The feeling of failure as a struggling new mum
The feeling of failure as a struggling new mum

The feeling of failure as a struggling new mum

Being a midwife certainly gives you the heads up on the physiological demands of pregnancy. However, when I was pregnant, people said to me ‘oh you’ll be great with a baby, you’re a midwife, you’ll know what to do’. I would wonder why. After all I’d only see newborns for a couple of days, occasionally for a few days more. Even then it was only whilst on shift.

So how on earth should I know what to do with my own baby 24/7. I mean, ok yes I’m comfortable with how you hold a baby and bath a baby. I’ve got a good idea what a baby should and shouldn’t do when it comes to feeding, pooing and peeing. I know what parameters their heart rate, temp and breathing rate should be within.

However having your very own baby at home to care for is another ball game completely. A baby needs so much more than what textbooks can tell you. In fact they need so much more than what anybody can tell you. How can you possibly sum up the demands a baby makes on you emotionally and physically. I actually think it is really hard to put it into words. They need things that you can only know about through experience.

I’ve discussed the great expectations on new parents in a previous blog post. But for this post I wanted to discuss the terrible feeling of failure I felt in those early days. This is a feeling that clouded my mind for months after the birth of my first baby.

In the first instance I failed to give birth. I ended up with a cesarean section after hours and hours of a very slow labour. ‘Why couldn’t I give birth?’ I asked myself over and over again. I did everything I possibly could to encourage a straightforward labour and birth.

In the second instance I failed to breastfeed. I tied myself in knots when I made the decision to formula feed after 8 weeks of agony and tears. I saw breastfeeding as the pinnacle of being an accomplished mum. I watched friends breastfeed and cried inside as I wished I could have done that for my daughter. 

I’m a woman and a midwife. The two most natural things in the world I failed to do. In those early postnatal days, still adjusting to the sleep deprivation and hormones gone wild I wondered how I could be a good mother when I couldn’t even get the basics right. The words ‘I’m not good enough’ preyed on my mind.

Months later, thankfully the dark cloud lifted. I began to see sense. I did give birth. It may have been abdominally, but still I gave birth. My body grew a baby. How can that be failure? I fed my baby. I helped her grow. I met her basic needs. Above all else I loved her. This certainly was not failure.

Why did I put myself through this? It was such an awful feeling. Was it all my own doing? Was it my job? Was it media? I’m not sure. All I know now is that those parts of being a parent are a small chapter in raising a child. Now they pale into insignificance. There really is so much more to being a good parent.

As seen on The Huffington Post


My cheeky elf
My cheeky elf

My Pops 4 1/2 years on. Failure? I think not ♥

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Cuddle Fairy
Mummy Times Two
A Mum Track Mind
The Pramshed


  1. Comment from @CuddleFairy
    It is a tough time of year for the “I wants” & ” I needs” isn’t it? As my oldest gets older, he’s 9 now, it seems more important to have what others have. We try to focus on love & what we think is right but it can be tough at that age. Lovely post & quote. Thank you for sharing with us at Candid Cuddles, I hope you will be back again in 2017 🙂 Have a fabulous Christmas & all the best for a happy, healthy new year!! xx

  2. Comment from @BurnishedChaos
    So true. Most presents get left unplayed with and the main memories of our Christmases are always sitting round the table playing games after dinner. Mind you, I swore I wasn’t going to buy as much this year and started the wrapping this afternoon and realised I have gone way overboard as usual! Have a great Christmas x

  3. So good to read that someone went through the same thoughts and feelings as me. And a professional in that field as well. If pregnancy, labour (also an emergency c section) and motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that it’s bloody harder than it looks and it’s something that mostly you can’t control.

    Fab read. Glad you are ok 4.5 years on ?

  4. As a parent it’s easy to feel like you doing a bad job or that you could do more. I imagine the pressure was worse for you because of your job. You’d seen so many woman do the things you were unable to and it made you feel as though you had failed. As you realise now yourself this definitely was the case! You just went about your parental duties in a different fashion!

  5. Sorry you had a hard time in the early days, really glad to hear you’ve since realised nothing you did was a failure! Motherhood is hard and sometimes we are the hardest judges of our performance. You sound like a great mum #KACOLS

    • Thank you Geraldine, I completely see that now. It’s just hard when you’re in those hazy days of trying to make sense of your new life! I went on to choose an elc/s with second x

  6. I felt the same way with my two boys, both for different reasons after birth. With my first I had a horrible labour, and I remember crying and crying because I couldn’t move quickly enough to stop him crying. Let’s just say witch hazel was my best friend for a good 5 weeks! With my second I cried because I only breastfed for 3 days (and cried whilst feeding!) because I was in agony. Now I cry at least once a week through guilt of not giving both equal amounts of attention!

    The guilt is never ending but I know I’m (all us parents) are doing our best!

  7. I understand how you have felt. I had a forceps delivery and also formula fed my baby. I hated myself for needing forceps and really felt I had failed too after trying so hard to push for two hours.. But my boy is gorgeous and healthy and is 16 months old now…
    It’s just such an emotional time x

  8. No one prepares you for the never ending feeling of guilt and failure! For the first few months all I felt was failure every time my baby cried and then stopped for someone else, every time I let someone else look after her for a few hours so I could sleep…failure! It’s overwhelming but I have now come to realise it goes hand in hand with being a great mum, if you didn’t care and didn’t love then there would be no feeling of failure or guilt. So I now believe that if you think your failing then you must be an amazing mum 😊 Xx

  9. part of why I started blogging was because in the depths of PND, I hated the mary poppins style mums who made life look easy. it was utter crap and any mum I spoke to honestly would admit that the instagram photos were all staged to make it seem like that mum was in control.
    I wanted to let people know its ok to feel like a failure, its ok to not boob feed if you and baby dont get on. Happy mum means happy baby and if mummy is crying over every pressure to be this wonderous mum then of course it will have an effect on the baby!
    I’m so glad you’ve seen that you were not a failure and you are an amazing mother. Do not let anyone tell you different lovely! #PoatsFromTheHeart

    • Thank you, that is pretty much why I started blogging too. So easy to feel a failure when you wrongly assume everyone else is coping perfectly doing the mary poppins thing. No mummy or daddy should feel like this x

  10. I had a totally natural water birth & breastfeed and I still feel like an utter failure everyday.We just have an inbuilt thing that whatever we do it’s not enough. Talk about giving ourselves a break #postsfromtheheart

  11. I think from the comments that as a woman and a mother this feeling is about as natural as giving birth! we all feel it at some point, be it just after birth, or a few months after, the emotions come and knock you down like a steamroller! It really is the hardest thing in the world to adjust to, but we do it. After all us mothers are bloody superheroes!!


  12. Failing at giving birth is when you die in the process. Everything else is a success. We’ve become very screwed up in judgment these days. And don’t start me on the breast v bottle feeding battle. Women are bananas. Why we became so judgmental and unhelpful is beyond me. #FotheloveofBLOG


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