Birth of a Mother (how did Mary cope?)
We all know about the birth of Jesus at Christmas but what about Mary? How did she cope emotionally with having a baby (let alone the son of God!) Whether or not you are religious, we can all imagine how having a baby can have a huge impact on us emotionally.
The term ‘Matrescence’, or the process of becoming a mother, is used to describe the huge change of identity women go through once they have a baby.
According to Dr Alexandra Sachs, psychiatrist and co-author of ‘What No-one Tells you; A Guide to your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood’ (coming Spring 2019 & available to pre-order) there are four key things to look out for:
Changing family dynamics - Have you thought about how you were mothered? And your mother was mothered? What are you roles in your family as a daughter, sister, aunt? These change when a baby arrives as you go from a couple to a family of your own.
Ambivalence - A common experience for new first time mothers is the feeling of wanting your child close but also craving space for yourself. Motherhood is good and bad at the same time and it can feel uncomfortable to try and hold these two feelings in us.
Fantasy vs Reality - By the time your baby makes an appearance, you will have built up an image in your mind about what your baby and your life would be like. You will have added to this from what you heard from friends, family and no-doubt instagram. When the reality differs, we can struggle emotionally.
Guilt, shame and the “Good Enough Mother” - We as women, partners, mothers, colleagues, team mates, and so on have needs that at times can feel at odds to what we feel we ‘should’ be doing for our child. Even though we hear the term “good enough’ parent, some mothers feel like for them this is ‘settling’ and want to strive for perfection (which I would argue is an impossible bar to aim to!) If we need to go back to work to feel emotionally fulfilled we also feel guilt that we should be there for our child 24/7 even though we know it takes a village to raise a child.
It can be such an emotionally traumatic time especially if you feel like your pregnancy and birth were traumatic and disempowering, that it’s no wonder between 10-15% of mothers experience Postnatal Depression (PND). The dissonance between what we expect, what is reality and what we miss from our pre-motherhood selves can be overwhelming.
Dr Sachs puts is succinctly: “When women find themselves feeling lost somewhere between who they were before motherhood and who they think they should be now, many worry that something is terribly wrong, when in fact this discomfort is absolutely common.”
Are you a new mum and do these ideas resonate with you? Are you pregnant and feeling some of these thoughts already? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Remember, you’ve got this mama!