Parenthood is a daunting prospect that causes a mum-to-be to switch rapidly from excitement to nervousness and back again and THAT’S why motherhood is too singular for easy general advice.
However, there are some things you can do beforehand to prepare yourself for the journey. Here are 15 tips that every first time mum-to-be could benefit from.
- There is no easy way to give birth…but it isn’t as hard as you think
Don’t fret. Women have been giving birth for tens of thousands of years, so you know it can be done. Anticipation is good, but don’t let it turn into anxiety of the negative kind. Staying positive and cheerful is the best gift you can give yourself.
- Your life is about do a somersault
Now, we don’t really mean to scare you off, but like anybody who has procreated will tell you, life changes dramatically after you have a baby. Yes, there will be sleepless nights and dirty diapers, but there will also be soft cuddles and tiny fingers exploring your face. It’s like a rollercoaster, really – if you enjoy that sort of thing.
- Get your health in top shape
A woman’s body goes through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth, so it helps to prepare it well with good eating habits, adequate sleep and exercise. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrain and Omega-3’s. Yoga is a good stress buster and is known to make labour easier and less painful.
- It’s not like they show it on TV
Marketers would have you believe that motherhood is all giggles and smiles, but reality is sometimes far from pretty. There will be moments of exhilaration and moments of extreme frustration, but a mum’s got to take it all in her stride and keep marching. Keep your expectations realistic and remember that it is OK not to feel or act perfect all the time.
- It is OK to ask for help
Sure, you want to go at it alone like Superwoman but allowing other people to pitch in can actually take some stress off your shoulders and make motherhood more enjoyable. Be it your mother, a friend or a friendly neighbour, it is always good to have other people partake in your parenting journey AND it makes it all the more fun when you share your experience with others.
- Learning to love the new you
Pregnancy changes your body in more ways than you can imagine, and many women struggle to accept themselves in this new avatar. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are creating a beautiful new life inside of you. Your body is making a tiny human. This consciousness will help you appreciate your body and be more accepting of the transformation it is going through.
- Create a birth plan but don’t bank on it
Talk with your partner and your doctor about what kind of birth you would prefer to have (natural, induced, C-section, with/without epidural) and where. However, don’t be too hung up on it either – babies are mighty good at springing surprises and things may always not go to plan. Be flexible and open to choices, and as long your baby gets a safe landing, its all good.
- There is such a thing as “too much information”
It is good to gather information and be a part of mum communities, but it is equally important to decide where to draw the line. Conflicting bits of information can be rather overwhelming at times, and may make you feel anxious or paranoid for no reason. Any anyhow, no amount of reading will equip you for the moment when you hold that little bundle of joy in your arms for the very first time.
- Make smart shopping decisions
Make a list of essentials and prepare for your baby’s arrival because you may not be able to spare too much time for shopping after the delivery. Don’t get carried away by all the fancy stuff though – just buy a few useful items and make additions when needed. Many mums swear by online shopping and for good reason.
10. The doctor above all else
Everyone you know will have some advice to share on pregnancy and parenting but you don’t have to heed all of it. Pregnancies are as varied and unique as human DNA and what may work for one person may not necessarily benefit another. When in doubt, always consult your doctor or midwife and trust their advice above all else.
11. Join a pre-natal class
Joining a pre-natal class will put you in an environment of people who are having the same experience. It works as a support group of sorts and assures you that you are not alone in your journey.
12. Have all the fun you can have
This is not to suggest that this is the last bit of fun you are going to have, but you probably won’t be able to make much time for girl’s nights out, pub hopping and movies after the baby is born (at least for a while). Live it up as much as you can, without the alcohol of course!
13. Go at it as a team
Pregnancy may be a woman’s domain but there is no reason why your partner shouldn’t be a part of it. Keep your partner cued in to the tiniest of developments so that he feels as connected to the baby as you do.
14. You can be a new mum, AND well-groomed
This may seem a little off-track but having a baby doesn’t mean you need to be walking around like a hirsute zombie. Take care of yourself and invest in some grooming essentials like an epilator/trimmer, home facial kits and manicure tools. It is important to feel good and confident about yourself (but don’t go overboard – sleep is VITAL in those first few weeks, after that, time to spend some time on you to make you feel good about yourself).
15. Consider your career options
Since you will soon be on maternity leave, think about your career options and discuss the same with your employer and partner. Would you like to join work soon after giving birth or would you prefer to take a break for a couple of years? How about part-time or work-from-home arrangements? These are crucial decisions that will impact your household income and parenting policies.
Do you have any tips to add for new mum-to-be’s?