a boundary there.

 

16. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and that’s fine

Some people breastfeed, some don’t. It’s all ok! Maybe you’re unable to breastfeed and choose to feed your infant formula. Maybe you can breastfeed but don’t want to. Maybe you only breastfeed. Maybe a combination of the two works best. You get to make that decision and there’s no right or wrong. 

 

17. Stop stressing about night wakings. It’ll end eventually 

Nothing is permanent. Not even these hell nights. This too will end. Remember that. 

 

18. Start being more “selfish” 

You’re working so hard and you’ve made enough sacrifices already. By now, you’ve gone through birth, carried a child through your pregnancy, adjusted, learned, been physically depended on, and made plenty of tough decisions. Seriously, go out with your girlfriends, book the family vacation you want, order the takeout you’ve been craving, or skip that family event you know is going to leave you feeling drained. You’re worthy of your own consideration. 

 

19. Stop disappointing yourself in order to please others 

Ughhh the self-sacrificing mom narrative needs to just die already. If you’re always coming last, often disappointed or not really doing what you want to do, then something has to change. 

 

20. Your life isn’t supposed to look like hers 

So simple and so true. We all compare—that’s human nature. Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to her (whoever she is), remind yourself that your life isn’t supposed to look like hers. Your life is supposed to look like yours.  

 

21. When your baby gets older, nobody is going to care what, how, or when they ate

Breast milk, formula, both, baby food, homemade food you blend yourself… This is honestly such a minor detail in the context of their overall life and therefore not worth the major stress you may be feeling. 

 

22. Refuse to enter “best baby” contests 

You know how people talk about who’s a “good baby”, “great eater” “terrible toddler”?  What’s even the point of these comments? These are so harmful and quite honestly, unnecessary. See if you can just opt out and avoid labeling yourself or your baby as good or bad. You’re all learning.

 

23. Your baby will sleep eventually. Try to remember that 

In the moment it can totally feel like holding a crying baby is just your life now. Don’t worry… she has to fall asleep eventually. And I know that doesn’t help get rid of the pain in that exact moment but sometimes reminding yourself of this can bring some perspective that helps you feel less hopeless. There are no 12 year olds that are still waking up needing to be bounced back to sleep. It will end.

 

24. Motherhood is an imperfect journey. Mistakes happen

You’re going to miss a cue every once in a while, you’re going to buy the wrong size diapers, you’re going to drop the ball on the school project. You’re going to lose your temper here and there. You’re going to completely drop the ball from time to time. Because you’re a human being, and that’s what we do. Is there anybody in your life who you love because they’re perfect? Probably not. Cut yourself the same slack.  

 

25. Your relationship might take a hit for a while. It’s normal even if others haven’t let on 

There’s a lot about motherhood that just puts a huge strain on your relationship. (See point #9) Feeling disconnected from your partneror like you hate their guts altogether—is such a painful experience. And it’s one that most of us keep quiet about because maybe we don’t want to admit it. But just remember: other people’s seemingly perfect relationships might not feel that way at all. You have no way of knowing what’s actually going on there and likely they also are worrying about the same things you are. 

 

26. People forget very quickly what it’s like to have a new baby

Your good friend may have had a baby just a few short years ago but now it seems like she doesn’t remember this sleepless, chaotic time where you’re in pain from breastfeeding and you have no idea what day it is. For some reason people just… forget. Can you let them off the hook, and focus on giving yourself the validation and compassion you need instead? 

 

27. You don’t have to cherish every single moment 

You’re going to hate some moments and that’s ok. It’s also ok to admit that you’re not enjoying a particular day or even an entire chapter of motherhood. You don’t have to be super into the baby years. You don’t have to pretend that sleepless nights and constant diaper changes are awesome. You don’t have to feel guilty about admitting that your two-year-old absolutely annoys the heck out of you when she throws her sixth temper tantrum of the day. Some moments just suck. Don’t take on guilt on top of that. 

 

Alright, that brings us to the end of my no-BS list of advice.

 

I am so grateful to have heard from so many moms in my Instagram community who shared their ideas of advice that truly was helpful. If you want to join the conversation and see some more ideas, scroll this Instagram post – you’ll leave with such a fresh perspective and feeling very much not alone. 

 

5 reasons why your relationship feels rocky after having kids

5 reasons why your relationship feels rocky after having kids

 

If you feel like you hate your partner these days, these five reasons might explain why…

 

Ok I’m going to be the person who just says it honestly. 

Relationships can really tank after having a baby. This is one of those things that’s common but feels awful. It can also seem out of nowhere. One day you’re in love with the person you chose as a life partner and a mere few months and one baby later, everything they do irritates you! And most likely, nobody told you, right? 

We prepare for motherhood with birth classes, baby showers, prepping the baby rooms, and buying all the essentials… but somehow many of the most practical things get lost in the excitement. Like navigating your relationship after your newborn baby arrives. 

 

 

There’s an entire scale of what relationship problems after a new baby feel like. This describes anything from feeling like you hate your partner, wanting to snap at them, feeling disconnected, not wanting any level of sex or intimacy with them, or just carrying around a grudge for reasons you can’t quite name. 

Even though this is common, it can feel horrible. No, you’re not doomed. You’re not headed for a breakup or divorce. This is just a strange and really tough period of adjustment. 

But why do these relationship problems surface after having a new baby? Here are five of the most common reasons. 

 

#1 Your whole world has changed

From your sleep routine (or lack thereof), to your daily priorities, to your body, to the things you spend your time on, literally everything has changed. Overnight. 

Before you may have spent your days building your career, working on personal projects, having coffee with friends or hiking outdoors. Now, you’re waking several times in the night, feeding constantly, soothing baby cries, and you don’t even feel at home in your own body. It’s a lot. 

When you look at your partner’s life, it hasn’t even undergone a fraction of those changes. No matter how much they support where they can, it’s still a much bigger adjustment for you. That pisses you off! 

 

#2 It feels like everything is on you

While there are certain things that will naturally fall more to you (like breastfeeding, editing your diet in order to ensure a healthy milk supply, physically adjusting after birth), it shouldn’t all be on you. 

Societal expectations placed on women in general and mothers in particular can be hard to break from. You and your partner may not subscribe to traditional gender norms but even still, they’re so ingrained that you might not even realize the ways you’re automatically taking on more. 

I encourage you to sit down and ask yourselves: who is taking on what responsibilities, and does this feel fair? If things feel unfair, resentment will build over time. That’s pretty much like the relationship version of allowing a roof leak to go unaddressed: it builds over time and the problem gets worse and worse. 

〰️ I’ve created a self-paced online course that directly addresses the common (but really detrimental) issue of having an unequal division of responsibilities, called Sharing the Load Of Parenting. This would be a great resource to watch with your partner so you can get on the same page and nip that resentment in the bud asap. 

 

Tap the image to learn more about my course Sharing the Load of Parenting

 

#3 You’re touched out

Ok, your body has just gone through the process of getting pregnant (maybe that was easy, or maybe that involved fertility treatments, lifestyle changes, miscarriage, etc.), birth, the recovery from both of those things, and now pumping/feeding (if you’ve chosen to do so). 

You also have a baby and possibly other children constantly in need of physical affection and care. You are… touched out! In other words, you may be feeling exhausted by the physical aspect of motherhood and the amount that your body is needed during this stage. 

When it comes to sex, touch, or any type of physical intimacy with your partner, you may just not have the capacity. That’s both understandable and common but some couples may find it creates a distance that didn’t used to exist. 

Just know that this is very common, and doesn’t mean anything bad about your relationship. It’s okay to let your partner know how you’re feeling too, and request a little bit more physical space when you need it. Some moms find that having some time, say after the kids go to bed, where they have a break from being touched can help them feel more open to physical intimacy later on. 

One of my favourite resources for any kind of intimacy challenge is Vanessa and Xander Marin, their Instagram is great and you’ll find tons of tangible strategies to help with this. 

We also know that for many moms, their desire for physical intimacy can tank when they don’t feel supported, or when they feel like the load of parenthood is unfairly divided. So, figuring out ways to share the load is also going to help in this area too. 

 

#4 You feel unappreciated and unseen

From my years as a therapist, as well as witnessing not only myself but women and couples around me and in my community, I can confidently say that most moms feel unappreciated, unseen, and even taken for granted at some point. 

If you spend time online and in mom communities, you’ll likely have heard about “the invisible load of motherhood.” This refers to the mental and emotional labour that mothers are more likely to take on. That’s the planning, thinking, worrying, logistics managing, and caring that you do for your family. Because all this deciphering, anticipating and problem solving exists in your own private thoughts, it’s not outwardly visible and therefore largely goes unseen.  

Just pause to think about your week so far, and all the things you’ve managed. How much is happening internally, where an outsider might not even notice? For moms who are at home with kids, they sometimes get to the end of the day knowing they’ve worked hard all day but yet wracking their brains to pinpoint what they actually accomplished. What’s worse is the (unfair) question: “What did you do all day?” But here’s the thing: childcare is a lot. The meal planning, anticipating needs before they happen, managing big emotions (toddler meltdown, anyone?), managing what feels like a thousand logistics each day, and just generally always being one step ahead… it’s a lot. 

Parents can also go through phases of just getting by. They stop expressing appreciation and gratitude towards one another or take one another’s contributions for granted. When we feel like our efforts are unseen and unappreciated, it can leave us feeling very alone in our experience. And understandably resentful towards our partner. 

 

#5 You’re completely drained and exhausted

This is a pretty obvious reason why you might be dealing with relationship problems after having a baby but one worth noting. You’re straight up exhausted! 

If you’re running on fumes, tired beyond belief and both mentally and physically drained, tensions can run high. Your nervous system is also totally out of whack! A tired brain can really compromise our days because you don’t have the same cognitive ability to problem solve and communicate. 

When tired, smaller things can also feel big. Instances that may not upset you under normal circumstances can suddenly cause a major fight. Instead of thinking that you’re doomed or that you’re headed for divorce, try to reason with yourself here. Imagine the stress you could let go of if you were able to reframe this kind of tension and understand that the months after a baby are just plain hard! For you and your partner. It won’t always feel this way.

_____________

Not all stages in life are created equally. Although it might be unsettling to confront certain changes that can feel uncomfortable or hard to adjust to, your experience in motherhood will be easier emotionally if you allow some flexibility. 

Can you allow for some chapters to just bring new challenges without catastrophizing or feeling like you have to erase the issues asap? (I.e. “I want a divorce!”) Most couples (67% in fact) say their relationship satisfaction tanks for 3 years post kids, so can you hang in there and work on what you can control in the meantime? Can you accept that certain areas of life won’t look as they did in the past while remaining curious about what’s waiting for you just around the corner, or what small changes you could make today that would help you feel a bit more connected?

 

Want to learn more from me about this topic?

This is of course a tricky one to manage and it can feel easier said than done. Most relationships go through some kind of turbulence when a new baby arrives and there can be a lot of guilt, shame, fear, and discouragement when that happens. 

For that reason, I created my course, How To Share The Load Of Parenting. So many couples struggle and yet NO ONE talks about it! If you’ve related to the themes touched on in this blog post, this course is like your guide to iron out the little bumps and snags that are occurring in your relationship before they fester into a major issue. In this self-paced course you will learn to identify issues and communicate them more effectively as well as parent in a way that’s fair and aligned to your values and lifestyle.