5 reasons why 'high-achieving women' may struggle with motherhood, according to a postpartum therapist - but we think all mums can relate

 A woman pictured from behind looking out a window while cuddling a toddler.
A woman pictured from behind looking out a window while cuddling a toddler.

Motherhood is a huge adjustment for any woman, but a postpartum therapist has explained five factors that make it difficult for 'high-achievers'.

The first few years of motherhood are difficult for a number of reasons - keeping a tiny human alive is a huge task, and the sleepless nights can make it feel even more demanding. There's also matresence and the mental load to deal with, and many mothers feel disconnected from their partner after having a baby, which can put a strain on your relationship too.

If these challenges sound familiar to you, then know that you're not alone. Many mothers struggle with adapting to the changes that family life brings, as postpartum therapist Sophie Harris knows very well. She's dedicated to helping new mums feel calmer and happier both through therapy sessions and with the information she shares online.

Recently, Sophie has revealed why 'high-achieving women' (which in this context refers to women who have done particularly well in their careers) may be more likely to struggle in early motherhood, based on traits she sees in her clients.

5 reasons why 'high-achieving women' may struggle in early motherhood

  1. You're used to being in control: Having a baby might be one of the first times in your life that you have felt totally out of control! This can cause you to feel anxious.

  2. You're used to getting recognition and validation from your career: Sometimes the same-ness and never-ending list of invisible tasks postpartum can make you feel unworthy and unappreciated.

  3. You may live further away from family and support: Sophie explains that she works with a lot of women who have moved to bigger cities or other countries, and after having a baby they may crave to be looked after by their own family.

  4. You are more prone to perfectionism: High achievers can often share a perfectionist trait. But it's hard to be a perfectionist and a mum, because parenthood is generally quite messy and chaotic!

  5. You are more likely to feel like you've 'lost your identity': 'High-achieving women' may be more likely to feel the effect of the empty space that used to be filled with hobbies, career, friends etc that having a baby creates.

And Sophie's experiences with new mothers rang true for a lot of her followers. One commented on the post, "Every single one of these describes my experience of early motherhood! My New Years resolution was to lower my expectations, and it felt so liberating to allow myself to do that."

Others expressed how helpful the insight would have been had they heard it before having a baby, with one writing, "I wish I’d known or been told this before I went into it, as I just felt like there was something wrong with me specifically!" Another said, "I wish someone had articulated this when I had PND [postnatal depression], I kept thinking it was all my fault and questioning why I was struggling when others seemed to breeze this stage".

And some mums expressed their conflicting feelings about still caring about their career after having a baby. One explained, "I also feel judged (possibly internal) for still caring about my career post kids. They are the priority but I still enjoy my career life too". Meanwhile one mum added, "I love my baby, but sometimes it feels like I would never have the time for my hobbies again... And, when I have a little me time, I feel guilty for wanting to do things that don't involve him".

If you can relate to these feelings, we hope it's helpful to know that you're not alone, and it's totally normal to find motherhood difficult to navigate. Reach out to your partner, if you have one, or family for support, or you can get in touch with the Association for Postnatal Illness (APNI), which provides support for women experiencing postnatal depression.

The early years of motherhood can feel the hardest, remember you're not alone if you hate playing with your kid, struggle with toy rotation or if you don't want mum friends.... you do you. And know that no matter your choices or style, we promise you're not alone in it.