Having lived a bit more than a half a century now, I find that one of my favorite words is “seasons.” Maybe because I’m a die-hard Pete Seeger fan and love the way he took words from Ecclesiastes and turned them into a catchy song, most notably made famous by The Byrd’s Turn, Turn, Turn. “There is a season and a time to every purpose ….”
What is the season of motherhood? When does it begin? How long does it last? What is its purpose?
Just as each woman conceives, carries, and bears her child in her own unique way, each woman becomes a mother in her own unique way. Some women feel that motherly instinct the moment they receive confirmation they are pregnant. For some, it slowly develops over the nine months of pregnancy, surfacing forcefully upon first site of their newborn. For others, it takes some time after the baby is born to become fully conscious of her new season of motherhood.
Research shows that there is an increase in brain activity in a woman’s amygdala when she becomes a mother. (Zeki, 2003) This activity results in a higher response of love, protection, and tenderness when a new mother is shown a picture of her baby. Through this heightened activity, a mother acquires the ability to discern the different cries of her baby, whether they are in need of something specific or just a little extra snuggle.
There is also known to be a hormonal shift in women as they enter motherhood. (Eyal Abrahama, 2014) The same oxytocin hormone which works to initiate and keep labor going helps the mother bond with her new baby after birth. As with any relationship, spending time together, feeding, caressing, and bathing releases more oxytocin which can solidify the loving bond between mother and child.
This combination of brain development and hormonal changes may be called the season of motherhood.
It begins at a different time for each woman and it lasts forever. Its purpose is for a mother to love, protect and nurture her child into the next season of her life – – the wonderful season of Grand-mother.
As a childbirth educator, I feel part of my responsibility is to help women transition into this next, amazing season of their lives. I give them the nuts and bolts on labor and delivery, birth options, breathing techniques, and medication choices if they so desire. I can help prepare them for the physical changes which take place in motherhood, as well as the emotional ones. Not all women find this change of seasons easy or pleasant at first. Hopefully in a childbirth preparation class I can help calm some fears and clear up misunderstandings. I can let them know that there is no one manual on becoming a mother, because there is no single perfect mother model or perfect child model. Each woman needs to bring her own strengths into motherhood.
Above all, as a childbirth educator, I endeavor to give new moms the confidence they need, to laugh, to weep, to build up, to break down, to cast stones, to gather stones and to dance their way through the season of motherhood. They need to be reminded: “there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Seeger, 1965)
By Melanie Kitchens, CCCE, CLD
Copyright CAPPA 2016