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Striding into Motherhood

How some small steps of prep and planning can put mums-to-be in a stronger position when baby arrives.

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You plan for the arrival of your baby.  You are asked lots of questions about how you would like your birth to be.

Even with all your planning & birthing requests, your over-thinking, talking to medical folk, the said-plan often flies out of the window when it’s time to meet your baby. That planning is either out of your control or your baby has other ideas.

What you can have more of a say in is what happens when your baby is here. You can take practical and emotional steps before your baby arrives to help you feel more confident, positive and prepared.

1. EXPECTATIONS

Modern living gets us thinking about how you should live your lives in certain ways, and motherhood is no exception. Routines, schedules, how and when to feed, social media offering up constant reminders.

The truth of the matter is you are going to feel dog-tired (sorry for the bluntness). Feeds will feel relentless, people will pee-you off because of a well-meant remark. You may find yourself comparing yourself to other mums.

Your hormones have you on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s likely you are going to feel mum-guilt countless times and your baby doesn’t do what the book says.

Yes, these can feel like challenges and may take some time to work through but try and remember when you are going through it, these are phases and won’t be forever. Just for now.

You may well feel resistance to feelings and situations that come up however, where possible allow those feelings to show up and accept they’re there.

Give yourself time. Get support in place (friends, family, support groups, paid-for help). Find information sources that make sense to you – there are lots out there and half of it won’t be for you.

And most of all, BE KIND TO YOU.  

2. WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

While you may have Ghostbusters in your head, it’s not who I am thinking of for this. I am more thinking about your support network who you can call upon when you need an honest chat about how you think this baby-thing is going. The person who will make you laugh through the tired tears. The person who talk to you endlessly about how you can work through a phase.

You may have those people close to you and able to see them face to face. If not, a phone call can be just as valuable.

Think about who those people might be and let them know they’re going down on the list!

3. FOURTH TRIMESTER

The fourth trimester is the 12 weeks after the birth of your baby, and it’s a period often overlooked. A huge focus is placed on pregnancy and birth, and rightly so, however, if we are lacking information and support once the baby is here the recovery may take longer. 

This period is a transition for baby and mum.

The baby has come from womb to world. 9 months in a dark, cosy, rhythmic space. Constant food on tap with soothing sounds from mum. They move into a bright, light, loud sensory world where they experience hunger, they’re no longer ‘side-by-side’ to mum. Sleeping environment is massively different. Baby experiences different development stages during this period. They need to adjust to their new norms.

For mum; they are bonding with their new baby and cementing a new relationship with a tiny human they have created. Mum’s emotions are up and down. Physical changes can months to return to normal (ish). Wellbeing can be affected, plus a new family dynamic that mum is at the centre of. There is a new life mum is adjusting too and that may come easy for some, however, others may feel resistance to their new life and think about their ‘old’ one.  

4. ALL ABOUT YOU

We hear a lot about self-care and how it’s important for us (which I do agree) however, when we have a baby how we look after ourselves changes. Noticeably the time in which we have for our activities changes. The gaps in time are shorter.

It’s also possible that we don’t have the support around us to facilitate some time for ourselves.

What I have seen to work is to come up with a list of things that you love to do – think of what you used to do BC (before children) and which is possible to do in shorter gaps of time.

I’ll start you off:

•    15 min yoga practise or HIIT workout – whatever you feel like doing

•    Journaling – get ideas & ever-circling thoughts out on paper

•    Set up a series of short podcasts to listen to

•    Make a playlist of favourite music – loud and bouncy if possible

•    A chapter of a book to keep the grey matter going

•    Close your eyes and do nothing – let your mind roam and be fine with that

Becoming a mum, especially at the start can feel like a one-way street. You don’t get much coming back in the other direction. If we can give ourselves an injection of activities we enjoy doing, it can make our one-way circuit nicer to travel on. 

5. SIBLINGS

If you already have children, then you are probably very mindful how the new baby will have an impact on them. Of course, it will be a positive one however, at the start there may be a few bumps.

 There are lots of books and features written about this topic. Suggestions range from:

•    Read books that talk about the family unit

•    Include siblings in decisions that are baby-related e.g let them choose an item for the room

•    Be mindful of your child’s development age …for example if they are still young and still need your closeness and attention then it’s going to be harder for them to get used to the new baby – it will happen, just may take a little longer

•    Keep in conversation with siblings about the baby’s arrival and how it’s going to a positive change

•    Manage expectations about baby’s; they will hear crying and they won’t be able to play in the park right away!

One last thing…when baby arrives, try and keep sibling/s day-to-day as close to what they are used to / similar daily routine. It will help with the transition for them.

6. THE PRACTICAL STUFF

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Filling the freezer with food so you have healthy meals ready in a short time. Also, think of some energy-filled snacks, and not the empty-calorie-ones that are going to bring you down an hour later.

Get those niggling projects in the house done and dusted – once the baby is here it’s unlikely they will get done

Declutter your space – clearing space not only gives your physical space but it’s amazing for freeing up mental space too.

With babies comes a small village of clothes, equipment, bedding, buggies toys, gifts…the list goes on. Make the space and give everything a home so it can go straight back when you have finished using it. 

You have help with cleaning the house and it’s on regular shifts!

Have a search for the local support groups in your area – infant feeding, mums meet up, baby classes, maternal wellbeing.  

These pointers were prepared and shared by April Knell.

Postnatal Specialist I Doula I Founder of the Confident New Mum Program

Join the free support group Striding into Motherhood

[email protected] I www.aprilknell.com

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