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23 May

How to keep your personal identity when becoming a new mum

Written by Sian McGrowder

Image by @kristennoelcrawley

We’ve all seen it happen. Your friend who just had a baby or someone you follow on the gram has just had a baby and just like that; in a blink of an eye, all their content has now changed. Suddenly, it’s all about what their kid is doing or not doing, how much time they no longer have, and reasons why their hair is still in a bun a.k.a mum life.


Well, she was me and I was her. I won’t lie to you, it took a good 10 months for the penny to drop for me and figure out that I’m still that girl. Hopefully, after reading this it won’t take you as long.

Help yourself in those early days
Childbirth is eventful, to say the least, and if that wasn’t enough you are literally thrown headfirst into Motherhood. I still cannot believe that there isn’t an instruction manual for this … surely that should be a thing? I refer to the newborn stage as survival mode. I was running on empty doing my best to keep this little human of mine alive and as for myself, I was straight surviving. In the early days it was easy to be on autopilot, I know I was for a bit. You won’t be leaving the house as much as you might be used to, so I’d suggest finding something you can enjoy indoors.


For me that was food! I absolutely took advantage of the extra calories I was burning by breastfeeding. I think I sampled and developed an addiction to basically every appetizer and snack in Marks & Spencer. That was my thing at the time, I would pretty much have myself a mini picnic or charcuterie board daily (cheddar wrapped in chorizo, candy floss grapes, cookies… chefs kiss). It may sound small, but it made a difference. It was something that was mine … not the baby’s, not my husband’s, not any guests that came to visit the baby but my small piece of enjoyment.
Top tip: Find something YOU can enjoy whilst at home.

The transition
You and your baby are now well-acquainted, you get each other, you’re vibing, life is starting to make sense…well kind of. What they don’t tell you is that mother nature isn’t quite done yet. That post-partum hair loss doesn’t happen straight away. That thing will sneak up on you a few months later. Basically, when you think you’ve made it out of the woods and you’ve let your guard down. I thought I would do a Beyonce (post-Blue Ivy) and get the small knotless braids that I could tie up in a bun and keep them in for a couple of months. I remember taking out my braids and crying that my edges had gone. Fear not though sis, with some TLC they will grow back. At the time though, I was extremely distraught. Between my hair and the new kangaroo pouch, I was not feeling the girl in the mirror.


Funnily enough, I think this period of life may have been a blessing in disguise for me. I had been neglecting myself in a major way and if it wasn’t for the post-partum hair loss, I don’t know when I would have noticed. Your girl was looking dusty. It was the wake-up call I needed to propel me into a much-needed self-care routine. The outside counts just as much as what’s on the inside. I had a few “Mel made me do it” moments during this time and bought myself the Dyson Corrale, some Afrocentrix oils for my hair, and some Sanctuary products to give my skin the glow I’d been missing since pregnancy. I kid you not, as soon as I ran those straighteners through my hair, I started to feel like myself again. When I say, ‘as soon as’ I don’t mean once I was finished and saw the result, I mean the process of getting ‘ready’. It was something I didn’t know how much I needed. Because I wasn’t leaving the house as much, I could barely differentiate between weekdays and weekends. I was living in pj’s and life was getting repetitive. It may sound pathetic but once I started getting dressed for the day, my mood automatically lifted. If there’s one thing you feel like doing when you know you’re looking good, it’s running an unnecessary errand. This was the start of me regaining my identity and feeling like myself.
Top Tip: Low-tension hairstyles, keep up the post-partum vitamins, good natural hair oil for your edges, a satin or silk pillowcase to help retain moisture, prevent frizz and breakage, and some cute loungewear. GET READY sis, even if you aren’t going anywhere because once you are ready; you’re going to find somewhere to go.

Two things can be true
Yes, I am a mother but I’m still that girl! As I said, it took a good 10 months for me to recall who I was pre-baby. Of course, it goes without saying; you will never be exactly who you were before kids. Firstly, that’s impossible and secondly, that isn’t the goal. The goal is to not lose who you were but to add another string to your bow instead.


Motherhood is a miracle that I absolutely do not take for granted. Every day I learn something new about myself, about my child, and about the journey. I created an Instagram page to share my truths, tips, and special moments and connect with other mums. This really helped me stay sane as a new mum, especially as I was one of the first of my friends to have a child (p.s. motherhood can be lonely.)


For all the new mums reading this, you will know that pretty much everyone has some sort of opinion or unsolicited piece of advice on how you should act as a mother. As strong-willed as I am, I won’t pretend that some of these opinions didn’t penetrate my subconscious and have me doubting myself. That was until I started to vet the content I was consuming; both on the internet and in real life. Follow content that you can relate to and that makes you feel good about yourself (for me it was the mums that had it all together on a Monday then showed it all falling apart by Wednesday lol). They made me feel the most normal.


When it comes to family and the people around you. Set some boundaries and be loud with them. Let them know from the jump; that what you choose to do with your child is what you choose to do with your child. This is about establishing yourself as a new mum and doing things your way. Before having a baby, I liked to be out, eat out and link up with my friends. Now that I am mum; my baby and I both like to be out, eat out, and link up with friends. I say that to say, don’t assume that you can no longer do the things that you used to enjoy.


Although being a mum is a huge part of me it isn’t the only thing about me. I still love to act up with my girls, get loud, say things I sometimes shouldn’t, be outside, and have a good time. Does this make me a bad mum or less than? No. It means I am still me; I am still a mother and I am still THAT girl.
Top Tip: Do things that you enjoyed pre-baby, maintain relationships with friends, and most importantly do you!