Depletion, anxiety & overwhelm are a common experience for today’s pregnant & new mothers. For generations women have been taught to ignore the wisdom within their bodies, to push through, to keep going, to keep striving – during early mothering, in complete opposition to what we’re biologically designed to need.
It’s a story of perpetual doing.
And, it needs to change.
Pregnancy, labour & birth, postpartum, breastfeeding & mothering all inherently contain uncertainty & unpredictability. For already buzzing & depleted nervous systems, this means further triggering of the stress response. And when left unattended amplifies all variations of worry, anxiety, overwhelm & fear.
In an attempt to create calm, our clever minds focus on collecting information through research & classes. To create a feeling of being in control, we channel all of that learning into planning – birth plans, postpartum plans, infant feeding plans…
Ultimately though, all of the doing – all of the efforting – to establish certainty & predictability through learning & planning, doesn’t remove them from the transition to motherhood. And, when things don’t go as we’ve hoped or planned & we’re without sufficient (emotional) support, the worry, anxiety & fear are magnified & often accompanied by grief, sadness, shame, depression &/or anger.
From a physiological perspective, this transition involves hormones that function optimally when a mother is feeling safe & calm.
The chronic stress inherent in our lives, how our culture teaches us to approach mothering (whether we’re conscious of it or not) & the lack of deep, empathic, nurturing support we need from a community of people, impacts hormone balance, health & wellbeing.
Impact of a chronic stress response in motherhood.
chronic stress can contribute to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, increased frequency of colds &/or premature labour.
In labour & birth…
it contributes to the slowing of the process & increases risk of medical interventions.
it increases likelihood of sleep challenges & postpartum mood disorders.
it may impact milk supply & contribute to feeding challenges, including infants who are unsettled, constantly feeding &/or frustrated at breast.
it contributes to overall depletion, exhaustion, overwhelm, mood changes, immune depletion & digestive changes.
What is Mothering Resilience?
Resilience simply defined is the ability to respond & adapt to the events of life. It’s our ability to stay up when life tries to knock us down & when knocked down allows us to efficiently & fully recover.
Mothering resilience is…
…feeling grounded & centered, connected with the Earth & with Inner Wisdom & able to respond & adapt to the unexpected, unpredictable & uncertain.
…feeling nourished by nutrition, breath, rest, movement & Nature – supporting strength, energy & vitality to be fully engaged with the experiences of life.
…understanding & embodying the experience of a regulated nervous system with the capacity to experience deep calm & relaxation & to healthfully respond to all life brings – the joyous & the challenging.
…being connected with, supported by & cared for within a diverse & inclusive community – a community that holds & nurtures you, so you can continue holding & nurturing your family in your most aligned way.
Cultivating mothering resilience does not…
…prevent the unplanned/unexpected
…create certainty & predictability in our external circumstances or experiences
…or prevent us from experiencing challenging emotions
…supports us in experiencing more steadiness & calm
…resources us to be with what’s challenging & feel fully supported
…& ensures we recover more fully & efficiently when the unexpected knocks us down.
When we cultivate our mothering resilience, it doesn’t mean the storms of life won’t blow through, but we’ll have what we need to respond & adapt, with more calm, confidence & energy.
What prevents women from cultivating mothering resilience?
Before we were born, we were encoded with the instructions, the stories that our culture created about how good mothers approach their role:
- Stay in your head. Figure it out. Everything you need to know is outside of you. Keep searching.
- Perpetually give. Never rest. Put everyone you care for ahead of yourself.
- Live in individual households, separate from extended family.
- Be independent. Do it all yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else, except your partner (if you have one!). Feel guilt & shame when you ask for help.
- Keep striving to be a good mother, a good partner, a good daughter, a good woman. (And guess who defined what ‘good’ means? That same cultural programming. And it’s an impossible goal to attain – every time we get close the standards change.)
How do we know our mothering resilience needs to be nourished?
Remember that depletion, anxiety & overwhelm mentioned above? Those are all signs, along with experiences of:
- Always being in your head, trying to figure things out
- Uncertainty & unpredictability making things worse
- Touched out
- Craving more nourishing support & connection – feeling disconnected/alone, even when you have support
- Frustration, anger (often towards those we love most, triggering shame & thoughts of “I shouldn’t feel this way”)
- Difficulty slowing down, resting, sleeping well
How do we cultivate mothering resilience?
Nature has the wisdom to guide us back to ourselves & to cultivate resilience, allowing us to experience more calm, connection, energy & community.
Nature shows us that trees are more resilient (especially in stormy weather) when they…
- are rooted more deeply & widely in the Earth
- take in nutrients from their environment through sunlight, air, water & Earth, improving their health & strength
- have trunks & branches that show flexibility & responsiveness
- are in groups that are diverse in age & species
- are regularly tended to
We cultivate mothering resilience…
…with grounding practices that support our connection with the Earth & our Inner Wisdom – the most accurate guide on our mothering journeys
…by nurturing our bodies through time in Nature, breath, hydration, nutrition & movement
…with practices that support the capacity & regulation of the nervous system, enhancing calm & healthy responsiveness to life
…by gathering & supporting one another in diverse & inclusive communities
…by being cared for & tended to, in community.