Why mothers feel “touched” and how to deal with it

As a breastfeeding mother of three children Crystal Duhaney the feeling of being “touched” is not alien. She describes it as “reaching the point where constant body contact just takes a little air to breathe.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love snuggling and snuggling with my little ones, but there are moments when I feel like I’ve had enough,” says Duhaney, a registered nurse, lactation consultant and founder of MilkyMamasaid HuffPost.

“Imagine having tiny hands pulling at your clothes, clinging to your legs, lifting your shirt, and constantly wanting to be held. It can be overwhelming, especially when you add in breastfeeding. Sometimes you just want a moment of personal space to recharge your batteries and organize your thoughts.”

This phenomenon is most commonly reported by mothers, but it can also occur in any parent or caregiver. Some have described it as skin crawling or claustrophobic Feeling. For Duhaney, the touch can make her feel “a little irritable and impatient.”

“It’s like my body is craving a break from the endless physical demands,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. It’s just a natural response to constant touch and sensory stimulation.”

Parents can be touched for a variety of reasons. In particular, the almost constant physical contact when looking after small children contributes significantly to this – think breastfeeding, rocking, holding, cuddling, babywearing, sleeping together, etc. Personal freedom and time for yourself are scarce when you have a baby or toddler .

“Nursing demands, especially combined with frequent nursing sessions, can increase the feeling of being touched,” Duhaney said.

“Sometimes you just want a moment of personal space to recharge your batteries and organize your thoughts.”

– Krystal Duhaney, mothering and lactation consultant

Add to that the “sensory overload from the combination of physical touch, noise and other stimuli” that can be overstimulating for moms, she added. This can be particularly pronounced for mothers with ADHD or other neurodivergent parents.

The heavy mental and emotional burdens of modern parenting — like that Striving to try to “do anything” — also likely play a role in feeling touched, experts say.

“When you’re worried and thinking about your child, your spouse, and all the other responsibilities you’re responsible for, there’s not much room left to think about yourself,” says the marriage and family therapist Gayane Aramyan said HuffPost.

Of course, all of this can also affect the relationship with your partner. Aramyan said her clients, who are moms, often tell her that at the end of the day they “literally don’t want to be touched anymore” and “just want their own space.”

“It’s really difficult to give non-toddler family members space for close, intimate touch when you’re clinging to a toddler all day.” Psychologist Louise Packard told Motherly.

If you feel touched, here’s how to deal with it

“Whether you’re enjoying a cup of coffee alone, taking a short walk, or just locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes of quiet, those moments of solitude can do wonders,” Duhaney said.

First, keep in mind that this feeling, uncomfortable as it may be, is a very common experience and in no way reflects your parenting skills or the love you have for your family.

Moms often feel guilty about being touched, but they shouldn’t: Physical autonomy is a “normal human need,” says psychologist Jessica Combs Rohr wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today.

“One funny thing about motherhood is that if you respond normally, like a human, to difficult experiences, you almost always feel like you’re a bad mother,” she wrote in the story.

When you reach your touch limit, Share this with your family. Explain that you love her but need some time or space for yourself right now.

If you’re not that overwhelmed, be honest with your partner about how you’re feeling. This will help them understand what you are dealing with and realize that it is nothing personal.

“Set boundaries and ask for support,” Duhaney said. “Your partner, family or friends can help spread the load and give you some breathing room.”

Try to set aside some time for yourself each day—even if you can only manage a few minutes.

“It may only be 10 minutes before everyone else wakes up,” Aramyan said. “Or, during your child’s nap, set aside 10 minutes to do nothing but sit and read or meditate. It’s important to not only fill our cup with girls’ nights out, dates or exercise, but also to have something that happens on a daily basis so we can get something to do for ourselves.”

Duhaney said it’s also important to give yourself permission to take breaks without feeling guilty about it.

“It’s okay to take a step back and recharge your batteries. Find moments throughout the day when you can take some personal space,” she said. “Whether enjoying a cup of coffee alone, going for a short walk, or just locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes of quiet, those moments of solitude can do wonders.”

It can also be helpful to connect with other parents who understand firsthand what you’re going through.

“Find online communities or local moms’ groups where you can share your experiences, vent, and get advice from moms who’ve been there,” Duhaney said. “Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one feeling touched can bring a sense of relief and validation.”

If your partner is the one feeling touched, this is where you can help

If you are the partner of a touched mother, be supportive and understanding. Respect her boundaries, which may mean temporarily shelving your desire for physical affection.

“Show empathy and understanding by acknowledging their feelings and validating their experiences,” Duhaney said. “Tell her you are there for her and ready to help in any way you can.”

Make sure you do your part when it comes to caregiving and other household chores. See where you can do more to relieve them.

“Offer her to do some chores like feeding her, changing her diaper, or doing bedtime routines to give her a break,” Duhaney said. “By sharing the burden, you give her a chance to recharge and have some much-needed personal space.”

“Watch for signs she’s feeling overwhelmed and step in to help before she reaches breaking point.”

– Duhaney

Be proactive without constantly soliciting prompts or reminders from your partner.

“Anticipate their needs and offer help without waiting to be asked. Watch for signs that she’s feeling overwhelmed and help her before she reaches breaking point,” Duhaney said. “Being proactive about chores or giving her a listening ear can go a long way in reducing her stress and making her feel supported.”

Right now, sex might feel like just one more thing she needs to do for someone else — but there are plenty of other ways to encourage intimacy. Maybe that means marking a date night on the calendar once a month, taking 15 minutes in the evening to talk about things other than kids or household logistics, holding hands while watching TV, or her after a long day to massage feet.

Encourage your woman to prioritize time for herself and help her achieve this.

“Encourage her to make time for herself, whether it’s a relaxing bath, a solo trip, or pursuing a hobby she enjoys,” Duhaney said. “Offer to babysit the kids during this time so she can focus on recovery.”

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