How does one feel after becoming a mother?

Lisa Oz
Health Education

Being a mother is the most rewarding and the most frustrating experience. Kids challenge you, mold you, and in many ways, define you. This relationship, at least in terms of influence, is definitely a two-way street.

When you have a child, you become a hostage to fortune; you feel like your heart is walking outside your body. Having a baby is the most terrifying thing you will ever do. Nothing makes you more vulnerable than having a child. However, it also brings you inestimable joy and fulfillment. Scarily, just because you can have a baby does not mean that you have any clue about what to do with the baby once he or she is born. We are not like other mammals, who have the ability to nurture coded somewhere in their DNA.

Motherhood is a unique time in your life - you are on the threshold between being a child and a mother. You experience not just the birth of a baby, but your own rebirth as well - of your identity as a woman, rather than a girl. Having a baby makes you grow up quickly. You are no longer free to pursue whatever you want - even if all you want is to sleep through the night.

We are biologically programmed to connect with our babies. The hormones surging through our bodies make us love them, no matter what. This does not mean that a mother's love is straightforward or uncomplicated. Postpartum depression is real and very serious for many women. Even for those of us who have never had mood swings, a million minor things may interfere with our ability to bond with our child. Everything from external time demands to self-generated obstacles, like impatience and insecurity, conspire to rob us of the unique experience that is the mother/infant relationship.

Mia Redrick

Becoming a mother makes you feel joyful, elated, empowered, and invincible.  You've just pushed another human being out of your body, and you're unprepared for all the things that come so quickly.  While you're in the hospital, you've got plenty of help, but when you go home, it's all up to you.

It's an exciting time because of the newness of the experience, but it is also a time of great uncertainty.  It's the first time we realize that it's possible to love someone so much.  Becoming a mother expands the parameters of what love looks like to you by opening up a part of your heart that you didn't know existed.  This kind of love is entirely different than the love you have for your parents, spouse, etc.

Becoming a mother allows you to be able to love from a different part of who you are.  Being a new mom can come with feelings of inadequacy because there is a learning curve involved.  It's important to be realistic about the transition to motherhood because the more realistic you are about it, the easier it is to get through those difficult things.

Suddenly you have experiences like having to stay awake all night to care for your baby, crying, colic, loss of prior freedoms, lack of help, and other adjustments.  Your life is entirely different, and you're learning how to adapt and figure out everything during a time when you are so tired that you can't see straight.  

The important thing to realize is that you're not alone.  All mothers experience the same process, and you will get through it.  You don't have to be perfect, but you do have to understand that it's OK to make mistakes in motherhood.  All mothers make mistakes, and you will too.  Just don't be judgmental with yourself.  


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.