Firstly, congratulations! Maybe you’ve heard it a few times already, but becoming a mom is special. Becoming a mom for the first time is extra special.
For some women, the idea of being a mom was always on their radar, for others – it was the last thing on their mind. The prospect of having your first child can feel intimidating and a little overwhelming. Emotions you may be feeling could be a mix of fear and excitement.
Some take to pregnancy straight away, others find it an ordeal. For other women it varies, depending on which trimester they are dealing with. In any case, pregnancy is a very personal experience.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) wrapped your head around what’s happening – or about to happen, it’s time for a few words of advice.
Mom knows best
Advice for some may be coming from every direction. We’ve all heard the expression ‘mom knows best’. There will no doubt be a number of people around you who have been there before, and want to offer guidance. And some who haven’t even been there. Maybe they went through some sort of ordeal and want to prevent you from going through the same. It can be difficult to separate the well meaning from the downright misleading. So what should you bear in mind as a first time mom?
Well firstly – stay calm! Stress is the number one thing to reduce in terms of you and your baby. So find ways to relax and feel good. Mindfulness may or may not be your bag, but it does have a place for first time pregnancies. Things like meditation, a warm relaxing bath with candles. This is the time to pamper yourself.
Try not to obsess with all the information available online and from other sources. It can be all too easy to get freaked out. Limit your intake and chat to professionals if you have any concerns.
Tempting as it may be, try not to use your pregnant state as an excuse to overeat – you’ll regret it later. Allow yourself some leniency, but excess weight is uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy for your developing baby. It will pay off to be as healthy as possible while you’re pregnant. However, make peace with the idea of weight gain. It’s inevitable, necessary and temporary. And with diet and exercise, you’ll be able to get close to your prepregnancy body back.
In terms of maternity clothes, try not to get carried away. Save money by borrowing, and buying stuff that can be mixed and matched. Invest in a belly band or button extender and wear your normal clothes until that’s not an option anymore. When you do need to buy, long tank tops that you can layer under other ‘normal’ shirts are a great option.
Or better still, buy nursing tank tops – which you will still want to wear during those first few postpartum months, whether you are layering over them or not.
Exercise is actually a good idea. No need to go overboard, especially if you weren’t working out much before. Check with your doctor first, then implement an exercise routine that works for you. It will help with your energy levels and keep your weight gain more balanced. Exercising through your pregnancy will also prove beneficial when it comes time to give birth.
Don’t endure symptoms just because you’re pregnant. OK, some symptoms are to be expected, such as fatigue, nausea, and a few aches and pains. But don’t suffer in silence just because you’re expecting. Some things can be an indicator of a larger issue. Talk it through with your health care provider to put your mind at ease. Plus simply talking it through with someone will make you feel better.
Speaking of which, find a health care provider you feel comfortable with. You want to feel listened to, supported, understood and valued during your pregnancy. Make sure your care provider meets these requirements.
Take a childbirth class and get clued up. Decide what type of birthing experience you’d like to have, and learn all you can about birthing procedures. This way, you’ll know in advance things like what you can do during labour, and what tools will be available to assist you. Then decide which procedure is a good fit for you. Get educated about giving birth. The more you know, the more you will be empowered and the less anxious you’ll be.
Have a support system, whether it’s family, friends, a new mom group – find what works best for you. Stay engaged, ask questions and meet new moms. The support you receive will be invaluable.
If you’re very independent, now’s the time to let go of the reigns a bit. Let others take the strain and accept help when it’s offered.
On the practical side, a waterproof pad under your fitted sheet will prove to be real asset. Your body does things out of your control, especially in your second and third trimester. You’ll also be able to use it for all the inevitable messes you’ll deal with after your baby comes.
Stock up on essentials. It will help you mentally prepare for the big change knowing that you’ve stocked the house with necessities. This includes post-birth items like maxi pads, and wipes; baby essentials like nappies and shampoo; kitchen goods like paper towels and canned food; and bathroom supplies like toilet paper and soap.
Other important stuff to stock up on are little luxuries and treats to enjoy.
And lastly, enjoy your pregnancy. Try to savour every moment and get lots of rest in too. Keep a journal, take pictures and enjoy it. This is a special time and you’ll want to make the most of it.
Although it’s impossible to anticipate and prepare for every eventuality, it’s good to know there are plenty of resources to help see you through. Each pregnancy and each woman is different.
First time pregnancy will be a one of a kind experience for every woman. Arming yourself with plenty of information is the first step to a smooth transition to motherhood. It’s fine to read different parenting philosophy books. However ultimately, you are best placed to decide what’s best for you and your family.