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Trimester Thursday - The Exhausted Mom: 5 Signs You Need a Break

Posted by Natalie Cassell on

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. So, in honor of that special holiday, I would like to remind us all to be on the lookout for a syndrome called Pure Motherly Exhaustion in ourselves and other breastfeeding mothers. The problem with PME is that the symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of PMS, which someone may have recently accused you of having. Not to worry. I am here to help. If you or anyone you know exhibits these signs and symptoms, it may be time for an intervention.

  1. You can’t remember what a full night of sleep feels like. You actually can’t remember anything. You can’t even remember what you are doing from one moment to the next (read: filled baby’s bottle with ice from the ice maker).
  2. You recently threatened your husband with a vasectomy for his birthday. Or maybe you just silently plot his demise while he sleeps through yet another painful breastfeeding session or all-night teething-induced rage-cry.
  3. You could weave a blanket from the hair on your legs. Showers have been reduced to quickly rinsing off your body to the tune of your newborn and/or child crying for you from the other room.
  4. Strangers at the grocery store ask if you are okay. What? Surely you aren’t the first person to sit in the display beanbag chair and fall asleep with their eyes open? Okay, so it wasn’t a display. It was a chair on the bottom shelf, but still.
  5. You snap at anyone that looks at or speaks to you. So, basically, anyone in your presence, including strangers at the grocery store. They walk away assuming your behavior and raccoon eyes are a result of drug abuse.

Okay, mom, you are exhausted, angry (rightfully so, of course), unkempt, and losing your mind a little. When you aren’t plotting ways to inflict physical pain on your partner for their birthday, I’m sure you are agonizing over whether you should continue breastfeeding or whether you should be a parent at all. You need a break!

First, don’t let the mom-guilt creep in. We all need breaks. There is a reason people get paid to care for babies and small children. It is work. Whether you go to work or stay at home, you are probably performing at least 5 different jobs on a daily basis. It’s called motherhood. And here is one simple step to get the break you NEED:

Ask for help.

You know the saying: It takes a village… Well, it does. If you are single or low on cash, this might be trickier, but it can be done. Seek out other moms. Odds are they could use a break too. Take turns exchanging children or hanging out at each other’s house to give the other one a chance to take a shower or nap. Check out local daycares or Mother’s Day Out programs. You can find some pretty low rates for hourly or half-day care. Spending $20 for a few hours alone once a week can do wonders for your sanity. Finally, explain to your partner that if you don’t get a break, you might render them infertile. Kidding! But seriously, have a talk with your significant other. You might be surprised to find out that they just needed you to tell them what you need. Be explicit. This is not a time for vagueness. Decide what will make breastfeeding and life as a mother easier, and ask for it. In fact, insist upon it. Because if mama isn’t happy, no one is.


Hi readers! I’m Natalie, writer and mom of two. I am so excited to join The 16 Minute Club’s new blog, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. My pudgy breastfed baby, Jackson, is 8 months old and looks like he subsists on whipping cream. You would never know he was once “failing to thrive.” Breastfeeding has certainly had its ups and downs. Like most moms, I spend my days wavering between maternal bliss and horrification at some of the realities of motherhood. After my first child, I was sure I had things figured out. I just knew breastfeeding would be easier with my second. But the truth is that every baby is different, and they each present new challenges. Sometimes they even present the same challenges, but require different solutions.

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