Everyone knows there’s no manual for parenting. Sure, there’s lots of advice out, but the only real way to learn is by experiencing motherhood firsthand. And before the baby arrives, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success. Once the baby comes, you begin an incredible journey.
So, here are some tips that will help you prepare for this amazing time.
Create a Budget
Having a child is expensive. You have to budget for medical bills, food and clothing, and essential baby gear. And just when your expenses go up, your income goes down as you take maternity leave.
So, start a baby fund as soon as possible. This can help you prepare for all those inevitable bills.
No matter what your lifestyle is, your living space is probably not baby-friendly.
Take the time before the baby arrives to declutter, clear out and create space for this new, little person. This might mean setting up a nursery or sorting through neglected wardrobes.
As the saying goes, Out with the old and in with the new!
Stick to the Essentials
Advertising and marketing tell you to go out and by all the latest, trendiest gear, clothing and accessories.
But you don’t have to spend all your savings on baby purchases. Instead, buy only what you absolutely need, like car seats, strollers, baby monitors, clothing, cloth diapers, or disposable diapers.
As you go along, you discover what’s necessary and important for you and your baby.
Write a Birth Plan
It’s difficult to know how your birth will go. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and hope for the best.
You can educate yourself on the different birthing options available to you. Maybe you prefer natural birth, water birth, cesarean section, or the use of medication.
Whatever your choice, be intentional and write a birth plan that you’d like to follow.
Of course, it might not go as planned due to circumstances that are out of your control, but it’s better to have some plan than none at all.
There is absolutely no shame in getting help as you navigate motherhood.
It can be exhilarating and overwhelming, and you don’t have to go it alone! Ask friends and family to help with meals, house cleaning and even pet care. This way you can rest, recover and take care of your child.
Breastfeeding or Formula?
How you feed your baby will depend on many factors: your values, your intentions, your job and the support of friends and family.
While the formula is the easier route, breastfeeding also has many benefits. It’s important to learn which option is the best for you, and give it a try.
And if you find feeding difficult, don’t be afraid to seek guidance and support from a lactation consultant or a trusted medical professional.
Love Your Body
When you go through pregnancy and birth, your body will change. New moms often face body-image issues when they try to accept their new figures.
But why wait until the baby comes to love your body?
You can practice self-care and positive affirmations that resonate with you right now. By doing so, you can create a loving routine that will carry into motherhood.
Motherhood is a Job
You might love your career, but you’ll still have bad days. That’s normal and the same goes for motherhood.
Some days, you may feel completely in love with your child, other days, you might only feel stressed.
Try to be easy on yourself, because if your expectations are too high, you’ll end up feeling really bad about yourself. Instead, give yourself reasonable and low expectations that are doable. Eventually, you can bump everything up a notch.
Have a Life
Now, it’s true that a new baby will require almost all of your waking (and sleeping!) hours. It’s natural for babies to need you completely.
But try to maintain interests and hobbies outside of your child. Sure, you might not be able to give them as much time as before, but try not to cut them out altogether.
Is there a favorite book series you’re reading? Keep the book nearby!
Learn to Relax
Being a first-time mom means facing many unknown situations. Some of them will throw you for a loop, and really challenge you.
Try to learn how to relax and be mindful before the baby arrives.
Activities like meditation, hypnobirthing classes, deep breathing practices and yoga for pregnancy are all wonderful ways to get in the zone. This mindfulness can help you cope with stressful situations without losing your cool and composure.
It’s important to maintain your sense of self and identity when you have your first child.
But one thing’s for sure: your lifestyle will completely change.
You won’t have the freedom, convenience, and ease that you used to. Knowing this beforehand can help you accept your new reality, and help you feel less discouraged or left out.
Trust Your Intuition
There’s no manual for being a first-time mom, and lots of people will give you (unsolicited) advice. Some of it will work for you, and some it won’t, and that’s okay.
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to trust your gut and follow your heart when it comes to taking care of your baby.
Unless you have an Early Childhood degree, or something similar, you probably aren’t too familiar with a baby’s developmental stages, or what to expect as they grow.
There is a plethora of parenting literature available today. So, avail yourself of this opportunity and read as much as you can before the stork arrives. After all, knowledge is power. Ask other moms what books they recommend.
Or, get informed by reading blogs written by moms just like you. You’re likely to get honest advice and lots of great tips.
Having a child is an experience like no other. And every new mom learns as she goes. So, don’t be afraid to learn, unlearn and try new things to make your experience perfect for you.