“Preparing for motherhood” means different things to everyone. For you, maybe it’s knowing the baby’s gender, or having the nursery ready, or investigating every type of breast pump. All of these are valid, of course, and very practical. But as a pediatrician who has counseled countless new moms, I believe the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for motherhood is to change your mindset – shift your thinking to the resolve that life will change, unexpected things will happen, and you will adapt. Do this and parenting will be an amazing ride. But if you resist, if you try to retain “control” and obsess over your concept of “perfect,” you may have a difficult road ahead of you.
I know that giving up control isn’t easy, so here are a few things that still are within your control:
1. Smile-and-Nod Plan:
- When you’re pregnant, the world is abundant with advice, unsolicited or not. When people stress you, smile-and-nod, go to a happy place in your head and walk away or change the subject.
- Stop hanging around people who cultivate stress often – they are merely transferring their own fears onto you.
- Come up with a pat response, then do what is right for you and your family. This issue will continuously manifest in varying forms throughout the life of your child.
- Let ‘as nature intended’ be your guide.
- If someone is smoking or there is a potent odor, then move away from it. Don’t agonize over whether or not it is hazardous, just take action. What you inhale, baby inhales.
- No irritant or pollutant benefits you or your infant. If it has radiation potential, then leave.
- Follow your OB/GYN’s advice of what to avoid while pregnant. If you are uncertain, then always, always ask your doctor.
3. OB/GYN & Medical Care:
- Meet every member of the group — it is a real possibility another doctor could deliver your baby.
- Ask your physician what hospital has the highest level of Neonatal Intensive Care. In the rare event there is an issue, you do not want care delayed because the infant needs to be transferred to another facility.
- Learn early what you need to do to get health insurance for your newborn. Follow directions precisely or you could be held responsible financially.
- Infant and basic CPR classes are always worthwhile.
- Decide what classes and products are right for YOU and your needs. If you believe a birthing class will excite you, then take it. If you don’t feel you really need a breastfeeding class, that’s fine. If you do take classes, simply accept that the real experience will not be the same— and, that’s ok!
- Buy products when you genuinely understand your own needs.
- Don’t stress yourself out about getting everything before the baby is born. What wasn’t purchased before delivery, can easily be obtained afterwards.
5. Your Thinking:
- Adopt the tenet: Problems will arise and I will figure them out. Worrying about all that can go wrong wastes a lot of mental energy and depletes your joy in today.
- Be hyper-vigilant with your mind to remain in the moment and endeavor to maintain your peace of mind.
Congratulations! I hope you enjoy this exciting time.
Jamie Wells, MD, is a Yale educated, board-certified pediatrician with over a decade of experience caring for patients. Dr. Wells is a Clinical Instructor at NYU Langone/NYU School of Medicine and provides commentary for various media outlets. Read more from Dr. Wells at www.getwellsmd.com and find her on Twitter @jamiewellsmd.