Strollers, diaper bags, diapers, clothes, cute clothes… but what about the mother that is being birthed? The most often overlooked aspect to preparing for motherhood is the massive spiritual and psychological shift that occurs as we transition from maiden to mother.
Although my shift has felt relatively smooth, I chalk it up to have made space to “do the work” prior to giving birth.
I now am so honored to have been giving the opportunity to lead motherhood yoga retreats, and have these conversations over and over. I’m sharing here for the greater community so that we all may be supported in our own personal journey.
Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful in supporting this transition for myself and others.
Yes, it’s hard. Motherhood is spiritual bootcamp for the uninitiated.
And let’s assume most of us are uninitiated. Before parenthood, our lives are largely self-centered. And this is fine, but be prepared to be broken in. The number one confession I’m privy to is “it’s hard, I wish someone would’ve told me”.
In yoga, to prepare for meditation (or extended concentration), we’re taught to do austerities. Although they are more difficult to find, there are texts related the to role of mother and father. And as may seem obvious, it is said you don’t need to stand on your head or hold your breath to experience the benefit of yoga, but simply running your household with right attitude is plenty of austerity.
Think about it – baby crying at night, the endless errands, the endless meals, snacks, the constant cleaning and laundry. All of these strengthen character, if we can think of taking on this role as a way to chisel us into the diamond of personality we have underneath the covering layers.
2. Know that this shift isn’t just with the first child. The relationship grows with the partner.
We must learn ways to communicate our needs and desires. And do so in a way that isn’t threatening (ie, non-violent communication). Often these needs and desires have changed from before coming a mother for the first, second+ time. It can feel destabilizing, unfamiliar to yourself, so of course it feels this way when relating to your partner.
3. Create “space” for this transition.
What does this mean? Now is the time to lighten commitments. In planning for pregnancy (or adoption!) also plan for the transition period or postpartum. Postpartum can also be thought of as the space for transition into a new role.
When starting a new job, how long do you expect to acclimate to the new environment and role? Now imagine if that new job is your ENTIRE life.
Find space in the form of extra hands so you can take care of yourself.
Find space in the form of several hours to a few days a week off, just for quiet time. This does not make you a bad mom. It makes you a refreshed and rejuvenated mom.
4. Find a village. Tell others about the village.
Connect with other friends that are already mothers. Preferably those who values align with ours (as we find out there are SO many types of parenting, and it’s easier when we have a small supportive group of our decisions). Join Facebook groups. And then actually attend the meet-ups. It takes a little bit of effort, but the benefits of feeling normal are so worth it.
In creating community for ourselves, we also have an obligation to tell others about community. It seems half of the issue is awareness.
A super accessible, online non-profit village is 4th Trimester Arizona. It’s worth visiting your local monthly online meet-up and connecting as a way to support each aspect of this transition.
5. Diet Matters. Eat to nourish.
I am no stranger to body image issues. But part of this new role means accepting where we are and acknowledging that the time of postpartum is NOT the time to diet. When we feed our cells, we feeds our minds. There is no doubt now, the research is showing, that what we eat directly affects our mental state.
How many times have we heard this, and what does this mean?
Prepare, prepare, prepare. When our brains are starved, we crave foods that will bring calories quick – simple sugars. But if we can keep our blood sugar stable, we will think clearer, have fewer cravings and be more present with our growing family.
6. Become a warrior.
Lastly, motherhood can feel like becoming a warrior. Balancing all the things and yourself. Treat yourself like you would a warrior. Gear up, find your strength, find your resilience. Treat every obstacle as a mountain to be conquered. Be intentional. But be a warrior of peace, of love.
In my opinion, the transition from maiden to mother is one of the most effective ways we can bring positive benefit to our communities. Our children will interact with many people in the world. Showing up as your highest, best self will give them permission to do the same. Do you recognize your seemingly simple, small role as one of such power? If not, it may be time to access that power and live it.