Dealing with Conscious & Unconscious Beliefs of Motherhood

Photography:Alexa Doula Photography

By Belinda Haan

When we enter motherhood, we can bring a lot of conscious and unconscious beliefs, fantasies and stories about what motherhood will be like, and who we will be (and not be!) as a mother. ⠀ 

These can then drive our behaviour. ⠀  

For example, if we have a rule that every meal the baby eats has to be organic, diverse and made from scratch – we can burn ourselves through striving to achieve this rule. And, if we give the baby a pouch, we can make ourselves wrong. We either put a lot of effort in to meet the rule or beat ourselves up about it if we don’t achieve the rule. ⠀ 

An important step in creating more ease is to become aware of the various beliefs, storylines and rules we may have about motherhood. ⠀ 

Here are some stories and beliefs that we can come into motherhood with. Do you recognise any?⠀  

  • Motherhood is meant to be hard, therefore I can’t make it better.⠀ 
  • Motherhood is meant to be easy, and if it isn’t, then I am doing something wrong.
  • A contented, easy, happy baby happens because of the mother being relaxed, confident and grounded.⠀
  • If something doesn’t work, it is because I am not doing it right.⠀ 
  • I just need to learn more/do more/be more and THEN I will be contented and confident.
  • A ‘good’ mother doesn’t feel anger, despair, sadness or resentment. She enjoys every minute.⠀
  • A ‘good’ mother cooks nutritionally dense, organic food from scratch. ⠀
  • I can’t feel good without a tidy, clean house.⠀
  • I can’t have a good day if the baby and I haven’t slept.⠀ 
  • If the baby is experiencing difficulty, it is something I am doing wrong.⠀ 

One of the strategies we can engage to work with these beliefs is simply noticing and naming – “Oh here’s the selfless mother storyline again!” – this creates some distance to notice but not be taken in by the story. We can’t necessarily get rid of these beliefs, but we can notice them for what they are and unhook from them.⠀ 

This is an excerpt from the Motherhood Gathering online program that supports virtual and face-to-face gatherings. This program has a lot of practical and science-backed strategies and knowledge to support the first 12-months of motherhood (and beyond!). 

Belinda Haan is a writer, advocate, and facilitator focused on re-writing the motherhood experience. She uniquely blends the best of psychology and heart to support women in their transition into motherhood. She is the founder of The Motherhood Gathering, which provides a loving container for women as they navigate the joy and full catastrophe of early motherhood. You can follow Belinda on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn. 

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