Women with ADHD often wonder if their symptoms will get worse during and after pregnancy.

Simple answer is maybe yes and maybe no!

The Effects of Pregnancy on Women with ADHD Symptoms: How feelings of self-doubt or feeling not good enough may increase during the transition into motherhood.

For women with ADHD, pregnancy can intensify symptoms due to a variety of factors. Although some women report feeling better than ever during pregnancy, hormonal changes play a significant role in the manifestation of ADHD symptoms, which may explain this difference.

However, this blog post focuses on what impact the secondary ADHD symptoms might have on women during and after pregnancy. Specifically, it delves into the emotional toll that ADHD can have on mothers.

I remember having a realization one day when meeting up with a couple different mom friends. None of these friends have ADHD but they were all struggling with a variety of things. One friend had just been promoted into a high-level position and for the first time she really started to doubt her ability. She talked about starting to question if she was good enough and wondered how to juggle the responsibilities of work and home. I remember thinking to myself good god, I question if I am good enough every day. I doubt my ability and question if I can juggle everything every day. When going into motherhood if this is a shame trigger for you, it might be helpful to talk with someone. There are numerous ways to not feel good enough as a new mom every day with and without ADHD. This is where some women with ADHD may spiral and feel overwhelmed with their emotions. Getting support early can keep that negative self-talk at bay.

Extra Vulnerable

My other friend was struggling with a significant loss she experienced. She talked about how vulnerable this experience had made her feel and how much she was struggling being so vulnerable. Typically, she would never really allow herself to feel so vulnerable. And again, I thought to myself, good god because of my ADHD and Dyslexia I feel vulnerable every day. I don’t know how NOT to feel vulnerable.

As a new mother, there is an extra layer of vulnerability, and it’s not only during labor and delivery. If you already feel vulnerable because of your ADHD, it’s essential to note that you may experience heightened vulnerability that goes beyond your typical ways of coping. Acknowledging this fact can help you learn how to manage it effectively. However, you also might need to increase your coping mechanisms. 

Unrealistic Expectations

The Pressure of Unrealistic Expectations on New Moms

It is common for individuals to have these reactions to life events, but for many moms with ADHD, these reactions can become an everyday occurrence and difficult to manage. During my pregnancy, I gave myself the permission to struggle, and this helped me manage my concerns related to ADHD. However, after having my baby, for some reason I didn’t give myself that same sense of permission, and my expectations for myself became unreasonably high. One particular expectation that weighed heavily on my mind was that if I couldn’t comfort my son, then no one else would be able to. This self-imposed pressure was overwhelming and can easily make us feel like we are not doing enough as moms.

Women with ADHD often set high expectations for themselves as a coping mechanism to hide their difficulties. They believe that they must be mistake-free to level the playing field with others. However, as responsibilities increase during and after pregnancy, it becomes increasingly more challenging to keep up with these self-held expectations. 

 If you’re an ADHD mom, keep in mind that simply navigating the neurotypical world on a daily basis requires more effort than most. Therefore, a little self-compassion and acceptance can go a long way!

ADHD, Parenting and Mindset

When I was little, I wanted to be a mother when I grew up. For a long time, life had other plans. However, what held me back the most from becoming a mother earlier in life wasn’t my ADHD symptoms per say but it was what I told myself about my ADHD. “If I am overwhelmed just by trying to manage my own life, how could I possibly add a partner and a child to the mix.” This narrative stayed with me each step of the way until I was ready to challenge this negative belief about myself.

Listening to the things you tell yourself about how you are coping during and after your pregnancy is crucial in keeping your ADHD symptoms manageable. Many moms with ADHD find having a self-compassionate mantra posted up on their wall to be helpful. What would yours say?

Mommas, we are made and hardwired for resiliency!

Have you had enough of ADHD ruling your life? Want to change your inner narrative? Check out my ADHD Momma Time E-Workbook for guidance, you are going to love it! In the meantime, yes, you will make tons of mistakes and still get overwhelmed during and after your pregnancy, but you can do way more than you ever give myself credit for. Don’t forget that!

Try giving yourself permission to just be YOU! Yes, 100% there will be challenges associated with ADHD and being a mom, especially if your baby triggers some unresolved stuff, or you have sensory sensitivities, and really struggle with executive functioning.  But you know what, with the right type of guide, supports, & environment you can do anything! So, try to focus on what YOU CAN DO! and not on what our ADHD says you can’t.

Therefore, in circling back to the original question, does ADHD symptoms get worse during and after pregnancy? Check out my other blogs posts for additional insights on the role hormones and ADHD during the transition into motherhood but for now I say, it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.