Mama's Touched Out: What’s Going On (and What To Do About It)

Act one, scene one. 

The baby is on your hip, screaming to be fed while your body screams back that you are tired, achy, and feeling claustrophobic. There’s a toddler latched to your leg, asking (repeatedly) about watching Mickey Mouse and you want to say yes, but you just can’t fathom adding any more noise to the mix of chaos whirling around the room. The dog is trailing behind, whining for food, and your clothes feel too tight, boobs too big, hair too dirty, and mind beyond overworked. And you can’t even stop to cry because all you can think is that your babies need you and you are failing them. 

And… cut.

This movie plays on repeat for mother’s who are touched out, or feeling overwhelmed with physical touch to the point of panic or even disgust. It’s a sense of overstimulation and sensory overload that becomes unbearable and bleeds into other aspects of life, fueling guilt and even relationship changes with partners. It can feel isolating and leave you wondering how your heart can yearn to nurture your family with love and affection while your mind and body beg for the opposite. 

You are not alone. In fact, according to experts, this uncomfortable and guilt-riddled sensation is a common experience among caregivers, primarily mothers. Though it may feel helpless now, there are things you can do to alleviate the pressures of motherhood and regain your bodily autonomy. 

  • Ask for backup: When you're touched out, communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling and lean on them for support. Share what's on your mind, talk through what you think would help, and cry if you need to. This can open the door for understanding, so your partner is equipped to step in and provide relief. It can also spark communication about lack of affection due to being touched out. The more they grasp the emotions, triggers, and strains of being physically overwhelmed, the deeper your connection will grow, so you can work toward reigniting the flames of intimacy together. 

If help still feels out of reach, consider seeking professional aid or other readily available resources. Your feelings could be part of a larger issue such as postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is common and curable. In fact, approximately 1 in 10 women will experience PPD. The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is confidential and available 24/7 to pregnant and new mothers. Momwell is also an excellent source for virtual therapy and evidence-based workshops designed to give you the tools you need to cope and climb the hurdles of motherhood. There’s no shame in asking for help - your holistic health is vital for a long and happy life for you and your children.

  • Try to prioritize "me time" (even if just 10 minutes): Creating time for yourself might seem impossible, but pouring from an empty cup is not sustainable. Fill yourself with peace by taking a few minutes each day to do something that calms you. Sneak away for a short walk, take a hot shower, or simply light your favorite candle to help you relax and find peace (our personal favorite is the “Witching Hour” candle that was designed to help mamas discover serenity in those late hours when baby is fussy). Recharge, catch your breath, and find comfort in knowing your partner has everything handled while you take a moment for your mental health.

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