6 Ways to Mentally Prepare for Motherhood
There are three nasty little rumors going around. The first, is that transitioning into motherhood is easy as apple pie. The second, is that anyone can ever be fully prepared for the wild journey of having a child. The third, is that cribs, baby loot, and a freshly painted nursery make you ready.
Uh, no. If there are six ways to prepare for motherhood, the first 3 are all...MYTHBUSTING.
We all take different journeys to parenthood. Maybe you looked at your partner wrong and BOOM - pregnant. Maybe you tried for months or years to conceive or adopt. Regardless of how long you’ve been preparing to be a new parent, here are some ways to get yourself in the right headspace. >>
>> BUSTING MYTH NUMBER ONE // “It’s natural + easy”
It doesn’t matter how you got to this point; whether it happened overnight or as the result of a slow plan - everyone has a moment in there pregnancy/preparation that feels like (and pardon my french): “Oh Sh*t + wide eyed emoji.” In my opinion, everyone should feel a tiny moment of terror at least once before they oh, I don’t know - BRING A WHOLE NEW HUMAN INTO THEIR HOME. It doesn’t matter how easy or hard it was to get pregnant, becoming a mother is a whole other ballgame.
It takes every bit of nine months. A little supportive guidance can go a long way. That is why my // Intro to Parenting eCourse // focuses on the skills you need to acquire as well as the person you want to become.
>> BUSTING MYTH NUMBER TWO // “You can be fully prepared”
If you are transitioning into motherhood well, it should involve some hard work, introspection, and a few very honest conversations with trusted others. While I make it my mission to get you feeling empowered and confident before baby’s arrival, I am always clear that “fully prepared,” is a bit of a myth.
I care about women’s postpartum health, and research tells us that realistic expectations are a very important part of that formula. If “fully prepared” means that you do not expect to be surprised or have periods of learning and self doubt after the baby arrives, then “fully prepared” is a dangerous game.
Accepting that the process of getting to know your baby might be awkward or painful at times is one of the best ways that you can prepare for your new role. It will help you stay ready to learn and slow to judge or feel fear.
>> BUSTING MYTH NUMBER THREE // “A pile of stuff is all you need to be ready.”
Equipment helps. I even have an awesome registry checklist that I am proud to say is thorough and super useful. But (and this butt is bigger than the whole Kardashian empire) if you haven’t prepared a place in your heart for that baby, then it doesn’t matter where you lay it down to sleep.
Of course, don’t lay your baby in an overcrowded bean bag; you want them to live. But if you want them to thrive, you’re better off collecting knowledge, skills, and insight. Nesting can be a valuable physical expression of what the mother is doing internally, but not always. It is a mistake to assume that the only thing that matters is the home. That is why my Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist keeps an eye on heart, mind, and home. You have to have all three, that is when the magic happens.
>> PREP TIP FOUR // Explore Your Expectations
The next three prep tips are tidy little summaries from my Introduction to Parenting Course. If you’re ready to deep dive into getting your heart and home really ready for baby, then I hope you’ll take the course. But if you’re just looking for a place to start, keep reading. There are definitely smart steps you can take to increase your readiness and love your baby well.
A parent’s expectations are nothing to joke about. The research is clear that a woman’s vulnerability to postpartum depression and attachment difficulties is strongly related to how realistic her expectations were before birth. Parents have a host of expectations that lay unconscious and unexpressed until they aren’t met with anything other than disappointment and confusion. Then, those “dreams deferred” can become painful, unrealized grief. Expectations matter.
When I work with pregnant parents, I give their expectations a lot of time and attention. Most of us carry expectations into motherhood that we don’t even realize or wouldn’t explore without guidance. Whether you know it or not, you do have some kind of expectation about appearance, personality, birth, and your ability. You likely have a vision for what successful parenting in your family will resemble and how this baby will impact your lifestyle and finances.
>> PREP TIP FIVE // Learn Some Skills
There are great resources for learning the physical imperatives of your child. Here is a link to my favorite skill based books. Successful parenting involves some skill. Can you quickly list 5 ways to soothe your baby when they are very upset? Do you know more than one burping technique? What about feeding and play? Luckily these skills can be learned relatively easily.
The courses offered by your local hospital are awesome for the very basics about how to hold a baby, burping, paper diapering, and breastfeeding. Your doula probably has some awesome resources too. My eCourse teaches you the fundamentals of play, soothing, and getting your baby to sleep through the night. There are a lot of place you can begin, but do the work to add some important tools to your skillset.
>> PREP TIP SIX // Create a Written Self Care Plan for When Baby Arrives
It helps to know that when the confusion, disorganization, or even depression of the postnatal period hits, you have a self care plan ready. How do you know when you need help? Do you have certain behaviors or thoughts that haunt you when you’re at your wits end? List five ways that you enjoy being helped by your partner. Who in your community will you call when you are upset or in need? Will you contract now to call them and resist the urge to “tough it out?”
Self care is such an important part of every great mother. A cornerstone of motherhood is your awareness and willingness to meet your baby’s fundamental needs. You simply can’t do any of it well it you are exhausted, sad, detached, and uncared for. Make a plan, then communicate it with your partner.
>> Wrapping it Up
There is so much that you can do to mentally prepare for baby. This list and my Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist are just two great places to start. But if you want help really exploring your expectations, building your skillset, and developing a thorough self-help plan - then my eCourse is the best thing on the market. I really believe that! Listen to what other folks have to say:
The best intervention is prevention. And the best prevention is preparation. Good luck, stay prepared, and as always - be ready to adapt. You have all you need to be a great mom (and I believe that too).