Motherhood and Identity – Is being labelled that bad?

Motherhood and Identity – Is being labelled that bad?

Bothered by women being pigeonholed into a one size fits all “mum category”, we set up Milk Tops London - a brand specialising in nursing tops that look like your favourite everyday wardrobe items (rather than clothes meant for someone else). Read about our mission here.

What people choose to wear is more often than not based on one’s identity and sense identification. “It’s not very me” is a phrase often used around clothing racks and online browsing.  

Mother Pukka’s tag line “For people who happen to be parents” succinctly sums up how many people probably wish parenthood was perceived: You are still you, and you are a parent. It’s not a binary concept.  

Going much wider on the topic of identity than our wardrobes, we pondered how motherhood (if we were lucky enough to experience it) might affect our identities and how we saw ourselves.

Fast forward to 2019 and Clare is four months into motherhood. So, what does the topic of identity mean to her now? Read on below.


What is identity?

For me, my interests, how I spend my time and the people I spend it with all form part of my identity. Overnight, these change when you have a baby. I’ve taken a break from work to look after my daughter, so my normal day to day has changed from commuting into the city to work to becoming a stay at home mum.

The way I spend my ‘free’ time has changed and my friendship circles have altered. I can see both positives and negatives to this. I’m still my old self but there has also been a shift in my identity.


Being labelled

Whether you like it or not, your job or vocation defines you to some extent. I’m now not a ‘30 something accountant’, I’m a ‘stay at home mum’ (I’m sure a lot of people would see this as an improvement… accountancy isn’t the most exciting of professions!).

As a mum you often become referred to as [Insert your baby’s name]’s mum rather than by your name.

 At first, I thought about this negatively, as there’s more to me than just being a mum, but the more I think about it the more positive it becomes. I wanted a baby for a long time and so what’s wrong with now being labelled as that?

 Of course, this only tends to happen at baby-related activities such as baby classes, health clinics, meet-ups with new mums etc. However, you spend the vast majority of your time at these places and don’t often get the chance to do things without your child when they’re very little (especially if breastfeeding). You are physically in “Mum” mode all the time. 

This is incredibly rewarding and getting to know this new little person is amazing. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a cuddle with a new-born? But it’s easy to forget, or not possible, to spend a bit of time to yourself, with just you and your partner or with your ‘non-mum’ friends. 

I guess it’s about balance.


Practical aspects of identity and motherhood

Interests I filled my evenings and weekends with before motherhood, I find hard to do now, exercise being one of them.

 There are some good mum and baby exercise classes on offer but it’s very different from what I was doing before.  Cooking is another example. There’s little time for this now. Eating has become very functional - you want a quick, easy meal at the end of a day. And it’s a bonus if you manage to eat lunch or breakfast some days.

Ideally, you need to be able to eat with your baby in one hand and the food must take 30 secs or less to prepare!!

Your friendship groups shift too. You’re suddenly socialising with mums and babies the majority of the time. Naturally you end up talking about babies or related subjects because often it’s one of the main things you have in common.

So no more going to gigs, cinema trips or meals out at fancy restaurants. But this new support network has been so important to me, being able to message a group of ladies at 3 in the morning when you’re having trouble feeding and covered head to toe in baby poo and/or sick is a lifesaver.

It can take a bit more effort and logistical planning to see your ‘non-mum’ friends but so worth it – an afternoon of mindless non-baby chit chat can do the world of good when you’re feeling overwhelmed.


You’re still you

Motherhood is a giant shift and you suddenly lose a lot of control in your life. So much is dependent on your baby and although you knew this would happen, and you really wanted it, it’s hard to prepare for and anticipate exactly how you’ll feel about yourself when it does happen.

I’m still me but now I’m also a mum.  



Look out for future articles on the identity theme coming in 2019.


This post is brought to you by Milk Tops London — We design nursing tops for breastfeeding women that challenge the stereotype. Mothers will be pigeonholed no more!



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