Looking back, it seems inevitable to go through a bit of an identity crisis after having a baby. And in talking to other moms I’ve realized that almost every new mom has gone through it. Whether it hits after a few days, a few months or even a few years after becoming a mom, there’s no doubt about it: Motherhood causes a major shift in identity.

For example, before baby, you were convinced you would be back to work after six weeks of leave and resume your blossoming, busy career. But after baby, you find yourself CEO of your own household, and the thought of going back to work full-time makes your lungs close up with dread.


Or you wake up each morning utterly perplexed on how to dress for the day. Are you now destined to forever wear loose-fitting clothes that hide your stubborn post-baby belly? How much time should you spend on your hair and makeup versus precious morning time with your little one?

When it comes to defining who you are, does it always have to go “mom” first then “partner” then “friend” or “sister” or “woman”?

New moms constantly express priority changes, which are good and completely expected. However, these changes can cause different areas of your life to feel unbalanced. When at one time you were completely focused on your genius startup or curating the perfect capsule wardrobe or spending quality time with friends and family, you now find yourself balancing time with your kids, time with your partner and the household budget.

This shift can leave you feeling lost + questioning who you are now.

Here are 5 tips to help you navigate the inevitable identity crisis so you can emerge a stronger, more focused version of your best self.

1. Embrace the change.

First things first: Don’t fight the change.

So what if you were absolutely, totally, without a doubt going back to work after maternity leave but you are now a stay-at-home mom?

Accepting that life changes constantly is paramount to moving toward the new you.

What once seemed like a good idea might not fit into what is best for you and your family now—and that’s okay. Look at the change as an exciting opportunity. You get to take a step back and really look at who you want to become in this next phase of life.

2. Be determined, but don’t be stubborn.

It’s easy to feel stubborn about your life path. You had a concrete idea of what you wanted your life to look like, but now that path has led you in a completely different direction. If there is something that having a new baby teaches us, it’s that flexibility makes everything easier.

This is the time to be open to all new possibilities.

3. Focus on one area at a time.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to “find” the new you all at once.

So many areas of life are affected when a baby enters the picture—inner and outer confidence, relationships with partners, family and friends, career goals and your personal style. Trying to tackle everything at once will be both frustrating and ineffective. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Attack the area that seems to be taking up the most mind space first.

If you are constantly thinking about getting back into shape, create a nutrition and workout plan to help get you where want to be. Only once you feel comfortable you are doing all you can in that area is it okay to move onto the next.

4. Accept the new you.

Don’t think of getting through an identity crisis as trying to rediscover the old you.

That you is gone.

She disappeared as soon as you held your little one in your arms for the first time.

Think of this time as a redefining moment. Who do you want to be moving forward?

You have now obtained a new label—capital “M” Mom. Using this as a jump start, take the time to sort out what feels uncomfortable. Do you have friendships that no longer make sense in your new life? Do you need to learn a new tool for communicating with your partner? Does your inner swag feel more swag-less? Don’t waste energy mourning these changes. Instead, use them to fuel your journey forward.

5. Understand everyone goes through it.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the Instagram and Pinterest lifestyle.

People on social networks really look like they have all their ducks in a row, don’t they?

Trust me—they don’t.

That perfect-looking mom who seems to “have it all” struggled with identity just as much as the next mom. When a change as big as having a baby happens, no one is immune to personal upheaval. It all comes down to handling those changes with introspection, dedication and grace.

They’ve gone through it.

But you’ve got this.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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