Guest Blogger Naya W. future IBCLC, ends IBB’s Healing Series with how motherhood changed her self identity, the time and tips she used to rediscover herself.
Nothing has changed me as much as motherhood. We all know about the changes a woman’s body goes through after having a baby; I’m sure many of us have dealt with the physical changes. A new mom can encounter hormonally driven mood swings, guilt, even postpartum depression and anxiety. Even a woman’s brain changes after pregnancy: the parts relating to emotion, reasoning and judgment, the senses, and reward behavior grow. All of this can take its toll on a mother, leaving her feeling overwhelmed and even lost.
A few months after the births of both of my sons, I found myself asking, “Who am I?” I was a mother first. However I no longer felt like myself. I missed the freedom of being able to get up and go. My days of sleeping in, regular pampering, and designer bags and shoes came to a screeching halt. Even my connection to friends seemed strained, many didn’t care about diapers and reaching milestones. I felt frumpy and unfamiliar with myself.
The first step in finding the new me was acknowledging that I had changed. My priorities had shifted away from myself and to this new little person that depended on me for everything. I was a distant third or fourth on my list of people to take care of, and for a while I really resented it. It’s normal and okay to feel that way. Somewhere between birth classes and breastfeeding support groups, I made new pregnancy friends that became new mom friends. I was thankful to have other women going through similar experiences. We really lifted each other and laughed with each other. I had found my mama village.
My tips for rediscovering yourself as a mother include:
- Don’t rush it. Whether your goal is new friends, accepting your new body, or adjusting to your new priorities, give yourself time. It will happen. Motherhood becomes smoother as you find your new normal and your new routine.
- Get help if you need it. Professional help truly saved me after the birth of my second son. My “baby blues” weren’t going away and I felt like I was drowning. I sought out a psychologist specializing in postpartum mood disorders and started down the long path to healing. My therapist suggested I join a fitness group designed for mothers. I was
able to bring my children and it had me interacting with other adults while enjoying the endorphins that come with exercise. There I found a group of like-minded, supportive women, my new mama village. The help of other mothers is priceless.
- Self care. If you are able to or comfortable with it, leave your kid(s) with your partner or a trusted adult. Get a haircut, food, or coffee by yourself. If you’re unable to leave the children, take time for yourself regularly at home as you can. Guided meditation or journaling can help you reconnect with yourself. Additionally, positive affirmations can make a difference in how you feel about yourself.
Motherhood will change you and it can be a lot to handle. Remember to give yourself time to adjust. Accepting the changes you’ve been through in a short amount of time and acknowledging your new life are key steps. By spending some time on yourself, you will feel renewed and have a great sense of self. “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”