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Motherhood: A Time of Change

In my pregnancy and the birth of my child represents a time of change, in identity and role, as well as physiology. It is also a time of emotional change which for some women may be experienced as a substantial upheaval and for others as more of a change The birth experience, associated interventions and the new baby itself are similarly markers of further transitions and drivers for yet more change and adjustment.

Becoming a parent for me is hugely enjoyable and a reason for pride, despite the routine needs of infant and childcare.

While women react in different ways, some become anxious or depressed and some are both anxious and depressed, although the majority are neither of these things. However, mood changes are common and are likely to have a variable time course. Pre-existing mental health problems are associated with their continuing or re-occurrence during pregnancy and postpartum. For some women there is also a marked change in physical health and well-being, with somatic and other health symptoms more commonly occurring in different age groups.

In my opinion motherhood is valued in any society impacts on how women see themselves and how others react to them. In many societies motherhood is seen as an essential and natural development and is associated with identity as an adult.

For women who do have children, apart from the psychosocial issues fundamental to taking on this new role, changes in the couple relationship and the pleasures and frustrations of being a new mother, there are other issues arising from the way that the work of childrearing is perceived, the need for income arising from paid work and the changes in status and career development possibilities that are associated with having and caring for young children.

It would be very unadaptive if women having their first babies somehow, through their own resources and with the help of family and other social support, did not manage to cope during pregnancy and following the birth of their first baby. ‘Bonding’ is not the instant process that many new mothers worry about; rather, there is evidence that it involves a process of mutual adjustment and learning for both partners that takes place over time, with considerable variation in the way that mothers become attached to their infants and later infants to their mothers.

Written By: Dawn Jansen, Doctoral Mom Incorporated, Intern

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