You are preparing for your birth; reading all the articles, searching google, asking about homebirth, and hospitals and birth centers. Most likely, you have been shopping for baby stuff. Everything is falling into place, though you may still be a bit anxious, especially if this is your first baby. There are many unanswered questions.
I know how you are feeling. Before I had my first baby (Matthew), I had never been around newborns and was actually not interested in them at all. As a kid, I was climbing trees, playing softball, and running in the woods. Then I became a doula when Matthew was 2 years old. Crazy, huh?
Let me tell you, I was definitely nervous the first time around, for many reasons. Ironically, I was not concerned at all about labor and birth, but more about how I would care for a baby. Nobody really told me what to expect, or how to actually prepare for being a mother. On top of that, my now deceased ex-husband left me when I was 7 months pregnant.
That long story is actually a book. I will just say that I was extra nervous because I knew I would be a single mother, and it was not what I had planned for my life. Once I had Matthew, I surprised myself at how I was able to know what to do.
No matter what your situation is, planning is great, but so is knowing about certain universal truths about becoming a mother. Honestly, knowing about how you handle stress, and less sleep is important. Most of all, gathering and enrolling your support system.
The question is, “Can someone prepare for this transformational life event?”
There is no test, no class, no rule book, no one size fits all. Having a baby and becoming a mother will change you forever, no matter what.
Moreover, I believe you can do some preparation. Think of it this way. Many people create a birth plan, or what I like to call a birth vision. They do the research, talk to others; their partner, doula, midwife, obstetrician, mother, friend. Based on the information gathered, and personal preferences, a birth plan is created. Some flexibility is built in because there can be unexpected.
A Fourth Trimester Vision
You can also create a Fourth Trimester Vision. I use this as a guide when I am teaching other doulas or sharing with expectant parents what the first few weeks of parenthood can be like. These are just a few of the things I believe will support you.
- It is good to know that you will spend many hours feeding, rocking, diapering, bathing and playing with your baby.
- Good to know that sleep is the most precious commodity you will desire.
- It is good to know if you have any risk factors for a mood disorder (the most common complication of childbirth).
- It is good to know who your support system is and to line it up ahead of time.
- Good for you to express your wishes about what kind of support you want.
- Discuss your expectations with your partner, and learn about what they may be experiencing in anticipation of the baby coming.
The fourth trimester of birth is a major adjustment period for you and your baby. Babies have to learn everything, and so do you. When you take the time to prepare and to think about and discuss your expectations, your desires, and the reality of life with a newborn, not everything will come as a surprise.
For example, it is 10 p.m. and you haven’t gotten out of your pajamas. You know you have gotten out of the chair to eat and go to the bathroom, yet it feels like you have been breastfeeding all day!! Or you have just changed your baby’s diaper and his poop is all over the place. You spend the next ½ hour cleaning him up, you up, and the changing table.