"To live is to change” John Henry Newman
Nothing really stays the same. However, there are a few stages in life where we encounter larger changes, such as becoming a husband or wife, a major career change or the passing of someone close to us.
But if you’re here reading this, it’s likely that you’re about to or already have gone through one of the most momentous life changes of all - that of becoming a mother.
So why is it such a major change? The answer lies within our brains. Studies have shown that the mother’s brain is effectively ‘rewired’ after having a child. I think we can probably all notice that to some degree - for me an obvious indicator was the sound of a child crying.
Before I became a mother it would have either no effect or one of mild annoyance - now (assuming the child isn’t one of mine) it produces an almost subconscious reaction of wanting to reach out and help or comfort.
However, it’s not just the brain becoming more geared towards responding to the needs of the baby. This is one of the very few times in life (other than the first few years or puberty for example) where the brain experiences an increase in neuroplasicity. This gives the brain the means to change and makes it much more open to learning new things.
So thanks to this period of brain change in the transition to motherhood, we’re gifted with this window to really move into the version of ourselves that we really aspire to be. It’s the ideal time to make real and lasting change by adding new, healthy and empowering habits to replace the ones that simply don’t serve us anymore.
But how do we know what these habits and behaviours are? Well, there’s another brain change that happens at the same time - and that’s an increase in production and receptivity of Oxytocin. If you’ve never heard of this amazing hormone, in simple terms it’s the hormone of love and bonding. It gives you that warm, gooey feeling when you look at your newborn baby. It helps you bond with your partner when you’ve had an orgasm. It’s rather awesome.
Certain things will work to trigger the production of Oxytocin within us; another example is cuddling with someone we love. It makes us feel good - and when we’re in that hormone-induced state, we’re more open to the intuitive side of ourselves. From there, it’s what you could call ‘following your bliss’.
Unfortunately, our society isn’t very supportive of this - we’re often expected to get back to how we were; physically, in our job, as a partner/lover…
But not all of us want to get back to how we were. We might experience a sort of loss of the person we were before, whilst becoming excited at the potential of who we now could be.
Unknown even to ourselves, we might find a little support in the fact that we can use these brain changes to our advantage in this unfamiliar territory, and they might just lead us to that version of ourselves that we always promised we’d become one day.