If you're reading this, chances are you're expecting a bundle of joy! Congratulations mama!
With one baby comfortably under the belt, and the years moving on, I've been thinking a lot about whether I want to have just the one baby, or if I want to grow my family. Naturally this had me thinking about my pregnancy experience, the good and the somewhat inglorious. There was a lot of learning-on-the-job, with it having been my first pregnancy, and I often wished there were more helpful tips out there for someone who cared a little less about decorating the nursery and more about updating my will!
So I thought I'd write this post and share my top "resources". Things that made me feel more and more prepared to meet my child as the months ticked along. I hope it is useful to you as well.1. Check-in with yourself
How are you doing? Really doing? How have you been managing life so far, prior to the pregnancy? Are there any areas of your life that have been niggling at you, slowly eating away at your joy? Is there anything that you have allowed to seep into your life and drain your energy? How's your mental health mama?
Check-in with yourself, and see if maybe there are some simple changes that you can make that can lessen that mental load you are already struggling under. Things are about to get wild with a newborn; trust me, you don't need any additional unnecessary stress.
When I did this exercise, I ended up moving house to a new neighbourhood I loved that was more in keeping with my personality. According to my midwife, this is a classic thing for expectant parents to do. I thought I was crazy before she assured me just how normal that was.
I also took the time to reflect on any mental hang-ups I had and sought therapy to give myself the tools I needed to effectively deal with my triggers. Partly because I was worried about post-partum depression, and I felt if it were to be visited on me I'd rather not start on an empty tank, mental-health wise.
I especially like BetterHelp if you're not in a place where you can easily access mental health practitioners without protracted waiting periods. A much cheaper option is to discuss your needs with your GP, who can refer you to better-accessible resources if in dire need.2. Understand your philosophy about childbirth, and arm yourself with a clear understanding of your wishes and rights as protected under domestic and international law.
Please, please, please, understand your rights. It is also equally important to understand what you need and what constitutes a safe birth for you. I would recommend including on your pregnancy reading list “The positive birth book”, Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to childbirth” and “The art of giving birth: five key physiological principles”. You must fundamentally have an appreciation of what you are naturally and intrinsically capable of, and what is an intervention. Interventions come with risks, so be sure to ask “what happens if I do nothing instead?”
Have a look at what “The Nice guidelines” have to say.
Hospital policies are not the law, and coercion is not permission. Have the confidence to advocate for yourself, or find someone who will when it is difficult for you to do so. I found it particularly helpful to have doulas with me at my birth to advocate for me, and to help keep me calm and focused. The wonderful ladies at BirthAbility were a godsend.3. Is this normal?! What to expect...
There were times when I had a lot of questions about what was happening to my body during pregnancy, my newborn and eventually my post-partum body. Whilst I could never get answers to some questions like why the melanin in my body seemed to be working in overdrive, I did find a few comforting resources. The Baby2Body and TheWonderweeks apps were wonderful; with the latter being a lifesaver those first few days and weeks with a newborn.4. Define your parenting style/philosophy
It is a privilege to live in an age where so much has come out of the field of child psychology, and a lot of work has gone into challenging the child-rearing approaches of yester year. So I hope you will find it reassuring when the time comes to know that your gentler approach to parenting is not “ruining your child”, as all the unsolicited advice will invariably claim.
Perhaps like me, having a solid reference point is helpful. For that I recommend the following books: The book you wish your parents had read and No bad kids: toddler discipline without shame. You can also refer to our extensive recommendation list in our past blog post.5. Seek a financial advisor and an estate manager
Form an opinion of what protections you need to give to your child financially should anything happen to you. Do you currently have life insurance? How much life insurance should you have? What happens should you be critically injured? Have you made plans about what would happen to your child in the unfortunate event that you should pass on before they reach the age of 18?
This may seem a daunting task, and it may be tempting to shy away from these questions. It will feel a lot better after you’ve sorted it out, so please don’t be overwhelmed. Seeking a financial advisor and an estate manager will go a long way in helping you shape the answers to these questions, and exploring what your options are. Most employers offer these benefits as part of their flexible benefit arrangements; double-check yours and make the most of it if it’s there. You can usually take these benefits up out of the annual cycle due to childbirth being classed as a “life event”. Alternatively, your bank may also have these services.
Let's connect in the comments below and share more helpful resources or thoughts for our soon-to-be mamas.
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As always, with all my love