Overcoming Mom Guilt:

From the Baby Stage to Teenage Years and Beyond

By Janell Vinson
Baptist Health Pediatric Clinic-Conway

As a pediatrician, having honest conversations is an important part of my job, and today I want to have one about motherhood. 

There’s no experience quite like becoming a mom. It’s wonderful, disorienting and exhilarating all at once. But how would I know? I’m a doctor for kids, right?

 Well, first of all, I am a mom myself to four beautiful girls. Secondly, though I do care for children, I also serve as a partner to parents, helping them as they raise healthy, well-adjusted kids. In fact, supporting moms in every stage of their child’s life is one of my favorite and most crucial parts of my job.

 Women are the heartbeat of the home. They keep the pieces together. And when a mom feels empowered in her motherhood journey, she’s best equipped to care for her kids. But motherhood can also come with mixed emotions – doubt, fear, uncertainty, or guilt. A common phrase I hear often in today’s society is “mom guilt,” otherwise known as a mom feeling less-than, or that she’s done something wrong that could potentially harm her child…whether that’s true or not. 

I often work with moms to identify and overcome these feelings so that motherhood during each phase, from infancy to adolescence and beyond, is the best that it can be. 

Babies and Young Children

Caring for Infants

The first weeks with a newborn come with a lot of emotions. My new moms show up to those first appointments so full of hope, joy and delight, but inevitably the baby won’t sleep, or they’ll have questions about feeding, or they’ll simply be overwhelmed. It’s easy to succumb to feelings of mom guilt during these early days. To help combat this, I tell moms to keep it simple by focusing on making sure their baby eats, pees, poops and sleeps. If all of those things happen and the baby is gaining weight, they are doing a great job.

Choosing a Pediatrician

In addition to taking care of your child, this early stage of your baby’s life is a great time to establish a strong relationship with a pediatrician you trust. Like I said earlier, your pediatrician is your partner in making sure your child is as strong and healthy as possible. It’s important you are completely open about your child’s emotional, physical and mental health. You should also feel like you can ask any and all questions you may have. A pediatrician can be your biggest ally in overcoming mom guilt, so if you’re not comfortable sharing all your thoughts, concerns and questions with the first pediatrician you see, keep searching until you find one that puts you at ease.

Taking Care of Yourself

Caring for young children requires an enormous amount of energy – energy that you won’t have if you don’t take care of yourself first. Though it may sound counterintuitive, prioritizing your wellness is one of the best things you can do for children. Go to doctor’s appointments, meet up with friends, enjoy the self-care activities you loved before your child was born, and prioritize time to connect with your partner. Let go of any mom guilt holding you back, and give your kids the happiest, healthiest version of yourself.

Pre-teens and Teenagers

Taking It One Day at a Time

Your child goes through an incredible amount of change in their pre-teen and teenage years. Some seasons will be tough, and you’ll have to adjust your parenting and your expectations to fit what your child needs at that time. In other seasons your child will thrive, and you’ll need to adjust your parenting strategy again.

With so much variability, you won’t be able to do everything right, all the time. You may get frustrated and do or say something you regret. One of the toughest challenges with overcoming mom guilt is learning to accept that you make mistakes. While those moments aren’t fun, they are actually some of the most important teaching moments you’ll have with your child. When they see that you’re human, and you know how to address problems when you mess up, they learn how to do the same. Though a lot is happening in this phase of your child’s life, all you can do is take it day by day and do your best in every moment without looking back on the past with guilt or worrying about the future.

Setting Your Kids Up for a Healthy Future

I encourage kids to take an active role in their health by asking them questions during their pediatrician appointments beginning as early as four years old. While my littlest patients are eager to answer my questions, teenagers need more prompting to engage in a productive conversation. As a mom, it’s important to encourage your child to share their health concerns and questions with their pediatrician. Then after the appointment, help your child apply any new health tips or habits suggested by their provider.

Continuing to Care for Yourself

Though the all-encompassing early years of your child’s life are over, it’s still important you take time for self-care and reject any feelings of mom guilt. The pre-teen and teenage years bring their own set of challenges, and you need to be your healthiest self to meet them head on.


A mother’s work is never done. Even after your kids grow up and leave your house, they’ll always need your support and encouragement. I have Crohn’s Disease, and my mom still reminds me to take care of myself and empowers me on my health journey, just like she has my entire life.

There are so many different seasons in motherhood. If you’re in a crazy one, embrace the chaos. If you’re in a calm one, enjoy the quiet. Each phase is full of blessings, and I encourage you to soak up every last one.

Janell Vinson, MD

Dr. Vinson studied medicine at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I., and obtained her residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department of Pediatrics.

Vinson, who is board certified in pediatrics, previously practiced in general pediatrics at Merit Health River Region Hospital in Vicksburg, Miss. She also worked in pediatrics at Neshoba County General Hospital and Nursing Home in Philadelphia, Miss.

Dr. Janell Vinson enjoys cooking, reading, and entertaining friends and family. “I have an amazing family, which includes a very supportive husband and four sweet girls.”

She and her family attend New Life Church-Greater Little Rock, where they are involved in various church-sponsored activities.

Dr. Vinson joined the Baptist Health Pediatric Clinic-Conway in 2018. The clinic is located at 625 United Drive, Suite 360, which is on the Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway campus. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and accepts new patients.


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