SafeMotherhood
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THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

"After the birth, everything focuses on the baby,' says Kate Figes, author of 'Life After Birth - What Even Your Friends Won't Tell You About Motherhood' (Viking, £12.99). "Nobody seems to pay any attention to the massive change that the mother's going through!

"They call the menopause 'the change' - don't they? But the really big change that takes place in a woman's life is when she has her first baby!" And according to US psychiatrist Daniel Stern, author of 'The Birth of a Mother' (Bloomsbury, £11.99), when a woman has her first baby "she enters a realm of experience not known to non-mothers... She will, for a time, operate from an entirely new mindset."

Now that you have a baby, you may recognise these descriptions of a fundamentally changed view of the world. And as the 'babyshock' of the first weeks recede, you may find that it leaves you with a set of different priorities.

Women who had planned to go back to work may start thinking about postponing that decision - or cancelling it - and re-thinking their future.

Children need physical care, love and security, stimulation, and opportunities to learn and develop. And so do mothers. Underneath, you are still the same person as you always were - the word 'mum' does not define you totally!

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