“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about mothers – strong, competent, capable, mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” – Barbara Katz Rothman
The process of carrying a baby in the womb and eventually giving birth is one that is transformative for women. It’s not only about you bringing new life into the world; it is also about your process of change.
Many say that labour and giving birth is a rite of passage as it marks an important stage in one’s life. A woman undergoes a transformation in more ways than one, and it’s important for every new mother to acknowledge this. Understanding the process will empower you. You will realise that you’re not simply leaving your old identity behind. You are growing.
Birth as a Rite of Passage
A rite of passage has three phases. What you go through during pregnancy, labour, and childbirth encompasses these phases.
The first phase is the separation phase. When you’re in your late pregnancy and early labour, you may feel like you need to change some aspects of your life to prepare for a life of motherhood. You are getting ready for the transition. More often, you want alone time to reflect and address the different feelings you have like anticipation, anxiety, fear, and excitement.
Embrace this phase by asking yourself these questions:
- What aspects of myself should I let go to welcome this new journey?
- How do I feel about this separation? Why do I feel that way? How should I work on these feelings?
- How can I prepare better?
The transition phase is a very important one as you will be moving from one identity to another. While you will not completely let go of your old self, you know you won’t be the same. At the same time, you have not fully emerged as a new woman, yet you’re on your way.
For many, the transition phase is a challenging one. It’s the phase where women experience overwhelming emotions. It can also make you feel either more isolated or more connected. The physical change you went through is remarkable, and it will be good to reflect on that experience to realise your accomplishment. This is how you will emerge into your new identity and accept this new journey in your life with enthusiasm.
How can you prepare for the transition?
- How do you view control? Are you willing to surrender and let life take its course?
- How can I welcome this change and deal with any apprehensions or lingering fears?
- What are my core beliefs in life? How can I apply those in the current situation?
As you become a new mother, you will establish new daily routines revolving around the baby. It can take a while to adjust, and that’s okay. You may still feel anxious during this time, and it’s important to get support from the people around you as well as fellow mothers.
The incorporation phase is where you are honoured for your accomplishment of giving birth and becoming a new mom. Your role in society has now changed, and you should be welcomed with open arms and love. Without such support, you can feel isolated and lost.
Know what you need by asking these questions:
- What do I need to do to incorporate the experience I just went through?
- What kind of support do I need at this time?
- How can I celebrate this experience with other women?
- What are the challenges ahead? How will I deal with them?
Every rite of passage is considered monumental in one’s life. Enjoy the new experience and welcome this journey. Acknowledge the transformation and embrace it. Show gratitude and appreciation to yourself, the process, the people who support you, and the gift you received. Give yourself empathy and compassion if things don’t always go as planned. Motherhood is not about being the perfect mom; it’s about enjoying the ride with your little ones.