Pregnancy can be a time of mixed emotions, depending on your journey to get to this point, you may have a sense of ease and control or worries and anxieties, or a mix of both.
With that in mind, it can be good to consider the the various factors that create an experience from physical, emotional to financial and practical, as you embark on this adventure and here’s some conversation points and tools to help:
Talking about the Changes and Challenges
Whether with a partner, a friend who has been there or one that hasn’t but is there and a supportive listener, to a professional such as your midwife, health visitor or a therapist. Talk to some about what is going for you that you may be finding tricky; physical challenges, worries about being a parent, money worries, whatever it is, a problem shared is often a problem halved. Others can offer a fresh perspective, some ideas to help, solutions or signposting to others.
If a physical person doesn’t feel present try and share online via groups and forums or write your thoughts down in a journal.
Roles & Responsibilities
Whether you are taking on the role of being a parent on your own or in a partnership, you are likely to have others around you in some capacity. Perhaps friends, family or help, such as childcare or domestic so it can be useful to consider that everyone’s responsibility is going to be.
Think about what is feasible to take on for each of you if you’re parenting together. Joint responsibility doesn’t mean you will be doing the same job, rather that you’ll be doing your part for a wider team. One of the silent things that seems to go alongside predominantly motherhood is the large emotional load of raising children. So take time to write down beforehand who will doing what in your team and see the list for what it is and how much effort and time it takes emotionally and physically. Perhaps one of you will be working externally for money, note the pressures, hours and demands and what your team gains and then repeat for each of you and your responsibilities. Perhaps if one of you is feeding and being the , the other can be responsible for a morning tidy-up, getting breakfast out and changing the baby.
Consider your temperaments, is there one of you who handles stress more easily than the other, can that person be responsible for certain moments and also see if certain tasks be outsourced to reduce physical pressure, especially in the early days of parenting.
Working together to support each other and keep your goals in mind, what does family mean to you and what do you need to support that vision coming to life slowly.
Who you are…
The thing about this process is that you will take yourself, your whole self, through the journey and all the stuff we have carried through our lives and particularly our own childhood and how we were parented. If you’re expecting your first baby it can be hard to conceptualise who and what you will feel like as a parent (the truth is all children bring out something different in us, as do all people) but there are ways that we can start to consider what is likely to be drawn out of us by parenting and give ourselves some tools and support to create some emotional resilience to this changing landscape of our lives.
One of the biggest things that comes up in our parenting journey can be ourselves continues patterns of behaviour that we witnessed in our own parent figures. What did you see your parents roles as when you were growing up? How did family life feel? What did you like and what would you want to change? Talk through this with your partner, do your ideas feel aligned or do you need to explore how to bring these ideas together?
What in the way you were parented made you feel good and what didn’t? What do you want to take into your parenting journey and what would you like to let go of? It is really useful to
Are there any aspects of your life that still cause emotional pain or feel unresolved? It’s worth addressing these before you have your baby either informally or with professional support.
What do you need to feel safe, emotionally calm and have your needs met? What are your needs? Perhaps your are an introvert who needs some time alone? how will you make sure that is ensured in what can be the relentlessness of life with a baby. Think about who you, what makes you feel good and how you will create small spaces internally and externally to meet your emotional needs where possible.
Speak to your health care providers and your birth partner about any aspects of birth you’re worried about. Maybe examinations, feeling out of control, how you’ll respond to the physical sensations, whatever it is, air it before birth.
Also check in to what you want to feel and ask them to remind you of your strengths and with any tools you’d like to use such as one of our courses 🙂
Advocating for yourself can sometimes feel tricky in birth, so if your birth partner knows your vulnerabilities they can advocate for you and a good way of getting information is to ask BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, What if we do Nothing)
It can be hard to imagine what we will be like as parents, which is totally natural but line up people who can support you through the changes, friends and family who will be happy to take a call when you need an ear and a place to just share.
If you don’t have a network, see if you can find someone via apps like Mush or MummyLinks or local groups which can be found through Hoop App. Other forums like Netmums, Mumsnet and Channel Mum also have lots of connections.
If you’re struggling emotionally with the adjustment and noticing your moods becoming unusually low for a prolonged period or time (or you’re supporting someone who you can see is) try a helping like PANDAS
Most of all, please know that the more you can talk, share and find support, the easier the transitions can feel.
Our emotional needs are affected by our environmental circumstances too. If we have stresses about housing, relationships, money or work this creates a background of stress and it can be hard to take care of any higher needs when these basic ones are flimsy.
Money makes the world go round, so they say… Reality is money and feeling secure about it is important so explore before and during parenthood, how will money will be earned, allocated and distributed? How do you feel about these arrangements? Are there are factors that need to be addressed and made more secure, especially during a time of reduced income, extra financial pressures and massive physical and emotional change.
Physical tasks like shopping, cleaning and childcare, who will do them and when? Will it be friends and family and do you feel 100% respected in these arrangements or will you pay someone for a more professional relationship.
However you are planning to birth it’s worth considering support physically for the early days, you and your partner may need it more than you initially expect and it’s easier to call on if you’ve already had the conversations.
Practical tools I’ve used & loved, that I hope you find useful too
Hypnosis relaxations, I loved the uplifting affirmations in pregnancy and also used them in new parenthood. You can use the Tranquil Birth of course but for specific ones I now use is Clementine App and highly recommend it!
The Nourish App is a comprehensive library of tools and techniques for motherhood.
Mindfulness techniques can be massively helpful in gently holding the full spectrum of emotions that these roles bring up for us. Ten of Zen is a great way to get 10 minute bite-sized ‘me time’ into your day and give yourself some inner space.
The physical shifts can also take their toll, changing bodies, carrying a baby, suddenly spending most your day in one room or one building. Suzy Reading has the most accessible approach to self-care, bite size moments of change through breath, movement and mantra that anyone can bring into their day. Her books are accessible and highly practical.
Talking about moving bodies I now love Restorative Yoga & Yoga Nidra, the kind where you lay down and deeply rest, a perfect way to reconnect with our bodies and give ourselves some space.
Books can also be massively useful and if you find there is just no time for reading, consider Audible, I’ve recently joined and LOVE it! A book that opened my eyes to compassion and connection to myself in motherhood was Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Nepthali. In fact I loved this book so much in those early years of adjusting I gave it to friends who had had babies. Over the last couple of years I’ve continued to work through the Supermum Myth by Anya Hayes, which is packed with techniques and enquiry.
And I’d love to hear your experiences if you use these conversation starters or share your own below…
Are there tools you love to use? I’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations!