My work as a counsellor is often about helping mothers cope with the difficult thoughts and emotions that can show up as part of motherhood’s demanding role.

Guilt is one of the most frequent unwelcome visitors – it is as though it’s an inevitable part of becoming a mother and can make an appearance even before the baby arrives.

Mums feel bad over what they did and didn’t do, or because they don’t feel the way they “should”. For some mothers perhaps there is a belief their body “should” spring back into pre-baby shape after looking through a glitzy magazine; or because they think they “should” breastfeed longer as if in competition with themselves. Many mums can feel guilty over spending too little time with their child or guilty that now that they’ve returned to work it is difficult to focus. Some mums feel guilty that they’re having a massage or even just relaxing for 20 minutes on their own. Others feel guilty that the husband’s needs have gone down the priority list.

The guilt list is as endless as a mum’s ability to think. There is always an opportunity to feel guilty over something and it is as though the mind loves playing that game: “Aha! You let your son have junk food – bad mummy”

Take some time to think about what kinds of situations normally trigger guilty feelings for you?


Sometimes mums feel bad for no apparent reason. This can be even harder to deal with, as the mind tries very, very hard to find an explanation. If there is no obvious reason then the mind may whisper something along the lines of “You are feeling sad – bad mum! You should feel happy and grateful.”

Wouldn’t you prefer to be fully present in connection with your baby, instead of having imaginary dialogues in your mind, berating yourself for your perceived failings or indulging in whatever possible scenario may or may not happen in the future?

How Can Mindfulness Help Me As A Mum?

You may not notice it, but there is usually some kind of running commentary going on in your head – your mind is telling you stories. Mindfulness is a way of bringing more awareness to the kinds of things your mind says to you.

Try to observe your mind as though you’re watching a movie on a blank screen and observe what thoughts pops up. Closing your eyes might make it a bit easier to do. Thoughts might show up as images, words, sentences and in other subtle ways too.

Take some time to just watch what pops up on the mind’s screen for a few moments.


Once you are aware of what kinds of thoughts and emotions you’re having, you can engage with them in a way that reduces their impact and control over your life. Mindfulness isn’t about trying to stop or change the thoughts, getting into an argument with the mind or thinking about something positive either. It’s about letting go.


I would like to invite you to:

Slow down,

Right now,

As you read these words,

Take a couple of deep breaths,

Do a gentle stretch,

Notice sensations in your body: allow shoulders to drop and jaw and forehead to soften,

Look around you – what can you see?

Engage all your senses: notice what you can touch, smell, taste, hear

Engage all your senses: notice what you can touch, smell, taste, hear

Allow your awareness to rest in your baby for a few moments


If you’re like me (and most people) the mind is likely to have struggled to do this simple exercise. Your mind might have an opinion about it, try to get you distracted with other thoughts, it may have rushed you through it or have found another creative way to get you tangled up in the mind once again.

The idea is not to turn you into a mummy version of the Dalai Lama. The objective of mindfulness is to give you the tools to lead a better life, with more choice and less unnecessary suffering. So when guilt shows up, with or without reason, you can choose to notice it without getting all caught up in it, and then follow the steps above, to bring you back into the present moment and into your life.

This skill of bringing awareness to the present moment takes practice. Just like learning how to play a new sport you really have to put in the effort, time and practice to become good at it. As you practice and develop a more mindful mothering experience, you may come to realise that you are doing your very best and that being a “good enough mum” is probably the best start for this little person in your life.

Silvia Wetherell,
Counsellor with specialised training in Maternal Mental Health

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