Photo credit: Mallory Widrick
Many pregnant mamas confidently say they’re ready to be a mom. They may do everything in their power to organize and plan the nursery for the big arrival. They use every oil in the book to prevent stretch marks. They take every class and read up on all the recent research.
The thing is, mental, emotional, and physical preparation for motherhood is challenging.
Read below for some real-life-advice from some real-life-moms. They've been there. They've done it. And they want to help you through this next transition in life.
“Everything Will Change.”
Photo credit: Amy Amell
It’s cliché, but it’s true. Motherhood is an entirely new lifestyle and though some mentally prepare themselves for the change, it’s impossible to know everything about your newborn until you’ve officially spent time together.
“I remember being pregnant and organizing all of the clothes/diapers/etc. while one of my friends was over. She already had a baby and she said to me, “Oh, all of your organization will change anyway.” I was kind of like, Ha no way, everything is ready to go, I got this,” mother of two, Stacy Michaels explains. “The day we got home from the hospital, my mom was able to watch the babies while my husband and I got everything set up in our room and the babies room. Literally, everything changed. You can prepare all you want, but once the baby/babies are there - everything will change.”
Even through many ultrasounds and prenatal appointments, a new mother won’t know exactly what makes her newborn comfortable or cry from the start. She won’t know if her little one finds ease in a swing or if baby-wearing works until things are tried out.
“Everyone is Figuring it Out as They Go.”
Photo credit: Renee’ Saraceni
“I don’t think it’s possible to ever be fully prepared. Your life is flipped upside down. Some days are amazing and some days are hard,” says Chelsea Marie, mother of one.
Motherhood is a hectic, joyous, emotional game that never really ends. Every new transition and new age is different than the one before – not making it any harder or easier. Looking at those unique transitions as being different rather than hard or easy can make a huge different mentally.
“Try your best to ask for help when you need it,” Chelsea says. “Know that everyone is figuring it out as they go.”
“There Are so Many Unknowns.”
Photo credit: Jennifer Aline Graham
Every child is unique and parents won’t always know everything about their little one. This isn’t to say some parents do not have a connection with their child in-utero – many parents do. However, just like children, parents learn as they grow. They learn more about the personality and beliefs of their child as they guide them through each stage of life.
This is something that isn’t taught in prenatal classes; it’s something parents learn overtime.
“You may be ready but not fully prepared,” says mother of one, Jennifer Collins. “There are so many unknowns and each child is different and therefore, can’t account for such preparedness.”
“Reach Out for Support.”
Photo credit: Alicia Marie
Many moms are strong and wonderfully stubborn humans. This means asking for help doesn’t always come easy. Again, this isn’t the case for everyone, but when it comes to caring for that new baby, Moms want any and every chance to bond.
However, doing it all can be exhausting.
“You’re never really, fully prepared for how your life will change with a child,” Kristeena Titus, mother of two, explains. “Pretty much everything in your former life will change, sometimes in ways you never imagined. Enjoy the happy times and reach out for support in the tough times.”
“I Had to Learn to Take Care of Myself.”
Photo credit: Alison Gilmer
One of the most important pieces of motherhood is the one most new moms push aside: self-care. Mothers need to focus on themselves just as much as they need to care for their little one. To some new parents, this seems selfish. However, it’s crucial to the well-being of both the parent and the child.
“My heart and my home were ready, but I remember buckling her up to go home from the hospital and thinking ‘Oh my goodness, they are just going to send us home with a baby human with no instruction whatsoever,’” explains Michele Graham, mother of two.
Again, classes, support groups, and books can only help so much. When that little one is in your arms and in your home, your mind is somewhere else – somewhere brand new.
“After a moment of terror, instincts took over. But I was not prepared physically or emotionally for the demands of an infant,” Michele continues. “I didn't have help and the exhaustion was nothing I'd ever experienced. I had to learn to take care of myself in order to care for my babies.”
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, mama of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.
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