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Preparing for motherhood

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Is there really any way to truly prepare for motherhood?

There are so may self help books, guides for pregnancy, professional advice, classes to attend, programs to follow, and friends to ask.

But lets face it, when that first real contraction hits you, when you’re in the throws active labour, in the days following that c-section, when you experience that first night home from hospital and the weeks to follow, who’s reaction isn’t…

“I knew it was going to be tough, but seriously?!”

For all the planning in the world, nothing will truly prepare you. And that’s probably the best preparation you can do right there ~ prepare your mindset.

“Rigid plans work best if you’re building a skyscraper; with something as mysteriously human as giving birth, it’s best, both literally and figuratively, to keep your knees bent.” – Mark Sloan

Let go of the idea that you can “get it right”. There’s no getting it right in motherhood and to be honest, the moments that you actually do get it right will blur into the background of the moments where you feel like you’re out of your depth.

Motherhood is a journey.

The good times and the tough times both matter, they’re both lessons and memories being made. You’ll thank yourself for getting through the tough times or turn them into moments to laugh at, you’ll cherish the moments that were magical and turn them into gifts to share.

So, if you had the chance, what advice would you give to your pregnant self?

I asked my #soulsista Kate what advice she’d give her pregnant self and her instant response was – don’t do it! (followed by laughing emoji!)

Tell me that thought hasn’t crossed your mind… even for a split second.

She then followed this up seriously to say that it was tough as there are so many things she could say. But above all she would probably say –

“release all expectations and ask for help when you need it.”

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know what it is ingrained in all of us that makes us believe we have to do it all ourselves. That by asking or accepting help means we are somehow not the strong, independent women that we thought we were.

Well, that’s crap. Accepting help is not a sign that you’re not capable, it’s a sign of strength. It shows that you’re not too proud and you really care. It’s accepting that whilst you probably can do it all yourself, it’s much smarter to engage others so that you have the energy and reserves to give the best of yourself to your children. Trust me, if you get to two or three babes you’ll be screaming at the top of your lungs, “will someone just help me!”

When I reflect this question back on myself, what advice would I give to my pregnant self, I came up with my top 5:

  1. Educate yourself ~ be aware of your options, do your own research, follow your instincts and do what feels right for you. After all, it’s your journey.
  2. Take others advice with a grain of salt ~ the wisdom of others is great, but don’t feel obliged to follow anyone else’s path, make it your own. (Keep this in mind through the whole motherhood journey by the way!)
  3. Let go of expectation, guilt and be prepared to go with the flow ~ you can plan the perfect birth and hope for the perfect baby but life will rarely go as expected. Don’t feel pressured to follow a birth plan because you worry what others will think, make your preparations but do what feels right for you at the time. We all hope for that easeful transition into motherhood, but I can honestly tell you I think those cases are rare if they even exist at all. Instagram is a funny bar to set, trust me we’re all doing it tough in the real world. Ride the tough times, cherish the good times and share the funnies with your instamama friends 😉
  4. Take care of yourself ~ at times you need to be brutal with this one. If you don’t want a bombardment of family the second you get home from hospital, say so! Look after yourself during pregnancy and throughout motherhood, whatever stage you may be at. You don’t stop needing help once your child reaches a certain milestone either. It may get easier in some respects, but will definitely get harder in others. So be gentle on yourself.
  5. Enjoy it ~ this is the hardest advice to follow by far. The number of parents I’ve spoken to who comment that they just went through 4 weeks of no coughs, sniffles, or dramas and didn’t appreciate it until it was over. The other trap we fall into is allowing ourselves to expect the worst. Don’t worry about what’s to come, enjoy the moment that is. One day you’ll be dropping your teenager off at a party, reminiscing on the good ol’ days…at least that’s what my mum tells me 🙂

I recently spoke to a mama who’s advice to me was that the hardest thing about going from 2 to 3 kids was the mindset.  She said, with baby number one you are sure you can still do it all, and in many cases you can. With baby number two you still think you can pretty much manage anything and with a fair amount of effort you do. But baby number three is the point where you finally accept that you can’t in fact do everything and you learn to let go. Now, wouldn’t be easier if we just made this realisation at baby number one?!

So, above all, give yourself a break.

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Mamahood is a tough, magical, crazy, joyous, ridiculous, life-changing journey. It’s yours to battle, enjoy, share and own.

You got this mama!