Hey Mommy! I see you’ve got a little one on the way. You must be dizzyingly excited. Or utterly terrified. Or a little bit of both. Your head is likely spinning from all the information you’re being given my all and sundry when it comes to how to “do” pregnancy and motherhood. You’ve probably already heard more information about being a Mom than you can throw a breast pump at.
Your friends who have kids likely give you a blow-by-blow account of how your body’s going to change (and how much of a struggle it’s going to be to shift your baby weight). Your co-workers have stopped even getting embarrassed when they stop to give your belly a rub when they pass by. Your spouse or partner is doing their best to hide their panic as they comprehend the sheer looming responsibility that’s coming your way and your Mom has even started to regale you with all her least favorite memories of what you were like as a baby.
It’s enough to give a girl palpitations. And as loathe as I am to add to the stress caused by unsolicited “sagely wisdom” as you stare down the task of motherhood, there’s one piece of advice that simply must be imparted…
Take care of yourself.
In the same way that you need to attach your own oxygen mask on a plane before fitting your child’s, it’s much, much harder to look after a child if you’re not properly looking after your health. Here are some easy ways in which all Moms-to-be can take better care of themselves while they’re expecting…
Get as much sleep as you can every day
We can all develop a habit of depriving our bodies of the sleep they need. Our hectic modern lifestyles can make it difficult for us to wind down after a hard day’s work, and make us resentful when we have to turn in for the night. Nonetheless, a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night is absolutely vital in maintaining good physical and cognitive health. For Moms-to-be it’s especially important. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a longer labor and a greater likelihood of needing a caesarian section. What’s more, it can make it much harder to deal with the challenging and unpredictable nature of pregnancy.
You owe it to yourself to eat right
Your baby is relying on you to give it the nutrients it needs to develop. But equally important, you owe it to yourself to get the nourishment you need to get your body through this challenging time. If you’re on maternity leave, use this time to fall in love with cooking again. Make sure that you get a varied diet consisting of whole foods wherever possible and mostly plants.
Fresh fruits and veggies are bursting with the minerals and vitamins you need to stay healthy while pregnant and be sure to get plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Lean proteins are especially important but don’t worry veggie and vegan mommies, you don’t have to start eating meat or fish on baby’s account. Just make sure that your diet is rich in plant-based protein sources like beans, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
Know what to expect… But don’t obsess
Doing your due diligence on the process of pregnancy and childbirth can help you to emotionally and physically prepare for the experience of childbirth. It’s also a good idea to go to antenatal classes and invest in technology like Bloomlife which will help you to time your contractions when your day comes. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should let you fall into the trap of obsessing. All too often Moms-to-be find themselves getting worked up about every aspect of their pregnancy and asking themselves “is this normal?”.
Remember that every woman and every birth is different. Comparing yourself to others can provide a benchmark, but it can also cause you a lot of undue stress, worry, and self-doubt.
Do the things that make you feel like you.
Have you ever noticed how we can use the word “Mom” interchangeably with “anonymous slave drone”? Many pregnant women fear that when they become parents they will lose their sense of identity and individuality. There’s no reason to assume that this will happen to you. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to take the time to do your favorite things, see your favorite people and do all the things that make you feel like you.
Go to your dance class for as long as your body will let you. Watch your favorite movies and TV shows. Read your favorite books. Go on dates. Hang out with the girls. Take a good book to your local coffee shop. Whatever helps to remind you that you are a human being and not just a Mombot waiting to happen.
If you love your work… Work!
For a lot of new Moms, their maternity leave offers a welcome reprieve from the quotidian schedule and petty politics of the workplace. Indeed, when they return to work after their babies are born they often find that work no longer represents the same stress and strain that it used to.
Nonetheless, if you’re an inveterate career woman pregnancy and maternity leave can bring a change of pace that is jarring. If you’re the kind of highly motivated woman who can’t sit still, there are still numerous ways in which you can work from home while taking care of your baby. Whether this comes in the form of chipping in a little for your old employer, taking on some clients as a freelancer or starting a whole new side hustle it can be a great way to remind yourself who you are outside of pregnancy or motherhood.
Trust that you’ll click into “Mommy Mode”
Finally, many women can find themselves worrying that they don’t yet feel like a Mom. This can drive them into paroxysms of self-doubt. Trust that it may take you a little longer than other Moms, but you’ll get there eventually. Motherhood changes your brain in ways that you may not be able to identify or comprehend and the process is different for everyone. Nonetheless, believe in yourself and trust that you will rise to the change and challenge with aplomb.