What an amazing thing it is to give birth! It is probably the hardest thing you will do, ever! Filled with emotion and strength, it is truly glorious. God is bringing His plan for a new life into the world through you, isn't that incredible. It also feels weighty. It is relatively easy to care for your baby when he or she is inside. But how do you make the transition from pregnancy to mothering? Can you prepare for this at all?
What will life be like after you bring home this new person? What can you expect and what will be expected of you? You probably are pretty skewed one way or another. You might have the picture of a fabric softener commercial, everything is in soft focus, you place your freshly bathed infant in a huge fluffy towel as they coo at you and give you a first toothless grin. You are diapering and dressing them with confidence. Yes, you will have those days. Possibly you are fearfully thinking of another scenario, a colicky baby like the one your sister or friend brought home who cannot stop crying, will not sleep and projectile vomits. Yes, there will be those days too. But like everything in life, it is a mix of both. If someone tells you it is all one way or another, they want you to admire them, either for soldiering through or for being a perfect parent. Neither will be your full time experience.
So back to the question, what can you do to prepare for the new adventure of a child?
I think the first tactic is to create a nurturing environment. As you build a nursery room or nook in your bedroom, make it an inviting place that you can relax in. Create a nursing space in your living area with good books, a charging station, a soft light and a place for a cold glass of water. The more relaxed you can be, the more relaxed the baby will be. The baby is created to receive cues from you! They can sense the stress hormones or they can sense the oxytocin (a relaxing hormone) created by bonding, milk production and breastfeeding. You can do a lot to help make the baby content and it starts with creating an inviting environment for you, which brings dividends for you, too.
The next thing is education. Now, if you take nothing else at all from me, this tidbit is key!!! Don't miss this. Educate yourself about a style that feels right to you and follow your intuition. If it isn't working for your very unique child, or you, scrap it! Don't let anyone tell you there is only one right way to parent. Even if there is someone who you admire, a real or even a perfect-seeming person, they are not you, they did not have your child. This is not a computer we are dealing with but a person with real feelings and real personality built in. It cannot be and will never be, “If I do it all by the book I will get the perfect outcome.” There are just too many variables in God's creation. If we could know what worked for every single child, there would be no need to google anything. We would all have the manual and all have cookie cutter children. However I believe we all have an inner manual installed while the baby grows. It is called intuition. If we attune ourselves to the inner voice of our intuition, we will know what to listen to, what advice to take, what to leave behind. Which brings me to the next thing I think is crucial.
We can prepare for this transition by getting our tribe around us. Wise women a little further in the journey than you will be an asset you cannot measure. You have heard me harp on this already, if you follow me. If you do not have a church family with someone you can cling to, look for a moms group, a person from your childbirth class, a postpartum doula (I know a good one), and even a Facebook mom group. All these can offer some support so you can keep yourself from being isolated. Look for a few helpers to come alongside you. You will not regret it.
These three elements are key to my mind, to start to prepare for this brand new journey. There are other things that can help but no toy, no app, no gadget or technology can ever replace your intuition or your own special way to comfort and care for your child. You were made for that child and that child was made for you. You have a purpose in their life and they have a purpose in yours. Relax and enjoy your baby, they love you! Try to find your joy in the little moments when they look in your eyes, grasp your finger. To them, you are a superstar and if you are caring for a little one day to day, you are a superstar to me too.
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula