05/02/2013 04:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

There's No One Way to Approach Motherhood


This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.

When you first gaze at your tiny newborn and marvel at the miracle of birth and new life, your extraordinary new role as a mother has begun. On April 4th, 1984, I gave birth to my first daughter, and like generations of mothers before me, I was in awe of what we had produced, wondered what her future held, and promised myself that I would do anything to protect, nurture and love her. On the morning we left hospital together as a new little family, a very wise nurse sat beside me on the bed and told me something that has stayed with me ever since.


She looked me in the eye and said "always remember that your first instinct as a mother is generally the right one" and we all know that as parents, being totally responsible for a new life can sometimes be overwhelming. There is no single way to approach motherhood and all mothers are different. And there are definitely no rules. Your own first instincts as a mother will generally be right, because every mother in the world is her own unique person. Over my 30 year career I've held and photographed perhaps thousands of newborns, and believe me, that tiny little beauty you gave birth to, from day one has her own unique personality, and will go on to ultimately make her own decisions in life. As a mother, you are her guide.

May I also add my own hopefully wise words of advice to all new mothers, and that is never lose yourself and your own sense of identity completely to motherhood. Continue to be the authentic person that you are, for instance whether you want to be a stay at home mom, or whether you want to work full time ... as long as your child is in a safe and stable environment, is confident of your love, and has many other people who love them, whatever your personal choice is, they'll be fine. There will be many around you who love to voice their opinions and none of them matter except your own inner voice. All being well, you will know your children for longer as adults than you will as children. When they grow up and eventually leave home, you need to feel a sense of fulfillment within yourself and with what you have personally achieved, as opposed to thinking you have lived the past 20 or so years through somebody else.


I have spent my entire career living within the incredible world of pregnancy and newborns, and have met so many inspirational mothers. Every single one of them is unique in their own way, and that's a good thing. My wish for every mother in the world is a safe pregnancy and birth; the ability to vaccinate her children against diseases that can so easily be prevented; the means to feed, clothe and educate their children; and the rewards of guiding a brand new person to maturity. Surely this is every mother's basic right, regardless of her circumstances. If you're reading this, you're probably lucky enough to have these basic rights. Let's all keep working to change the world for every mother who doesn't.

Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, or donate $5 or more through clicking on the above graphic, a $5 donation (up to $500,000) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Shot@Life. $5 protects a child from polio and measles for his/her lifetime. Funds go to WHO, UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance who distribute them to the programs and countries with the greatest need at the time. Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Global Mom Relay, a first-of-its-kind virtual relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.