Honoring and supporting mothers as they navigate their way through one of life’s most profound transitions.

Here’s the truth: people often talk, with and behave positively, to a pregnant woman – but the conversations suddenly slow once her baby is born. I speak from personal experience.

Before my child was born, I felt a tremendous amount of admiration and support. From constant pre-natal appointments to baby showers and gifts, strangers holding doors for my very pregnant body and cars stopping to let me safely (and slowly) cross the road – I noticed a cultural reverence for pregnant women, and rightly so. A pregnant woman is blessed and beautiful – deserving of love and protection.

But what happens when a pregnant woman transitions to becoming a new mom?

Everything changes.

Often, after the first slew of visitors and hopefully some loving friends and family drop off food, the new mom finds herself alone with her baby. While this can be a time of immense joy and peace as the family takes on a new rhythm and bond, it can also be a time of struggle for the new mom.

Transitioning from a “pregnant woman” to “new mother” means a huge change in cultural status. The former is a goddess, a miracle maker, a symbol of hope and beauty. The latter is a full-time life source to a helpless, noisy and exhausting new human…who, by the way, doesn’t tangibly give back much in return.

Many women feel “dropped” by society after having their babies. Suddenly, the spotlight shifts to baby, and “mom” withdraws backstage. Even doctor appointments have nothing to do with the woman anymore – and what a shame since they are often anxiety-laden for moms who are worried about her baby’s health and the quality of care she is providing.

We MUST give new moms the opportunity and space to talk about what it feels like to transition into this new role, free from judgment. After all, she is responsible for feeding, changing, loving and safeguarding this new life, but she still has her own self that needs to be tended to and honored.

There is so much at stake for the physical and emotional well-being of a new mom. She might be uncomfortable with her body after baby (or babies) and feel self-conscious around her partner. She might not be able to produce milk or nurse her child. She might feel pressure to return to work. She might feel judgment from extended family about her choices for her child. She might have dark or uncomfortable thoughts arise. She might not be able to sleep. All of these experiences are within the range of “normal,” yet so often moms are not prepared for these changes and further, not supported through them. She simply might need space to grieve for what feels like the loss of her independent self.

Having a place to talk about her feelings and be honest about her dark thoughts can be enough for some women. Finding support in other moms who can help her give up the idea of being “perfect” can be powerful. Being realistic about how much baby time she can tolerate is fair.

By making room for a new mom’s experience and really giving her permission to acknowledge the fullness of her experience we are honoring the true path of motherhood.