Perfectionism – a warning sign for Postpartum Depression

Having the expectation of becoming the” ideal mother” to your “perfect baby” can spell trouble and put any mother at risk for postpartum depression.

I know the fantasy we moms have in our mind, that picture perfect motherhood we wish to have, yet the reality is very different, still wonderful, but in different ways. Motherhood is messy and sometimes you may even wonder “can I really do it? “ Between the pressures, frustrations and the unpredictability of the daily life you can feel overwhelmed and feeling like you are spinning out of control. Life is not the same after having a baby. We all have to make adjustments to the new realities of motherhood and our expectations and embrace the changes that come along with it.
Women who have the tendency for perfectionism are much vulnerable to develop postpartum depression.

Why? because their expectations from themselves are so high and uncompromising in the face of the reality. They constantly fall short of their own standards which can be extremely stressful. It usually triggers feelings of out of control, panic, anger, guilt and shame that over time can bring despair, depression and eventually a mental breakdown. Perfectionists often live under chronic stress that wears not only their mind but the bodies as well. They are prone to get sick and can develop chronic physical conditions.

We all have to realize that there is a big difference between striving for perfection and being a perfectionist. Striving to perfection means that you try to do everything that you can to succeed and accept your best whatever it is. Perfectionists will do everything possible to not fail and judge themselves terribly when failing. Are you that mom who is trying so hard to finish your never ending to-do list at all cost? Do you focus on shortcomings in yourself or others, being critical to no end? Immobilized by fear of failure, believing that you are inadequate?
Perfect motherhood is a fiction that doesn’t exist in real people navigating through the ever-changing complexities of real life. It is a joy killer. How can you let yourself enjoy the important things when constantly looking for your imperfections?

If you struggle with perfectionism you have to defeat it or else it will defeat you.
Choose Connection over perfection. Put your priority on connecting with your baby, yourself and others, allowing yourself to experience love, joy and peace of mind.
Stop comparing, it’s impairing. If this was simply an observation, that would be one thing, but in comparing yourself to others, you judge yourself and end up feeling inadequate again…
Heal wounds of shame. I am talking about this constant inner critical voice that says you are wrong, inferior and worthless. This voice that doesn’t allow you to feel good enough and whole and makes you feel ashamed at yourself.

If you realize this is the wrong path for you to walk in, struggling with the dark side of perfectionism and shame, step into the light. Reach out for help and get the right psychotherapy on the path of healing your shame, growing and finding the best of who you really are.

Dalia Kenig, M.A.