I’m a new mum; but who am I? Dealing with loss of identity in motherhood.
Nothing welcomes you more to motherhood than completely losing yourself. You look in the mirror and not sure who you see looking back at you. You haven’t showered in days, your hair isn’t brushed, you’re wearing PJs at 4pm and you probably can’t remember what you did 15 minutes ago, am I right? Or am I right?
Being a mumma is the greatest, most loving and most rewarding time of your life, but it is also incredibly hard. Adjusting to sleep deprivation, especially those 3am feed times that feel like they last a lifetime, your body trying to repair itself, your daily intake out the window, your mind shattered... it takes a toll. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if baby brain stays around a little longer than you were expecting. It’s the icing on the cake, really!
And while, motherhood is totally worth every bit of pain, sleep deprivation and pure exhaustion (trust me), what I wasn’t prepared for is the loss of my identity. It’s been confronting, confusing and tough.
A sense of loss
Becoming a mumma is the most selfless act on the universe. From the second you find out you’re pregnant, you’ve most likely already given up thinking about yourself. You’re now thinking baby names, nursery decor, private or public hospital care and your baby shower.
It’s no surprise then that in the lead up to giving birth, you’ve trained your mind to put your baby first, but, what if I told you that chances are you will likely experience a sense of loss of identity directly after childbirth?
This is often confused with the baby blues, a common symptom experienced two to three days post birth, where you might feel teary, anxious and moody. Postnatal depression occurs when these symptoms don’t go away after a few weeks, and you start to question what is wrong with you, and possibly become depressed.
You’re not alone
Firstly, let me start by saying that nothing is wrong with you and what you are going through is completely normal. What you’re experiencing is a disconnect with who you are now and who you were before your baby.
Motherhood changes everything. It changes friendships, careers, communication, emotions, culture and relationships. On one side, you have this new profound gift of unconditional love, and on the other you have no idea who you are as a person.
You are no longer who you once where, you are now someone’s mum. Your priorities have changed, your way of thinking has changed and your need to overprotect your bub kicks in (hard).
Stop the scrolling
One of the biggest feelings as a new mum is a sense of loneliness, and what do we do when we are lonely? Get our phone!
I, for one, definitely turn to social media when I feel isolated, however, I find it sometimes makes me more depressed! Of course, everyone on social media only posts about happy times, but as a new mum, seeing posts of other mummas who are back to their skinny old selves, glowing and radiating motherhood, while I sit in pjs, maternity pad, breast pump sucking the life out of me, wondering why I haven’t bounced back like these women, can be torture!
And if you’re someone like me who was/is career driven, ambitious, curious and social, and very aware of my physical appearance, then you may be in for a rude awakening too. Call me naïve, but I did not think motherhood would be so tough. No planning or preparation can prepare you for it.
Don’t forget self-care
As we sit and watch our newborn sleep so peacefully, trying to sleep when your baby sleeps, we all know that we don’t. We get up and catch up on cleaning, make something to eat, pump (if you’re breastfeeding), have a shower, get dressed (or back in your dressing gown), pee, write a shopping list or a list for newborn essentials as your baby has probably already grown, and then prepare some tea. By that time your beautiful bundle of joy is awake, and you repeat your last two hours all over again, but this time, with less rest.
However, the reality is that it’s really important as a new mum to take some time for yourself to recoup and reflect on the experience you’ve had. Some ways to do this are:
- Have a bath filled with essential herbs to relax and heal your mind, body and soul. (We have one the best Postpartum Soaks available, check it out)
- Get essential oils in the house to relax your senses and keep you present.
- Play relaxing music to keep your nerves calm, and
- Stop what you’re doing and go to sleep, the cleaning and cooking can be left to someone else or another time.
Your baby needs you at your best. They thrive when you thrive, and it’s important that this time is spent bonding and healing together. But most importantly, talk to someone. A friend, a family member, your partner or even a support service (like the start talking program at Gidget Foundation Australia) they really helped me. Basically, someone who understands what you are going through and can help guide you into feeling yourself again, even if they are just good at listening.
Stay connected with friends and family and ask for help. Everyone in your life wants to be there for you and is waiting for you to pick up the phone and tell them what to do. Don’t be shy, and remember you.are.not.alone.
Sending you all the love in the world on your new and exciting adventure mummas!
Want to read more about becoming a new mum or have a topic you’d like us to address? Email us, we’d love to hear from you!