Motherhood in recovery is both a blessing and a challenge. These challenges and blessings of motherhood are not unique to alcoholics and addicts, as other mothers experience them. However, the risk of relapse for clean and sober mothers is always present and therefore, we must prioritize our recovery so that we can be the mothers that our children deserve.

This is easier said than done since one’s world has just completely changed by the arrival of a baby, a totally new person who needs attention at all times. We suddenly realize that what came with this bundle of joy is a loss of freedom. It is no longer possible to just run out to the grocery store, the pace and flow of your life is completely changed. Initially this can be a shock, which, on top of possible post partum stress, fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation, can makes us feel isolated and alone. The extreme change in routine can throw off the recovery plan a mother may have had previously and the inclination to put the baby first can lead to self-neglect in areas, which we have learned are crucially important in our recovery. It can be challenging to find time for even the most basic self care without the support of loved ones, and mothers may experience guilt for leaving their babies in order to take care of themselves and avoid taking time to fit their recovery program into their new busy life.

As we are well aware, our recovery involves more than abstinence and one of the key elements in this way is to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. This is true for all those with a substance abuse history whether you are fresh from a drug rehab or years into recovery. To attain a balance in motherhood it is necessary to develop new habits to suit a new way of life. Find ways to combine self-care and childcare. For instance get a jogging stroller so you can run with your baby or find an outside place to relax, absorb Vitamin D and breastfeed all at once. Remember to eat nutritious food and sleep whenever the baby does even if there are chores to take care of. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood related issues. We need our sleep! Take time to talk to those in your support group on the phone to avoid feeling isolated and make use of online resources such as “In the Rooms”. Above all ask for help and take some time, which is yours alone to do whatever you like to take care of yourself, whether it be a massage, exercise, or yoga. Take your infant along to a meeting; it’s perfectly okay to breastfeed in public.

Being a new mother throws us into a new state of being with a unique state of joy. Spending time with a baby is ultimately an exercise in mindfulness. By staying in the moment we can clear our minds of fear of the future and past sorrow and allow ourselves to be just completely in the present. Caring for a baby is an act of absolute sharing: a selflessness, which can bolster our recovery. Motherhood can bring a new meaning to life and can fulfill us in a way we may have been searching for in drugs and alcohol.

Tessa H-F

About Tessa H-F

Tessa H-F is a writer and filmmaker who lives in New York City. Her articles have been published in various books and magazines such as Paper Magazine, Filmmaker Magazine and British GQ.