Trust Yourself: How to Make Confident Decisions in Motherhood

motherhood pregnancy Aug 12, 2023

Entering the realm of motherhood can often feel like stepping into an endless maze. The myriad of decisions that you're expected to navigate as a new mom can seem overwhelming. From health and nutrition choices, to balancing work and home, to deciphering the best parenting style – all while dealing with a tsunami of emotions, advice, and societal expectations. It's no surprise that many new moms find themselves grappling with the question, "Is this it? Is it all on me now?” Self-doubt, anxiety, and burnout have become a part of motherhood we don’t even question anymore—but deep down we know there must be a better way.

In her book Transformed by Birth, Britta Bushnell encourages her readers to think of labor and delivery as a labyrinth rather than a maze, and I think it’s a useful distinction for motherhood as well. While a maze is designed to confuse, a labyrinth is designed to offer calm and purpose as it is walked. There is plenty of twisting and winding, sometimes towards the center and sometimes away, but ultimately the path leads to the center as long as you keep walking. In a maze, the goal is to find the solution of a puzzle that is designed to confuse you. In a labyrinth, the purpose is in the journey, the walking of the path and acceptance that though the direction may not seem clear or expected, its is our intentional decision to keep moving forward that makes the difference.


I’ve found this reframe to be immensely helpful in changing my thinking about motherhood in general, and it’s certainly an image that I wish I’d found in pregnancy. The path to and through motherhood is rarely straightforward and linear. But even knowing this doesn’t make us immune to the frustration and doubt that can often creep into even the most meditative of labyrinths.


This is where the concept of Value-Driven Motherhood comes in. While walking the labyrinth with no concept of where center is might be freeing for some, most of us, especially if we’re new to this journey, aren’t so fortunate. Humans crave orientation - in so many ways, we often define ourselves and our decisions by how close to or far from society’s expectations they are. Understanding your core values helps you find the center of your labyrinth, the True North on your inner compass, the constellation of beliefs and principles that can help you orient yourself to the twists and turns.

By calibrating your inner compass to your unique values, it becomes easier to see that there are many possible ways to live those values. This in turn makes it easier to let go of what isn’t working, to embrace new solutions, and to be a little more at ease “welcoming the unbidden” — that is, allowing ourselves to walk the labyrinth without knowing which way it will turn next, but still trusting that what we discover along the way will have great worth for us.


If I haven’t lost you yet with all this labyrinth symbolism, let’s dive into some less symbolic ways that understanding your core values can ease the load of motherhood, no matter which phase of it you’re in.



Part 1: The Challenges of Decision-Making in Motherhood


From the moment you announce your pregnancy, it feels like you're thrust onto a stage under a spotlight. Everyone, from your mother-in-law to the internet stranger, seems to have an opinion on how you should be a mother. This external societal pressure can be draining and can create self-doubt, further complicating the decision-making process. In so many ways, we are subtly sent the message that we can’t figure any of this out for ourselves—even something as unique and personal as deciding when or if to switch to wearing maternity clothes is a common topic in online forums and blog posts.


Additionally, the internal pressure to make the "right" decision for your baby can be a source of anxiety and stress. The fear of making the wrong choice or not being good enough is a common thread among new mothers. This is further amplified by the staggering amount of information available today. The internet, with its endless streams of data, opinions, and advice, while useful, can often lead to information overload. This excess can leave you feeling paralyzed, uncertain of what course of action to take.


Part 2: The Power of Core Values


In this whirlwind of external and internal pressures, one thing can help you navigate with clarity and confidence: your core values. Core values are the principles and beliefs that you hold most dear; they define who you are and what matters most to you. 


In this age of information, we are unaccustomed to sitting with a question, to letting ourselves feel curiosity and wonder instead of immediately jumping to Google an answer. There is value in learning to turn inward first, to sit with your sense of curiosity and think of what you already know about it, what you need or want to know still, and how you’d like to find that information. Intentional information gathering is important in restoring your self-trust and reframing yourself as the authority in your own life. YOU are the first place you should turn, even if it’s a topic you know nothing about, because only after turning inward can you begin to seek the information you need with intention, direction, confidence, and boundaries. 


Filtering your questions and the information you find through your values ensures that you are tuning in to how all this fits and resonates with your actual life, because you’re the one who’s going to have to live it. It allows you to discard questions or topics that aren’t relevant to you even if they’re all the rage on the pregnancy groups—not with a sense of superiority, but with a knowledge that your energy is being called to flow elsewhere.


Aligning your motherhood decisions with your core values reduces stress and boosts your confidence. It allows you to stand tall in the face of societal pressure and judgment because you know that you're making the best decision for you and your baby. It allows you to frame your research and discussions with healthcare providers, helping you to see what meets your needs and what doesn’t. Approaching your information gathering with openness and intention can help protect from both overwhelm and from rigidity - both of which are wonder killers and will make your life as a mother SO much harder.



Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood defy order and logic. They laugh in the face of the neat little labels, boxes, and lists we try to cram them into. Motherhood is a place of wilderness—and you’ll be much better equipped with a well-calibrated compass and a sense of openness than with a subway map and bus timetable. 


As you venture into the wild and wonderful journey of motherhood, remember that you have this compass – your core values. Identifying these values and using them as a guide can help alleviate stress, simplify decision-making, and bring joy to your unique motherhood journey.


Motherhood isn't about making the "perfect" choices - it's about making choices that are perfect for you.



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