"Mum guilt is not something your wife inflicts on herself, by herself. It has come about due to unfair and nuanced societal pressure on mothers to be 'perfect', to never fail, never let down their kids, their family. It is due to a long history of pressure on mothers to be selfless, even at the expense of her own happiness. "
It's that all-consuming, gut-wrenching feeling almost all mothers experience at least once in their lives (probably more) in relation to various aspects of raising their little ones.
You might be a FTWM, PTWM, SAHM, WAHM or even pregnant - whatever the acronyms are, you probably wouldn't have escaped this sense of guilt unique to mothering. We promise to bring you ways of tackling this feeling soon.
But this article is for you, dear husbands/fathers. What the mother of your child experiences in terms of mum guilt is so much more than regular guilt. When she feels mum guilt, it's like her heart is on fire. It's a harrowing experience that can even trigger depression and feeling like a terrible mother in some.
We're here to give you some valuable pointers about some situations that often trigger mum guilt, and what you can do to protect your wife from this not-so-pleasant experience.
It starts early
The moment your lady finds out there's a second heart beating inside her, she is overwhelmed by feelings of love, wonderment, anxiety... and guilt. Now you might be wondering where the guilt factors in at this stage in your partner's life.
But it's there. It's when she gives in to temptation and eats that bar of chocolate or has a glass of wine. The moment she does this, the guilt attacks - "what if I get prenatal diabetes because of the chocolate?", "Omg, I shouldn't have had that glass of wine, what if I've put my baby at risk?" and so on.
What you can do
Understand that pregnancy is such a huge responsibility for your partner and as amazing as these nine months are, your wife has to carefully calculate each tiny decision she makes... right down to eating that square of chocolate.
This is because she feels completely responsible for the welfare of your developing baby. While you might wonder why she stresses so much about that chocolate (for example), she does this because of her unfathomable love for your baby and this is linked to anxiety about even the smallest thing that could potentially harm him.
So, read up and research on what's safe and what's not for women during pregnancy. When you notice her hesitating to do something she likes because of the pregnancy, but is totally within safe limits, reassure her that you've got her back and that she shouldn't second-guess herself. Your baby will be just fine.
If you are able to rid her of her anxieties through understanding her emotions early on, then you've successfully thwarted the mum guilt that is bound to emerge after a decision made when anxious.
There's always a reason for a mum to feel guilty... keep reading on the next page.