Many new mothers find that having a baby changes the way that they feel about themselves. Research done by the University of Tilburg found that most women struggle with self-esteem and identity issues for the first three years of motherhood. The reasons for this can be complex. Having a baby can change your lifestyle, your body, and also your family dynamics. If you want to retain a positive sense of self-identity, however, it means looking at these changes as being a journey of personal growth. You are still the same person you’ve always been, but now you are something even greater too – a mother.
Dealing with pregnancy body changes
During pregnancy, your body undergoes some enormous changes. Hips become wider, breasts become larger, and of course, there is inevitable weight gain as your baby grows. It is not always easy to embrace these changes, but it is an important part of pregnancy. The fact is that your body might never go back to the way that it was before can be disheartening; however, you can look at this as the perfect excuse to go out and buy some new clothes. Use your new wardrobe as a way to express your strong identity as a woman. You have your own unique sense of style, and you can use that to embrace the changes that your body has been through in order to create an incredible new life.
Does my body belong to me?
If you are expressing or breast-feeding your baby then you will notice some big changes. One of the most common questions asked is “does my body belong to me?” Don’t forget that you aren’t a feeding machine – your body is very special, and you are able to use it to nurture your child. Along the way, you may find that you have issues such as cracked nipples or mastitis. But with the help of lotions, shields or shells, you can heal cracked nipples and still breastfeed in the same way that you would heal any obstacle in your life and still carry on. Even when you are feeding a child, your body still belongs to you – nothing will ever take that away from you. But you can also do something extra special with it: nourishing a baby.
A change in career
The majority of new mothers put work on hold for a while when they first have their baby. For many people, their career becomes something that is intrinsically linked with their identity. When you meet someone new at a party, one of the first things that you may be asked is “what do you do?” Whatever profession you answer with, the most important thing to remember is that your career is something that you do to make money. It is not fundamentally who you are. It is not one of the unique characteristics that make up your personality. If you take some time off work to bring up your baby, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have a valued place in society, and whatever you do, never ever use the phrase, “I’m just a mother.” You are doing something that is extremely valuable, and you have that alongside your career. You can even use that time off as the opportunity to consider a change in career, so that when you do go back to work, it can be doing something that you love – a new stepping stone in life.
Retaining a positive sense of self-identity when you’re a new mother is extremely important. You should always remember that you are still the same person, but you now have an incredible, extra dimension to your life, and that will only ever enhance who you are.