1. Be Open to Change
Yep, this is about mindset. Today we know from studying the mind that the way a person reacts and adjusts to changes makes all the difference in the world. The task here is to develop a mindset that “things are in a state of change” right now. The fact of the matter is that the learning curve can be steep for new parents, whether it’s fertility issues, carrying to term, leaving a career (and income), family adjustments to the new one arriving, moving houses. Things might not always go the way they were planned and can be an adjustment for a woman, a couple and a family. If you can get used to the fact that things are going to happen, some you plan for and some you don’t see coming, it could make the process much easier. And although it may feel that you need to know what you are doing, you don’t have to have all the answers right now. Many of us learn along the way. Welcome to parenting!
2. Expect the Unexpected
This goes hand-in-hand with being open to change. When I reflect back on where my husband and I were before we had children and where we were shortly after having two children, I think the most amount of changes happened during the pregnancies and the month following. And things happened we didn’t expect. Because other lives are involved besides yours, there are more variables in play, like fertility, the way your body can carry a baby, shifts in the areas of income, shifts in the marriage, changes in the family system, housing and career, changes in identity, role changes, changes in responsibilities. Some things will happen that you plan and some that you won’t expect. What I can say is that this happens to all families. We all go through adjustments and transitions we didn’t plan for. The questions to ask yourself are: how do you respond to surprises? How do you manage your feelings about unexpected changes? And what can you do to make it easier on yourself so you feel supported and able to maneuver through these unexpected things that come up? This is a great exercise for parents because the changes will continue as you move down the parenting path. Kids are full of surprises, sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. Getting to know yourself in this area could be a survival skill you need!
3. Celebrate your body!
I know, it sounds like an oxymoron during a pregnancy because our bodies go through so many changes. (Oh yes, I remember clearly identifying with the beached whale metaphor before the deliveries). And I can also say, I loved being pregnant and enjoyed my pregnancies, every minute. So I do know from personal experience that it’s possible to actually enjoy it. Part of it was mindset. It took us years to conceive so both my husband and I were grateful for the opportunity to parent. I still am. We get to bring little human beings into this life and have them as our charges. That’s amazing. American culture puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way or adhere to certain lifestyle, or even for children to perform certain ways, it’s easy to beat ourselves up or feel like we are not doing it correctly. Even while pregnant, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing it “the right way”. So I’m here to tell you are. Your way is the “right way”. Human beings have been bearing and raising children for thousands of years. When you start to feel that anxiety, just remember that you know your body, your child and your family better than anyone. My question is: how can you add to the feeling of success and positivity during this time? There are lots of ways to eat healthy, exercise, and incorporate healthy life style changes. And there are lots of people you can get support from. For right now, how can you make a small change in your routine or lifestyle to increase your feeling of success as a new mother?
Suggestion: Get to know your body: try some meditation and breathing exercises. Try a prenatal yoga class or DVD. With doctor’s recommendation and support of course. YouTube has a ton of videos out there also for free. These kind of things can be become a habit and immensely helpful with mild contractions, pain management and general stress.
4. Find a few of your favorite things
We all need nourishment. Caring for our selves is the best way to actually care for others. What ever your instincts are during this time, it’s ok to indulge them and you. These 9 months are critical time that you won’t get back, so it’s ok to pay a little extra attention to you and your baby. Have a craving? Need to get the baby’s room ready? Naps are now a necessity? You’re a mom now, jump in and enjoy the ride! Many moms enjoy prenatal massages, taking walks, keeping up with a moderated exercise plan, eating healthy, joining online forums, spending more time with family, nesting, decorating, shopping, falling in love with their spouse again! It’s all a natural part of pregnancy. Make things as comfortable for yourself as you can!
5. Manage things like the pro you are!
As mothers and wives, we are (traditionally speaking) often cast into the role of manager. We end up taking care of a lot. Believe me, I get it. So we naturally and easily can take on a lot of things while pregnant also. I can’t explain how a mother’s mind set is during a pregnancy (and it isn’t true for everyone) but I can say that I went through it and so did many mothers I know. Certain things just have to happen before the baby arrives. Especially during the 3rd trimester, the nesting instinct can become intense! And combine that with hormones, it can be fierce. So I’m just going to say this, as wrong as it sounds: it’s ok if things don’t go the way you are expecting! You’ve got this; you can adjust and realign to address this as things that come up. Are you delegating? Does it really all have to get done right now?
6. Think positive thoughts about your baby and yourself!
Sometimes we get going with our lists and tasks and we forget how we are getting there. How are you feeling about having a baby? Are your thoughts about your pregnancy and baby negative or positive? Does it feel like you’re in a cycle of constant complaining or is it fairly easy for you? Are you overwhelmed or feeling pretty good about everything? Do you nourish your body to take care of both of you or do you take it for granted? Or are you counting the days until delivery and can’t wait for it to be over? Everyone has his or her own experiences and history that has led them to their pregnancy, to this moment. Your experience is just as valid and real as the next person’s. Is there a way you can think about things that might make it easier for yourself and your child? What can you celebrate? Who can you celebrate?
A good basic article and example of visualizing from Real Simple.
Also, you can check out ShaktiGawain.com for creative visualization exercises and more about her books and cd’s (She has a great meditation cd I use regularly :^)
Louise Hays from Hay House Publishing also has some great affirmation cards.
See my blog for ideas and resources on relaxation tips.
Two of my favorite authors are listed below:
William and Martha Sears: The Baby Book
T Berry Brazelton: Touchpoints: Birth to Three
Seems like there is an app for everything nowadays! Here’s one I like called My Pregnancy & Baby Today by BabyCenter .
Read More of June New Parent Series!
This is Part 1 of a four-part series for new parents.