Post-Delivery Core and Pelvic floor exercises, Meditations, Recipes and Educational Content
By Amber Parker, Psy.D.,
Licensed Clinical Psychologist,
While pregnant, we devote so much energy to preparing for baby’s arrival. Car seats must be researched and selected, diapers purchased, tiny baby clothes washed, and a nursery furnished. Friends and family may host a baby shower to contribute to the supplies a baby needs. In this whirlwind of planning, women often forget to ready themselves emotionally for motherhood. However, having adequate internal emotional resources will provide a solid foundation for coping with the inevitable stress of caring for a newborn.
Five Suggestions To Prepare You Emotionally For Having a Baby
Build your team
Having a solid support network is an important predictor of postpartum adjustment. Know who is on your support team. This includes the professionals such as an OB, birth doula, or therapist. Be selective in choosing these people so they are individuals you feel comfortable with and can trust. The other component of your team includes the personal members such as friends and family. Think about what qualities each of those people brings to the table, and what you can request. If your friend is a great cook, consider asking her to prepare some meals for you. Maybe another friend is a new mom and can offer advice and a listening ear. If you have difficult relationships with any family members, think about how you will set expectations and boundaries regarding visits and gifts with them. Be clear in your communication. Remember: during this time in your life, your needs and the needs of your partner and baby come first.
Create a birth plan – but know things might not go as planned
It is wise to have preferences for the birth and to weigh your feelings about different procedures and interventions. However, it is just as important to remember that things might not go the way you hope. Labor and delivery are unpredictable experiences, and can be emotionally difficult. Carefully select who will accompany you while you are laboring. Choose people who help you feel calm and safe and who will be good advocates for you. After baby arrives, think about your birth story and give yourself the emotional space to decide how you feel about the event. Processing the experience with a close friend or therapist can be healing.
Talk to your partner about how you will share responsibilities
Many couples have certain assumptions about the roles they will play as a new parent, but few couples share these expectations with each other in advance. This can lead to conflict and resentment. Instead, sit down with your partner before baby arrives and share your thoughts about how caregiving tasks will be divided. Who will change diapers? Who will give the baby a bath? Who will make sure the diaper bag is stocked? Who will put baby down at bedtime? Keep the lines of communication open after baby is home in case your feelings change.
Free yourself from expectations of perfection
Do you have unreasonably high expectations of yourself? Do you feel the need to complete tasks yourself so they are done correctly? Do you fixate on your mistakes? Moms with perfectionist tendencies can especially struggle once baby arrives because your life suddenly becomes filled with situations that are out of your control. As much as you can, try to become aware of your perfectionist tendencies while pregnant. Release yourself from “should” statements.Practice accepting outcomes as your best effort at the time and focusing on the present rather than imagining what you could have done differently. Consider consulting a therapist during pregnancy or after baby arrives if these qualities prove difficult to overcome.
Set some time aside for yourself
Your life is about to change in a big way. Plan to spend some time before baby arrives considering your identity. What makes you happiest? What are your hobbies? What qualities and traits define you? What things do you want to continue doing after baby is here? By considering these questions now, you can prepare for the transformation from pregnancy to mother of an infant. Journaling can be helpful for composing your thoughts in written form, and can then be reviewed again after you have your baby.
Having a baby brings unparalleled joys and challenges to your life. By preparing yourself emotionally, you can ease the transition and have the tools in place to adapt to your identity as mother.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.