How Motherhood Changes You


From Womanhood to Motherhood

The transformation from womanhood to motherhood is a metamorphosis more profound than any other on earth. Having a child elicits more changes both gradual and sudden than anything else could provoke. A new mother will become stronger and more responsible. The challenge of every day life will make her a better problem solver. She will be more loving and her priorities will change.

Responsibility will change her.

One moment only responsible for herself, a mother is now entirely responsible for another human life. In order to do this she must give up certain aspects of herself permanently and take on others that never could have been without the responsibility and love for this new life. Who once was a selfish woman now puts another above her own desires and schedule. Who once was a careless woman, who lived fast and cared not for her life, is now more careful.

Love will change her.

She is now loved and she now loves like never before. Regardless of how many good relationships she has been in and how much love she has felt for those people, she will find that the love for her baby is stronger than any love she’s ever known. If she has never loved or been loved deeply before, she will experience this for the first time now.

Strength will change her.

The confidence and accomplishment that she experiences after laboring and giving birth changes her perception of herself. She now sees herself as someone who can withstand the impossible. She is a stronger woman than she has ever been before.

Her status will change her.

In her new responsibilities she is forced to re-order her role in her family, in her home, with her old friends. She is the boss of someone now, if she wasn’t before. Her family doesn’t see her as a kid anymore. Her outings will change as will her group of friends likely change. The way she dresses probably started changing in pregnancy. After the birth she may become less concerned with the way she looks as her attention is drawn to her baby. Her activities in free time will also change.

Her worries and attention will change her. 

She cannot let her baby starve, fall, drown, catch a cold, bang its head, suffocate, freeze, or overheat. She is motivated and moved by these worries. They keep her vigilant. She may become obsessive and possessive as a result of these worries. She may become overwhelmed. She may become overprotective. Who was once a shy or reserved woman, may find herself suddenly bold or presumptuous.

Her job will change her. 

She is suddenly a protector and an enabler. It is her job to ensure the safety of her child all day and night and it is also her job to assist the child in becoming what it will some day become. Though she may have never planned it and she might not even put much thought into it now, she will do it everyday of her new life.


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  1. Becoming a mom was indeed transformative! Along with the identity, time management, lack of sleep, etc.etc.etc. came the realization that I had to “weed the garden.” I only have so much energy to go around each day, and at the time there were many people in my life who only took from me, with not much given in return. They were so draining of that precious energy that my son needed from me, that I soon found myself allowing those relationships to wither. Some survived, some grew stronger, but many just withered and died. My life is so much richer, I’m not pulled in every direction with nothing left for my family, and I have some wonderful close friends who are very understanding when I have to drop off the planet for a bit!

  2. I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible but it’s a long story.

    I knew I was in trouble when I approached my gyno about a homebirth and she said the only things that should be delivered at home were pizzas and newspaper.
    So, I left the office and called a bunch of lay midwives. I found Maria, the best in the Bay Area. I sold my piano to pay her out of pocket fee.
    I was 3 weeks late and finally went into labor on Memorial Day. After a grueling 3 days in labor, I was only 4 centimeters dilated so we made the call to go to the hospital. There, we were met with the most offensive team my midwife had even been witness to. They made it plain that I was whack job for trying to birth at home and now I was on their schedule and would do as they said.
    I had a large birth team because I’m single and I wanted my community with me. They were all with me at the hospital and I caught shit for that. I caught shit for wanting a squat bar and a balance ball. Everything that was said to me was dripping with condescension. I hadn’t slept for going on 4 days and got an epidural. After a blessed 3 hours of sleep, my son loosened and I was at 10 centimeters. We asked for the anesthesiologist to come shut off the epidural. They would not call him. We wanted to wait for an hour so I could feel the sensation of pushing. They told me no.
    When they left the room, we shut off the epidural on our own. No one seemed to notice this. I guess because whack jobs don’t warrant that much attention. They kept coming in to remind me that I had 2 hours to get that baby out or it was C section. Nice of them of them, huh?
    Finally, I felt the need to push and got to work. Pushing was fast for me and in a few pushes, my midwife came in close. There were no staff in the room. “Reach down and feel your baby’s hair.” I did. “Jamie. You can push him out in 2 pushes. You will tear. But you will catch your baby.” Everyone barricaded the door. I got to work. I pushed hard. On the second push, the doctor burst through the store and shoved her hands at me to catch my baby. I kicked that doctor so hard she fell. I caught my baby.
    I almost dropped him. Babies are slippery little suckers. My one lucid thought was: you just kicked a doctor to the floor. Do not drop this child.

    I had to fight to keep him by my side. I had to shove prodding hands away from him. I put him to my breast and literally fended off intruders.
    I was in recovery for a few hours when the biggest, blackest nurse I’d ever seen in my life walked in. “So you were going for a homebirth, huh?” So weary of this taunt, I nodded. “Go home. Consider us the clean up team. Your bleeding is fine. These crazy fools will try to make it sound like you are killing your kid. You are not. You go home and you say you had a homebirth. You did good.”

    Maria said every birth plays out your destiny. It was meant to be the way it was. She told me that Pascal and I were fighters and we always would be.

    So, how was I transformed? I used to cower in the face of doctors thinking they knew best. I would ignore my own body in favor of their words. After my birth, I grew a phenomenal inner fortitude. I will fight tooth and nail, to my death for what I know is right for me and my child. And if you get in my way, I know I can kick you right down. To the floor, if I have to.
    I know this because I did.
    Doctors have their place but I also have my own. And I wouldn’t have learned that without my son.

    • Eesh! What a story. Good for you for finding your way in such an environment. Did you ever get a new piano? ;)

      • Not yet. Turns out my bank account was more transformed by having a child than my soul. <3

  3. I thought I never wanted kids. And then I ended up pregnant. It goes without saying that my life has never been the same & while I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I didn’t get pregnant, I wouldn’t trade my new role as a mother for anything in the world.

    I was introduced to the primal lifestyle before my pregnancy by my then boyfriend (now husband) and at first thought it was absolutely ludicrous. After reading more about it & giving it a try, I felt better than I ever had – both physically and mentally. We decided to raise our daughter primally and I’m proud to say she’s a healthy meat & vegetable eating 11 month old.

    I knew about eating healthy but being a mom has opened up my eyes to so much more about health. Sure, our family eats healthy. We eat lots of grass fed meat, local & organic produce, and my daughter nurses on top of eating everything we eat. But I want to make sure our whole bodies are healthy. I’m now aware of what gets into our bodies through vehicles other than food, e.g. skin products, air pollution, detergents, etc.

    While I think I would have eventually come around to caring about what chemicals are in my shampoo, I got on the fast track of being aware of what our family puts in our bodies and making a conscious effort to raise our family in a healthy way. I read labels, I ask questions, I do research & I’m picky about what I bring into our home.

    My love for my daughter & husband has changed me & my priorities. My number one job is to protect them, especially my daughter since she relies on us to make good decisions for her. I know I’m not perfect & I’m learning to accept that I’ve made (and will continue to make) parenting mistakes, but every day I strive to provide the best care for my family & learn more so I can pass that knowledge on to my daughter.

    • I have been a “maybe baby” person for a long time. This blog and my commitment to primal eating has changed this to some extent. When I am living primal, as much as that can be for my very modern lifestyle, emotionally and physically I don’t have to put so much effort into myself. There is space for other things in my life other than me, or how I look. But I do spend a lot of time working, cooking, cleaning, exercising and relaxing. How does a child fit into that? How could a woman miraculously change and, for example, instead of going on a 3 hour bike ride with her buddies, opt to stay home to entertain a toddler? How do you not look back with regret after having a baby and giving up all of your personal freedoms? Is it really just a natural occurrence out of necessity for the wellbeing of the child, or are some better adaptable than others?

      • How could a woman miraculously change and, for example, instead of going on a 3 hour bike ride with her buddies, opt to stay home to entertain a toddler? How do you not look back with regret after having a baby and giving up all of your personal freedoms?

        I used to have so many of those same questions. For me, what changed was that I realized that when you love someone deeply, sacrificing for them isn’t all that painful. E.g. When you’ve fallen in love with a man, skipping an event with friends to spend time with him isn’t a bad thing — you really don’t mind doing it. It’s the same thing with kids. Not that every moment is pure joy, but the bonds that you have with them are so strong and so deep that it changes the way you see everything in your life. :)

      • “instead of going on a 3 hour bike ride with her buddies, opt to stay home to entertain a toddler”
        I don’t entertain my 3.5yo, and I didn’t entertain her as a smaller child either. My job is to keep her loved and safe. She’s got her own life. But yeah, we either have to take those rides separately or with a trailer, or switch them to us strolling while she boots along on her bike.

        “How do you not look back with regret after having a baby and giving up all of your personal freedoms?”
        Not all, but certainly some. Within a very short time after her birth – how do I put this? – it wasn’t that I’d forgotten my life before, or that I don’t miss aspects of it, but I became we and that change was so total that I can’t imagine a life without her. Their presence becomes the fixed point around which your world rotates. You find yourself making decisions in ways your previous self could not have imagined. Sometimes this grates, but they are YOUR decisions and they reflect your new priorities. Probably like the switch to paleo eating, you find out pretty quickly what aspects of self-care are really essential to your well-being and which were just indulgences with a low reward ratio (that whole “I’m worth it” advertising hook is crap. Your hair colour is not a statement of your worth as a human being. Being a parent throws these kinds of realities into sharp relief).

        “are some better adaptable than others?”
        Some are, yes. And that is generally rooted in that person’s belief about their role in the world. If the world exists to please me, then responsibility to others is to be avoided. If I am a “part of the whole and a piece of the main” then it is not such a leap to add another link in the chain of humanity that depends on me.

        I’d say that breastfeeding is the ultimate example and test of the transition to motherhood. You give up sleep, personal autonomy and privacy, sometimes dietary preferences, go against all you’d ever learned about ‘private parts’ and start running your life around the schedule of a person with a stomach the size of their own fist who consumes only rapidly-digested milk. (That’s not to say that you’re bound to a chair every 2-3 hours for the first 6 months – *provided* you can get over the BF in public thing!) Breasts that have never nursed are biologically immature. Similarly, adults who have not parented have not completed that metamorphosis. Parenting is not about gestating and birthing, it is the attitude and actions of every day after deciding to take responsibility for another being.

        The changes of parenthood are many but shifting. What remains is the sense of being less often the bird and more often the tree – the solid base for the next generation to spring from. This also changes your perception of those who shaded you from the burning sun. You are not only an individual, you are a generation, and your relationship to those before and after is made manifest in the behaviours you witness in yourself as a parent. Timeframes stretch to the horizon instead of the end of the season. The personal is the political and it’s not just in feminism, it’s epigenetics, food policy, the meaning of discipline and education in society. If you’re going to be a tree, then forest management becomes important.

        Parenting is theory becoming praxis.

      • I always assumed “someday” I’d have kids and decided I would never try to on purpose. It happened, and I’m now pregnant with my second. I worried too about being too selfish and giving up my lifestyle, but have found that it’s that exact selfishness that lets you be a great caretaker for your child, because its just an extension of yourself, another part of YOU (not some person that you don’t know). You’ll selfishly turn down your friends and your hobbies for your child because its you. Sure, there will be events & things that make you say “Oh man, wish I could.” But you won’t sacrifice more time away from your child for it (especially if you work full-time). Also, once you realize just how fast time goes now (shortly after the first birthday for me), its easier to swallow the responsibilities because you realize its not forever and is all happening so fast. That so-dependent baby gets less & less dependent every day and will one day be an adult like you & I. Not that your duties are EVER over as a parent but you will get your freedom back. Then I have a feeling you’ll have different hobbies anyway. All in all, its just a different world with children that you’ll never know about til you’re in it. But don’t worry about being selfish. If you’re selfish now, then you care about yourself & will care even more about the pure, honest being your own body creates.

        • Sarah, thank you for that insight! I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact, I really hadn’t thought of it that way myself. :) I have always been the selfish type – very busy and into so many different things. When Evelyn was born I didn’t resent losing my old life. She was, as you say, me, a part of me, and seeing to it that she grew up into an amazing human being was (and is) just as important to me as anything I’d ever done for myself, because she is myself.

          This is going in the book for sure:
          “I worried too about being too selfish and giving up my lifestyle, but have found that it’s that exact selfishness that lets you be a great caretaker for your child, because its just an extension of yourself, another part of YOU (not some person that you don’t know). You’ll selfishly turn down your friends and your hobbies for your child because its you.”

  4. Three C-sections later, I am pretty sure I suck at having babies, but I have learned so much and I fully believe that the most important part of parenting is constantly learning and discovering. I have never had so much motivation as I do after three babies. My first pregnancy was textbook maternity care in the US – Reflux? here is a class C acid inhibitor. Sciatica? Here is a referral for physical therapy. Morning sickness? Edema? well that’s just pregnancy so too bad. I ended up with a raging kidney infection at 35 weeks, preterm delivery just shy of 37 weeks then a uterine infection that nearly killed me. Thank you modern Obstetrics.

    For number 2, I hired a DEM midwife. I was having an HBAC and having a healthy pregnancy. She managed my morning sickness naturally and had me swimming at least twice a week to combat the sciatica and Edema (it worked!) Mostly, she introduced me to the Brewer diet. It is a low carb diet for pregnant women, developed in the 1950’s. It allows for a small amount of grains, but encourages you get all of your carbs from fruits. I felt soooo much better this time around and my reflux was easily managed with bromelaine. Sadly, my lovely daughter is a stubborn little monster. She turned footling breech at 33 weeks and tore the water sack at 34 weeks. I spent a week in the hospital until labor started and consented to another c-section.

    Fast forward a year and my husband stumbles across Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. I had been trying to encourage my husband to adopt the Brewer diet, but he couldn’t fathom being on a “pregnancy diet”. Calling it “primal” made it acceptable. I lost all of my pregnancy weight with ease and had never felt better when we really buckled down on cutting out grains. I became pregnant for the 3rd time and once again sought a natural, hands off pregnancy. My OB was indulgent with me despite my high risk status due to preterm deliveries. My midwife recommended high doses of vitamin C to prevent a premature rupture of membranes and continue my primal diet. I also saw a chiro to prevent another breech presentation. This has been my best, healthiest pregnancy and I made it to 41 weeks! Sadly, after 3 days of labor at home, I threw in the towel and had a third c-section, but now that I have this pregnancy thing down, maybe my 4th baby will be the home birth I so desire.

    Being a mother is the epitome of evolution. I have evolved from a self centered, career driven globe trotter into a woman who derives her joy from watching her children discover all the fascinating nuances of the world around them. I went from managing hundreds of users and computers to managing 2 little monkeys and one flying Wallenda and I have never been happier. The admiration and approval (hugs and kisses)of toddlers is so much more gratifying than any glowing professional review I have received. I would sacrifice anything for my children – even toast.

  5. It sounds cliche, but having a child made me really and truly want to be a better person… for my daughter. For one thing, I’m all she has; I’m her person, her mama. However good or bad at mothering I can be is what she gets, and I want it to be GOOD! For another, when she started imitating me, I realized that I’m teaching her with my actions how to be. It has made living well more of a priority because I see how she internalizes everything she sees me do and copies it. If she were to see me eating oreos and doritos all day long, that is what she would want to do too. I think about the behavior I want to model for her.

    For the commenter above asking how you can give up things you love to entertain a toddler… Motherhood completely changes your priorities. I’m not saying you won’t still love bike rides, but you may find you are more interested in being with your baby than anything else, at least at first. Then as time goes on and the baby becomes more independent, you start to branch out more, doing things you used to do, but perhaps in different ways and often finding ways to incorporate your little one. You might, as I do sometimes, mourn your old life at times, but this is a new season of life and it’s not forever either. Soon your children will be in school, off in the world having their own lives and adventures, and eventually adults who can have adventures with you. That said, if you are unsure, I would advise waiting to have a baby because it really, really changes your WHOLE WORLD. Nothing is the same and the baby never goes away, they are there in your life forever more! But motherhood is wonderful and I recommend it to everyone :)

  6. Peggy Emch’s article here is excellent and a wonderful basis for a book. I agree very much with the changes she describes, I changed forever. It is also v. well written.

    I was particularly struck by “She cannot let her baby starve, fall, drown, catch a cold, bang its head, suffocate, freeze, or overheat. She is motivated and moved by these worries. They keep her vigilant”.

    One thing though. There is a strange paradox. She both becomes stronger and more vulnerable (at least whilst her child is young). I was also amazed to the psychological aspects of the mother-baby bond kick in. I remember feeling a very strange possessiveness when a friend held my new-born baby for longer than was necessary! I remember an increased spirituality when my child was younger. I also experienced to love and be loved for the first time, a transformative experience in and of itself. Good luck with your book.

  7. I’m loving your site! I’m about to embark on the journey of motherhood, so I can’t comment for your book (yet!). But I did want to mention a grammar error, just in case it was more than a one-time typo. Your title, Primal Mom’s Look Good Naked, should NOT include an apostrophe! It should be Primal Moms Look Good Naked. :) Would hate for you to find that out after publishing!

    So great to hear stories of other women who never dreamed of being a mother and yet have been positively transformed by the experience. I’m hoping it will be a way for me to more fully understand God and humankind, to be forced to grow into an even more capable, generous, and loving individual. But it seems like it’s something you can only understand once you’ve done it, so I’ll just have to take a leap of faith!

    • That’s funny Mara. Mistakes happen to the best of us. Thankfully my grammar is pretty excellent and so is the grammar of the editors so a mistake like that wouldn’t make it far. However, when you’re writing posts at 12am… :P

      Thanks for reading Mara!

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