Navigating New Motherhood and The Identity of Postpartum


July, 2020

The fourth trimester following childbirth can be a challenging period to navigate as support during pregnancy may have dwindled and during this time the new mother takes on a whole new identity. Becoming a mother is a life-changing and transformational time in which the new mother is also re-born. She needs time to find her feet, and process how her reality and sense of self has shifted.

Embracing a new identity

Dr Britta Bushnell describes the post-partum period as a ‘weaving process’ in which the new mother may have to cut threads from her former identity which no longer serve her and also re-embrace the threads which affirm a sense of self.   As a new mother your priorities and focus have completely shifted which can sometimes cause a feeling of uneasiness, leaving you wondering who you are. Dr Bushnell outlines that there are also developmental stages of parenthood and just as your new-born is growing and evolving each day, so too are you.

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Re-connecting to your body as a new mother

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Your body as a new mama will be different from the body that you knew before. You may find that your relationship to your body has shifted, you may feel immense gratitude for the wonder of your body having created and birthed a miracle. You may feel conflicted as your body may be totally different to how you’ve known it to be. Every feeling and emotion is accepted and is to be embraced. Nurture the relationship with your body through gentle restorative practices such as yin yoga and taking walks with other parents.

Taking time to reflect on the birth experience

The birthing experience for many mothers feels like it was a whirlwind. If there was an element of trauma involved in the process there can be unresolved emotions which need space to be worked through. During this time, you may feel inclined to reach out for support in the form of a trusted friend, family member, Doula, Maternity Nurse or Therapist. It is important to talk about the birthing experience and find peace with any complications or unexpected obstacles to release the stress and allow the nervous system to normalise.

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Importance of relationships and connections

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Feeling stuck in ‘baby brain’ mode? Research shows that it is vital for new mothers to have adult connections in their lives to enhance feelings of wellbeing, to stimulate brain functioning and release feel good hormones. After giving birth many new mamas don’t feel inclined towards previous levels of physical intimacy as the body is undergoing major healing. However, a gentle foot rub, shoulder massage or warm hug from a partner may be most welcome. During the post-partum period it is essential that the new mother feels cared for, nurtured and nourished as she in turn provides this for the new baby.

The days following baby’s arrival can be testing and tender in equal amounts. Knowing that this is completely normal allows the new mother to ease into her new identity without overwhelming feelings of pressure and expectation. If you know a new mother who would benefit from this blog post, please kindly share this with her and let her know what a wonder woman she is.

To find out more about post-natal support options for your family please get in touch, one of our dedicated team members will be happy to assist.