I’m sure you had a life before the conception and birth of your child, I know I did. Who you are doesn’t magically change because you’re a mother. Yes, you have a new baby who needs your attention to thrive, but you’re still you with desires, goals and idiosyncrasies.
We’re living in what appears to be a collective renaissance of self-enhancement, especially where I live in Los Angeles. Everyone is trying to be the best version of themselves by keeping a healthy lifestyle and chasing their dreams. As with anything, you shouldn’t stop trying to be the best version of yourself when you become a parent.
If you’re a stay at home mother the household and lifestyle requirements still need to be maintained. A home doesn’t run itself, and even with a regular housekeeper, someone has to make sure that everything is being done to the desired specifications and that scheduled events like doctor’s appointments are met. Making a stable home life for your family is an important component of being a high functioning mother.
If you have a job outside of the home it can be daunting to stay connected to it while welcoming your new baby into your family. There are many thoughts and things to consider when you’re a working mother. Is your baby going to forget who you are when you’re gone? Are you going to miss out on opportunities to grow in your career if you take too much time out? Are you a horrible mother if you have to do daycare, because hiring an in-home nanny is too expensive? Can you even breastfeed if you go back to work? Is it acceptable to do formula?
Some mothers run their own business from home and face a myriad of other challenges. Working from home is no easy feat with a newborn. It’s difficult for entrepreneur moms to take time off and not feel anxious about falling behind on their goals. When you have a baby or small child it’s next to impossible to work from home without child care support. Even when you have a qualified caregiver in the home it’s hard not to be distracted by the needs of your child. Working from home requires discipline, focus and support to be successful.
I worked with a mother who is an artist and she had a rough landing into motherhood. Her labor didn’t go as planned, and she had a cesarean. She wanted to breastfeed, but got off to a rocky start. She needed extra support, but her husband couldn’t take a leave of absence from work. She decided to hire me as a doula while she took time to heal and establish breastfeeding. Soon after, she gradually resumed work before what’s normally considered “appropriate” for a postpartum mother recovering from a cesarean. When I went to visit her a few weeks later, I could see her joy had returned. She was confident and happy while caring for her baby. She had taken action to reconcile who she was with new motherhood and it came together for her in a positive way. She didn’t follow anyone’s plan but her own.
Before the baby arrives, many mothers plan the nurseries, where baby is going to sleep, which childbirth class to take, and make a birth plan. They wonder if they have enough diapers, if they will be able to breastfeed, or if their friends will judge if they decide to do formula instead. There is so much information coming from numerous directions and no time to really reflect on what you truly visualize for motherhood.
If you want to truly be the best mother for your child, you will need to be confident in yourself as a decision maker and trust your instincts in knowing what is best for yourself and your baby. It’s a muscle you will have to flex time and again during your journey as a parent.