Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Are You Afraid Of?

I would wonder about you if you didn't admit to fears concerning your pregnancy. Is there a transition in life where you are more vulnerable? In fact, dreaming about catastrophic disasters is very common during your pregnancy, whether the dream relates to fears of childbirth itself, something happening to your partner, your house burning down, how this new phase will affect your partnership, work, friendships, finances and time management. It's okay; you are not alone.

Women worry about coping with the pain of childbirth, the possibilities of injury to self or baby, the necessity of a cesarean section. Sagging breasts, the likelihood of postpartum depression. Prepare for the birth, don't go into this experience without doing your homework. Work with a midwife or doula, if necessary, for reassurance and developing a relationship with your caregiver so you can openly discuss what is on your mind and how you feel.

It may be awhile before you hit your stride. The first three months are time consuming and not particularly gratifying. It may be a time when you are extra tired, feel overwhelmed and unable to manage the seemingly simplest things. Cleaning the house, preparing meals, talking to your partner and friends, fitting into your old jeans, having sex, getting your hair washed may all have to take a second seat to sneaking in a nap instead. Hopefully you have found support in your prenatal exercise class so you have a peer group going through the same experiences and emotions. If not, join a new moms group and compare notes; you're all in the same boat. And the boat will dock and managing will become easier.

You worry a lot about whether you are up to the task of mothering. Will you be a good mom? It seems that everyone has an opinion about how it is done, from your mom to the stranger in line at the ATM. Should you go back to work? Should you breastfeed until the baby is on solid foods? Are cloth diapers better for the environment than disposables? Ask for help and accept advice gracefully and then have the confidence to know that this is a long process that has plenty of room built in for mistakes. Remember, who's the baby going to tell?

Be patient with yourself about easing into this new and very different role. Nurture yourself with as much sleep as possible, good nutrition and fluids, finding support that you can trust and count on. I do believe that if "mama is happy, then everyone is happy." It is not selfish, but rather self-full to put your self first some of the time. It is also very smart to put your partner first sometimes too. That baby is supposed to grow up and leave your nest and there had better be someone left there to talk to.