As a new mom, it's easy to be hard on yourself and focus on negative self-talk that can bring you down. Here are four ways you can build your self-esteem and why it is the most important thing you can do as a parent.

By Jackie Terribile
June 10, 2021
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An illustration of a mom with her kids.
Credit: Illustration: Emma Darvick.

We tend to enter motherhood with expectations about how it will be-and they are usually very high. While there are many things to feel gratitude for, it's the disappointments, no matter how big or small, that can throw a new mother into turmoil. When we put pressure on ourselves to be the perfect mom, it's inevitable that we are going to fall short. We can't help but beat ourselves up about it.

As a confidence coach, preeclampsia survivor, and mom of two boys, I know firsthand that it is impossible to be the best mom you can be when your self-esteem is low. If you are feeling bad about your body after pregnancy or that you can't find time to take a shower, you aren't alone.

Here are some simple ways to build up your self-esteem so you feel better about yourself, feel less stressed, and become a happier person for yourself and your family.

Talk To Yourself The Way You Would A Friend

"Your'e too fat to fit into any of your clothes."

"You should be able to workout while the baby sleeps but you are too lazy."

"How can you be so organized at work but can't get anything accomplished at home?"

Imagine if I talked to my friends like that? Of course I never would, but these are things I said to myself when I was a new mom.

In his new book Soundtracks, author Jon Acuff says that these types of thoughts are just negative soundtracks we play in our heads. He suggests that a great way to identify these thoughts is to ask, "Is this kind?" In his book, Acuff says, "If you wouldn't say it to a friend, there's a chance you shouldn't say it to yourself either."

I use this approach with my coaching clients. I ask them to pay attention to how they are speaking to themselves, and if they hear negative talk, change it to be more positive and kind.

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Comparison is the thief of joy. No truer words can be said to a new mom. It's not easy to do in this time of social media madness. Does your baby even giggle if you don't post it on Instagram?

For the new mom who is sleep deprived and scrolling at 3 a.m. as she nurses her baby, it is almost impossible not to feel inferior as we check out our friends' perfectly filtered feeds. You'll never feel good about yourself if you are comparing your darkest moments to their highlight reels.

Shut off that screen and stay in the moment. Look at your baby and you'll see that you are missing your own highlights by being distracted by what others are doing. When we are focused on the blessings we have right now, we start to feel more satisfaction with ourselves.

Accept Where Your Body Is Right Now

As a confidence coach, this is my number one piece of advice, but it's especially difficult to do as a new mom. Pre-pregnancy you might not have loved your body but you may now be wishing to get back to that size and shape. You may not even want to buy anything new until you lose those pregnancy pounds, but don't you deserve happiness right now?

In her book Affirmations For Happiness, thought leader Kelsey Aida Roualdes says, "Appreciating my body more often encourages my happiness." By accepting your body as it is right now, and choosing clothes that fit well and make you feel good, you will be more confident. When we are confident, we make better choices for ourselves and our families.

Try Something New

I've heard some people say it's a mistake to make drastic changes when we are feeling emotional. While you may not want to get a permanent tattoo or cut your normally long locks into a pixie cut, trying something new with your look is a great way to build confidence. There's also nothing wrong with paying a little attention to yourself when so much focus is on the new baby.

That's something that really worked for me. When my youngest son was born, I was running around after my 3-year-old and barely found time to get dressed myself. I also felt disconnected from my new little one who had the most beautiful red hair. I went to the salon and asked my trusted stylist to give me the same red color as my son. I felt like a new woman and enjoyed compliments like, "You and your son have the most beautiful hair color." After a few months I was ready to get back to my old color, but making that change for a short time helped me to feel invigorated and connected to my son.

Maybe there is something you've wanted to try with your looks but never felt it was the right time? Now is your chance to go for it!

The Bottom Line

Being a new mom comes with a lot of emotions and it can take effort to stay confident when there are so many things to learn. By making yourself a priority and learning to uplift and accept yourself, you can build your self-esteem and show up as the best version of yourself.

Jackie Terribile is style and confidence coach who helps new moms and busy women reduce stress, save money and time, and build confidence so they can achieve success. Sign up for free style tips on her website The Small Town Stylist.