No matter how much experience you gain as a parent and how highly you prioritize your children, it's nearly impossible to shake the worry that you're not doing enough for them. This is a feeling that Serena Williams, who welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia almost a year ago, deals with and wants other mothers to know is completely normal.
In an Instagram post Monday, the tennis pro opened up about the issue of feeling guilty as a parent, reassuring herself and her fellow parents that they're not alone.
"Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom," Williams wrote.
"I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal," she captioned a photo of her standing in front of a sunset over the water. "It's totally normal to feel like I'm not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I'm trying to be the best athlete I can be."
She continued, "However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I'm not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I'm here to say: if you are having a rough day or week—it's ok—I am, too!!! There's always tomm!"
As Williams said, it's totally normal for people to feel stressed after giving birth, which is often exacerbated by our society's unrealistic expectations for new moms.
However, if those feelings become severe—to the point that they're interfering with your life—that may be a sign that something more serious is going on, such as postpartum depression. The symptoms of postpartum depression may include extreme sadness, irritability, or anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health..
But, as SELF wrote previously, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing postpartum depression. In addition to knowing your risk factors ahead of time and making a plan with your doctor, being able to communicate honestly with a solid support system (as Williams described) can help.