If motherhood made you feel like a different person, it’s because you are—in some great ways

When you dismiss the goal of “perfection,” everyone is happier—and life is, perhaps, a bit more perfect, after all.

If motherhood made you feel like a different person, it’s because you are—in some great ways
Photo by Lifei Ruiz

As the saying goes, “When a child is born, so is a mother.” And has anything even been more true? From that single moment onward, your identity shifts in about a million ways. Many changes will make you feel like a rockstar. (Who knew you had a superpower for changing diapers one-handed?!) Other changes will cause you doubt.

Feeling like a new person after becoming a mom isn’t just natural—but is something that should be embraced.

In a newly published story in The New York Times, Alexandra Sacks, M.D., says that opening up the dialogue with women about the emotional changes brought on by motherhood benefits her and the child. “When people have more insight into their emotions, they can be more in control of their behaviors,” she says. “So even when the focus remains on the child, understanding the psychology of pregnant and postpartum women can help promote healthier parenting.”


Specifically, Sacks notes four major ways in which mama may feel like her world has been turned upside-down—for better or worse.

1. Your duo is now a trio

Adding a new baby to the mix will unlock a whole new set of emotions toward your partner: In some moments, you may feel like it isn’t possible to love him more. In other moments, you may wonder why he thinks it’s ok to feed a baby spicy salsa. Through it all, your partnership has taken on a whole new level of importance.

Just be sure to keep the dialogue open—because even though life may now be a bit different, that doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer.

The silver lining: If communication skills and patience have never been your strongest traits, now is the time to strengthen them!

2. It’s natural to feel the need for your own space

As Sacks says, “Ambivalence is a feeling that comes up in the roles and relationships a person is most invested in, because they’re always a juggling act between giving and taking." And when it comes to motherhood, that can mean desperately wanting an hour of quiet peace—and then spending it aww-ing over the million pictures of your little on stored on your phone.

The silver lining: With a baby in the mix, self-care suddenly becomes a much more intentional action. So, take this opportunity to consider what hobbies are truly valuable uses of your time.

3. Accept your baby for who she is—and yourself for who you are

By the time most of us become mothers, we’ve spent years dreaming about our future family and determining what type of parents we will be. Then baby is born and you can feel thrown for a loop, either because of a child’s disabilities, external life struggles or even simply the this is real-ness that sinks in. It’s more than understandable that this can feel both disappointing and heartbreaking. But then you adjust and realize, yes, you’ve got this, too.

The silver lining: When you begin giving grace to yourself, you’ll find it positively affects all relationships.

4. Know that your child doesn’t need a perfect mother—they just need you

Whether it’s on the first day of your child’s life or a week down the line (because it probably won’t be any longer than that), we all realize at some point that we aren’t perfect parents. And, of course, we really wanted to be! But instead of letting shame take hold, Sacks says aiming to mother “good enough” isn’t about settling, but rather about accepting your humanity and allowing guilt to slide away.

The silver lining: When you dismiss the goal of “perfection,” everyone is happier—and life is, perhaps, a bit more perfect, after all.

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    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

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    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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