Managing the Challenges of Motherhood

Moms are under constant pressure to do it all — and it takes a toll on their well-being. We explore the myth of the perfect mom.

Listen 49:35

If you look around for Mother’s Day gifts, you’ll probably see stuff like bubble baths, spa days, yoga classes — a whole slew of things aimed at promoting “self-care” for tireless (but actually exhausted) moms.

But for a lot of overwhelmed mothers, self-care becomes just another box to tick — another item on an endless to-do list that never gets finished. The demands of modern motherhood can be overwhelming: Moms are expected to do it all and do it perfectly — even if that means compromising their own well-being.
On this episode, we talk about the challenges of motherhood, and how moms can find the space and time to take care of themselves. We talk with a perinatal psychiatrist about the contradictory demands of motherhood, and why bubble baths aren’t the answer; hear about an initiative to help mothers dealing with postpartum depression; and learn about the unexpected ways that motherhood changes the brain.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with perinatal psychiatrist Pooja Lakshmin about the growing toll she’s seen motherhood take on new moms, the pressure of changing social expectations, and how boundaries — not bubble baths — can create a path to true well-being. Her new book is called “Real Self-Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths Not Included).”
  • When health-and-science journalist Chelsea Conaboy first became a mother, she was surprised to find that the maternal instinct she’d heard about for years wasn’t kicking in. That led Conaboy to investigate some of our long-held beliefs about motherhood — and how they influence our ways of thinking and behaving. Her new book is called “Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood.”
  • When Katie Pratt was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, a rare condition in which the cerebellum bulges through an opening in the skull into the spinal canal. Katie’s mom, Wendy, had a hunch about what the solution would be — but it wasn’t until doctors opened up Katie’s skull that they discovered she was right. Katie interviews her mom about the experience, and her incredible flash of mother’s intuition.

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