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Becoming a Mother

2nd Jan 2014


When looking through some old midwifery notes I came across this interesting piece from a book that I had copied out. It tells us about the psychological impact of having a baby. It struck me as absolutely true, so I will quote from Stern and not re-write it.


“In a sense, a mother has to be born psychologically much as her baby is born physically. What a woman gives birth to in her mind is not a new human being, but a new identity: the sense of being a mother.


The motherhood mindset is not born at the moment the baby gives its first cry. The birth of a mother does not take place in one dramatic, defining moment, but gradually emerges from the cumulative work of the many months that precede and follow the actual birth of the baby.


A mother is a woman with an added responsibility demanding new actions and reactions.


No one thought that a woman’s mental life could fundamentally change with the arrival of a baby. A woman develops a mindset, which helps each one of us organise our mental lives, and a mindset determines what we consider most important what we are sensitive to and what we notice. What we find pleasant and exciting or frightening or boring. It affects the choices we make and our tendencies to act in one way instead of another. When you have a baby it will determine your feelings and actions, redirect your preferences and pleasures and influence all your previous relationships and redefine your role in your own family’s history.


This mindset does last a whole lifetime but it does not always occupy centre stage. As practical realities of life demand more attention the motherhood mindset will recede. It waits in the wings ready to come forward again whenever needed, such as when your child is sick, in trouble or in danger. When your child needs you, you will react as a mother, no matter how old that child may be.”


Stern, D., Bruschweiler-Stern, N. 1998. The Birth of a Mother, How Motherhood Changes Your Life forever. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.




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