The biggest surprise, when I became a new mum, was not the immediate change to my life—it was the almost instant loss of the person I was.
Not just physically scarred or emotionally worn out—I had become a mum.
I birthed a child into the world who was completely dependent on me. The emotions, the love, the vulnerability, the fear—it was all so new.
But, I didn’t expect to feel I had lost myself in the process.
The person I was—with a career, marriage, social life, vision, dreams—had altered, and it took a while to get to know the new me.
To figure out who I was as a mum—how I wanted to be. My priorities, purpose and passion had changed. Things that had once been important weren’t anymore.
The adjustment to the new me and my new normal took some time, but I learned in the process.
Here are six tips on transitioning into motherhood with as few bumps as possible:
As new mums, we get bombarded with advice and information from the internet, shops, friends, family, health workers, midwives and well-meaning passersby. It is total overload. You constantly worry whether you are “doing it right,” when the reality is you know your baby better than anyone, so really you just need to listen to your instinct.
Mother’s instinct is there for a reason, but with all the external noise, one can begin to question oneself.
Take just five minutes at any time of day (you can do this at bedtime, so there’s no excuse!) to calm the mind, slow the breath and connect head to heart. By taking a few minutes to mediate each day, we give ourselves the chance to reconnect with our inner guidance and strengthen that instinctive connection.
Learning to be fully present through mindfulness will help to tame the Monkey Mind, which is compulsive, hyperactive and dominated by excessive thinking. It stops us from feeling emotions directly and takes us away from experiencing the present moment. It forces us to focus on concerns, “what ifs” and negative scenarios—which is a rocky road for any new mum who is flooded with hormones, emotions and tiredness.
Instead, learn passive awareness. Let those thoughts enter your head and pass through. Be still. Be silent. Observe as an outsider, but do not get attached to the thoughts or try to fight them.
Just let them be.
To reduce excessive thinking, get outside in nature. Stand on the sand or grass, or get in the sea and ground yourself. Move—be active and raise your pheromones to relieve any stress or negativity.
As a new mum, your time is led by a newborn, and it is easy to forget yourself. But even if it’s just once a week, take some time out for yourself, and do something that the “old you” would have done. Delve into the person you were before, and bring little bits of joy and self-care into your week as the new you.
You are your priority. Your health is important. Your sanity is important. Your happiness is important. So drop the mummy guilt for giving yourself time out. Investing in you is investing in being the best mum you can be.
Be kind to yourself.
We put ourselves under so much pressure to do everything we did pre-baby—yet we have a whole heap of new responsibilities and chores. Attempting to be super-mum does not help anyone when you’re multitasking and nothing is actually getting done.
Be kind to yourself and know you will make mistakes—but you will carry on, and all will be well. Be kind to yourself and know the baby weight will eventually go, so learn to love your body as it is. It has just achieved an amazing task. Be kind to yourself and know that while your brain is fuzzy, this is perfectly normal. Be kind to yourself and the words you use to yourself internally and externally.
Remember, you are doing an amazing job—just as you are.
These expectations we (and society) put on ourselves are overwhelming. Lower your expectations of what you can achieve on a daily basis, and you won’t feel like you’ve failed. Give yourself just one task each day so you are not stressed or overwhelmed. Accept that, for a while, your pace of life is slower. As newborns become babies, and babies become toddlers, you can adjust your workload accordingly. Right now, the dishes can wait and the finger marks on the mirror can stay there.
And that’s okay.
Many of us start with the intention to be the (unobtainable) perfect mum—whatever that means!
Stop the judgment of yourself. It’s okay to not do what you thought you would. And stop the judgment of others—you don’t know their story, and they don’t know yours. Show love and compassion instead. We’re all doing our best.
Motherhood, for all of its challenges, is the greatest gift.
Here’s to building each other up, holding out a hand and giving a little nod and a smile.
Mums, we’re in this together.
Author: Rebecca Grainger
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person/Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Susana Fernandez