Childbirth will change your life. That is for certain. You have a newborn to take care of now. But a new baby is not the only big change that childbirth brings. Did you know that birth also changes the mother's brain structure?
(For the Italian version of this article, click here.)
I first knew I was pregnant with my second baby when my ankles started to feel wobbly. I recognized the slightly uncomfortable yet exciting feeling of my body becoming more elastic, less stable.. mushy, you could say.
I knew that I was getting ready to make space for a growing life.
What I didn't know at the time was that my brain was getting mushy, too. It was getting ready to go under massive construction in order for me to become the loving mother that a baby needs. The brain's grey matter, the pinkish grey material involved in memory and language, was growing. Oxytocin, the love hormone which promotes bonding, was increasing in my brain and bloodstream. My ankles were mushy and my brain was mushy. I was getting ready to be totally remodelled and rewired. My whole perspective of the world was about to shift.
So if you are feeling like you are seeing the world through a slightly different colored lens after giving birth, you are, and you are not alone.
The great news about your brain being transformed by childbirth is that you can totally reinvent yourself. You can become better. Remember, though, that you will need love and support. Your brain is mushy. It's sensitive in it's new role. Before those neural pathways can settle into place, your life lens might be a bit cloudy. Try to avoid people who seem to cloud it up more.
Childbirth and new motherhood is also a powerful time for healing emotional pain. For example, victims of abuse who may suffer from low self-esteem or a sense of loss of control over their bodies or lives, can take back control if they are supported during this highly sensitive time. One mother tells her story:
"As my baby pressed into the walls of my being, pressing impossibly wider with every push, the old story seemed to be forced right out with him. There was no room for the story of a small, voiceless victim. A new story was being written, cell by glorious cell." -Katie Wise
You can read her whole story here.
We hear a lot about how baby's brains are malleable. They are learning everything for the first time. They are the world's best scientists because they are on a mission to constantly test out the workings of their social and physical environment. We must handle these new people with the utmost care.
But don't forget mom. She's new, too. She's on the same road as her baby. Together, their mushy brains grow and develop. Welcome to the world baby, and welcome to the world mom.