We often hear the phrase “trust your instincts” but life as a new mother can be a puzzling time for knowing what impulse, gut feeling or knowledge is or is not coming from within. Life with a newborn is wonderful and equally daunting. The learning curve can feel more like a hair trigger jump directly upwards instead of a nice sloping curve. No matter how many books you read, classes you take or parents you talk to, becoming a mother in real time is a whole new ball game.
Up until that time when we walk through the portal from maiden to mother, everything is theoretical. With most topics concerning motherhood, it is layered and often paradoxical. So asking the question “how do we trust our instincts?” is not an easy answer that applies to all. We need to look at the time before we gave birth. Did you trust yourself? Did you grow up trusting others? All of our behaviors surrounding trust can be triggered as we become mothers. It can feel isolating and destabilizing as we charter unknown territory. Some of us may not trust others with our baby, some of us may not trust ourselves with our baby and for most of us it’s probably a good mix of both.
I think the most important aspects of learning how to trust your instincts more, are patience and a deep sense of Self. If you have had a practice of getting to know yourself – such as meditation, yoga, therapy, spiritual practice, etc. you are already versed in self-knowledge. If you haven’t, don’t worry you are not alone and it’s never too late. I am a huge proponent of meditation because I feel that we all are living very busy lives with a lot of noise around us. And if we are constantly inundated with outside information, it makes sense that we wouldn’t hear our inner voice or guidance.
So my number one go to advice for trusting your instincts is meditation. Everyday, no matter if it’s 3 minutes or 1 hour, if you can get quiet and truly go within, you will become allies with yourself as never before. And with this deep friendship, you will learn when your gut reaction or instinct is coming from a deep knowing within or from fear/anxiety. During the first 40 days after giving birth, it is a wonderful time to rest, heal, eat well and sleep as well as a perfect time to meditate. During this sacred time of healing, babies sleep quite a lot of the day. The more that you can stay in bed with baby, snuggling skin to skin and meditating together, the better. I love to play mantras on low volume or do guided meditations with headphones on. This simple yet effective practice helps to nurture and nourish your nervous system as well as provide the body with an even deeper rest time than sleep. And as we all now, new mothers suffer from a lack of sleep. So getting in at least one meditation time per day is a massive healing tool. Lower your expectations. If you can only get in three minutes one day, great. If you skip a day, no problem. Use meditation as medicine not as yet one more thing “to do.”
When we become mothers, we not only have an entirely new role and physical landscape but we also have this incredible connection with our baby. This is nature in her purest form. I do believe that the instincts a mother has for her child are sacred and should be trusted. I do know that often times our society wants to encourage us to look outside of ourselves for the answers. To ask the “experts”, the Dr’s, the doulas, the Ph. D’s. But the bravest thing a mother can do is to educate herself, love herself, trust her deep knowing and forgive herself when needed. We all make mistakes. It is a part of motherhood for sure. We can only learn as we go. But to know yourself, to know your baby, to trust this inner knowing, is everything.
Above all, be gentle with yourself. Bringing a baby Earthside is no small feat. Bless yourself. Honor your journey. And rest in knowing that you are already the perfect mother for your baby. They chose you for a reason.