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The Connection Between Self-Esteem and Maternal Mental Health

March 28, 2024

A Brooklyn mother sitting on a couch with her toddler and new baby playing on an ipad. Maternal self esteem is an essential part of maternal mental health.

The transition to new motherhood is a journey like no other. No matter how many parenting Instagram accounts you have scrolled through or baby care classes you have taken, there is no concrete way to fully prepare for having a child. 

Manhattan new born baby wrapped in a blanket, yawning while being held in mom's arms. Maternal mental health and self esteem are connected.

Whether it is getting your little one to sleep or supporting their first steps, it is hard to remain confident when working through so many unknowns. In fact, research suggests that self-esteem struggles are very common in the first few years of new motherhood. You are not alone in feeling like your confidence has taken a hit. 

When thinking about motherhood, we often focus on our relationship with our child. However, our relationship with ourselves is just as important. From the moment you decide to conceive, you begin a new chapter in your relationship with yourself. Strengthening your self-esteem can ground you as you navigate the ups and downs of motherhood.

Regaining your self-esteem after having a baby can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. By prioritizing your mental health in early motherhood, you can build a foundation of self-compassion, self-acceptance and self-awareness.

Manhattan mom standing on a street playing with her child. Maternal mental health can improve with therapy.

Here are five starting points for building your confidence in motherhood: 

  1. Celebrate Your Wins: New motherhood is the epitome of on-the-job training. With so many unexpected challenges and endless to-do lists, we can sometimes lose sight of how far we have come. Celebrating your accomplishments can create a sense of positive momentum in your motherhood journey. Did you finally find a swaddle your baby likes? Did you get your toddler dressed and ready for school drop-off? No matter how small the accomplishment, take time out of your day to notice and bask in it. Consider calling out these accomplishments to a partner or a member of your support network. Relishing these small moments together can be a positive bonding experience as you go on this journey together.
  2. Create (and Repeat) a Guiding Principle: A guiding principle can be a motivating phrase that you can come back to throughout your day. Creating a guiding principle that resonates with your values as a new mom is a powerful way to treat yourself well when negative thoughts or self-criticism creeps into your mind. Guiding principles don’t have to be complicated. They can be as simple as: “The best mom for my baby is me” or “I am worthy of self-compassion as I navigate this new journey.” Try writing your guiding principle on a sticky note and placing it somewhere you can see it easily or adding it as a reminder on your phone. 
  3. Reconnect with Your Life Outside Motherhood: The challenges of new motherhood can feel all-consuming. It can be easy to forget that there are other aspects of ourselves that might feel more steady and secure than motherhood right now. Consider thinking about the different roles you play in your life and find small ways to reengage with them. If maternity leave has made you miss the confidence you feel at your job, consider planning a Zoom call or coffee catch-up with a colleague. If you yearn for the accomplishment you felt after a great workout class, consider carving out even 15 minutes for a postnatal workout. Filling your cup in this way can serve as a reminder that the you outside of motherhood is still there. 
  4. Use Positive Self-Talk: The stories we tell ourselves shape our reality. Check in with how you are talking to yourself. Would you speak to a best friend the way you talk to yourself? Are you falling into negative thought patterns that magnify your hard moments and downplay your best ones? Break free from this pattern by noticing when you are speaking negatively to yourself and working to reframe your thoughts into a more helpful perspective. This can look like catching yourself thinking, “Everyone else has gotten their baby to sleep through the night by now except me. I am such a failure” and challenging it. A reframed statement leaves space for your emotions while embracing a more positive, realistic perspective. This same thought reframed could sound like, “Hearing that my friend’s babies are sleeping through the night makes me feel very alone. I know sleep is hard right now but I believe my baby will figure it out. Until then, I am going to think of ways I can prioritize the rest I need.” By reframing your thoughts and creating a confident vocabulary you can retrain your brain to notice the good moments and contextualize the hard moments. 
  5. Keep a Self-Esteem Journal: While managing the many demands of motherhood, it can be easy to deprioritize our mental well-being. Consider using a journal as a tangible way to remind yourself of your worth. A self-esteem journal can be as simple as a blank notepad where you can record your daily thoughts or one that contains self-esteem prompts for reflection. Keep the journal by your bedside table or somewhere easy to access. In your journal you can reflect on your inherent worth, traits you love about yourself, how you have grown over time and even just honoring that your thoughts are worthy of being recorded. Consider making a commitment to write in it for even a few minutes a day. While this may sound simple, taking even a short amount of time to check in with yourself is a declaration of self-love.  
Brooklyn mom walking along a shoreline with her toddler. Maternal mental health can improve with higher self esteem. Therapy can help with this.

Finding your footing as a new mom can be a jolt to your self-esteem. By reprioritizing your mental well-being and embracing strategies to boost your self-confidence, you can begin to feel more grounded as a mom.


At Manhattan Wellness, we understand that the fourth trimester is a time of transition and adjustment. From adjusting to your new identity as a mom to navigating infant and postpartum care, it can be an overwhelming process. One that no one prepared you for. That’s why our female therapists want to support you in prioritizing your maternal mental health during the fourth trimester. Let us help you take care of yourself so you can feel confident in your new role as a mom. If you are interested in therapy for your maternal mental health

  1. Submit a Contact Form or Email Us at
  2. Learn More About Our Team and Our Areas of Expertise
  3. Prioritize Your Maternal Mental Health and Embrace the Fourth Trimester!


Our therapists understand that with becoming a new mother, there can be a variety of different needs that arise. Apart from helping you navigate the fourth trimester and maternal mental health, our therapists also offer a variety of services to cater to your individual needs. The therapy services we offer are Anxiety Treatment, Therapy for Depression, Stress Management, and Therapy for Women. As well as Therapy for Self-Esteem, support for, body image therapy, and so much more. Do you feel like you’re not living the life you want and need to make changes? Let’s talk about it.

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