Once you become a mother, life as you know it will never be the same again. Your tiny human becomes the priority, and, at times, it will feel as if your heart is running outside of your chest. Add to that; this living being becomes your responsibility for the rest of your life. Becoming a mom is a life-altering decision that you cannot take lightly. It is the most crucial role any human will ever play in another person’s life. Thus, you must genuinely assess if you are ready because there’s no turning back once you conceive.
If you feel that playing mom is a part of your life’s calling, you must make preparations to be the best one. As much as many would like to believe that females are automatically equipped with natural motherhood skills the moment the fetus enters the world, many mothers agree that most are completely unaware of how to be a mom. However, here are some things that you can do to prepare yourself for your journey to becoming a parent.
Assess Why You Want to Have a Child
How do you know if you are ready to start your motherhood journey? First, you may feel a sudden longing for a child of your own, especially when you’re financially prepared. Alternatively, you may also feel pressured because everyone around you has children. Others expect women to bear kids, forcing their maternal instincts to kick in. And if you decide not to procreate, people are quick to judge that something is fundamentally wrong with your being.
For starters, assess why you want to have a child in the first place. If you are truly excited to nurture and watch another human being grow, you are off to the right start. However, if you have a failing relationship and believe that this child can save it, you should pause and rethink your decision. Brining an innocent baby as a bandaid for an unstable situation is selfish and will not fix your relationship woes.
Similarly, if your family is pressuring you to have a baby because they’re excited to have grandkids, or if your friends just don’t want to stop reminding you about your biological clock, stop and evaluate your situation. Though it is true that your child-rearing years are not infinite, bringing a baby into this world when you’re not sure is detrimental for you and the child. Finally, ignore societal voices that dictate you must follow gender norms just because menopause is looming on the horizon.
Instead, feel free to follow your heart and make your own choice. If you think children are an unbearable burden, take a breather because this attests that you are not emotionally ready for such a big responsibility. Don’t succumb to external pressure so you won’t resent your child and live in regret. However, if you feel unequivocally sure that you want a baby, your heart is clearly in the right place.
Get Honest About any Deep-Seated Issues
Take time for introspection to assess if you have any severe issues or emotional baggage that you need to work through. It would help if you took time for this because you don’t want to pass problems on to your children inadvertently. The last thing you want is to project your issues and insecurities onto your kids because it will affect their growth and character development.
However, just because you have issues doesn’t mean you should no longer have kids. This just signifies that you need to take responsibility and get the help you need before conception. Personal issues that can impact your children’s life can range from abuse to insecurity. For example, if you had experienced physical, sexual, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse when you were young, it is highly likely that parenting will trigger your memories. Thus, it is vital to process these things with therapy and counselling so you can break the cycle of abuse.
After all, you want to shield your child and ensure he or she doesn’t go through what you went through. Seeking help provides you with coping tools that will allow you to raise your child in a safe and loving environment. Acknowledging that you have internal issues and seeking advice from a mental health professional allows you to heal and benefits your future offspring.
Besides, even if you think nothing is wrong, it will be a good idea to seek guidance before conceiving. A mother who is holistically healthy can provide the best environment for a child to grow up in.
Recognize Where Your Own Parents Succeeded and Failed
The first glimpse of motherhood comes from your own parents’ example. As you prepare to become a mom, assess your own parents’ strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can make a plan of action about your own parenting style. Your mom may have tried her best, but she is only human and may have been wrong about a long of things.
Since you are also human, acknowledge that you have frailties from the start. Therefore, it is essential to give yourself permission to learn from setbacks. As a new mom, it is impossible to get everything perfect. By being kind to yourself from the start, you forgo unrealistic expectations, ease undue pressure, and minimize stress.
Instead, remind yourself that you now have a chance not to repeat the same mistakes your parents made that really impacted your life as a child. Growing up with your parents unknowingly gives you a road map about what not to follow and what to improve. Prepare to mimic what made you happy and helped you grow to be a good person. In turn, you can do them for your child.
Conduct a Realistic Parenting Discussion With Your Partner
Once you have a child, prepare for your relationship to enter a new dimension. The first few weeks after your birth will feel like a blur, and the demands of a new baby will take their toll on you and your partner. Thus, you must have a parenting conversation with your partner before your new child enters the picture. Analyze and think critically about your decision. You need to figure out your expectations so you can be ready to make adjustments in your relationship.
Having a discussion about how you plan to parent before the actual birth can assuage fears and worries. For example, you can discuss the following:
- Will you be breastfeeding solely, or will you ask your partner to feed with the bottle?
- Do you intend to give up work to be a stay-at-home-mom?
- If you opt to work, who will provide childcare?
- Will you take turns with your partner waking up at night during the infancy stage?
- What kind of discipline do you intend to enforce in the future?
- Which values will you inculcate in your kids?
Talking about these details will help you and your partner gear up and prepare for the next stage in your life. Keep in mind; these talks are best-laid plans because it is impossible to make concrete decisions up until the baby comes. It is common for parents to adjust when the baby finally arrives. But the key here is keeping communication lines open so you and your partner are both aware that you’re doing the best you can as new parents. And that you’re in this together as one team.
Evaluate the Support and Resources at Your Disposal
They say it takes a village to raise a child. And indeed it does! If you have infinite resources, you can hire support staff and have access to unlimited options to help you with child-rearing from smart gadgets to daycare. However, if you’re just like most ordinary families, accept that you will need help from people because it is impossible to do everything alone, especially with a newborn.
Before you give birth, you must take a good look at your network to see who can act as your support system. For example, do you have parents or siblings nearby who can help you out after giving birth? Whether you give birth naturally or via C-section, you will face downtime because labour and delivery will take their toll on your body. Having someone around to help watch the baby so you can get a reprieve is a huge lifesaver.
Besides, you also have to look into the future because raising children is very expensive. Do you have enough funds for milk, diapers, shelter, vaccines, babysitter fees, etc.? You cannot leave these details to chance. On top of that, raising a kid entails more than buying essentials. You have to be physically present and allot time, a finite and non-renewable resource, to nurture your child.
Thus, you must ensure you are fully prepared about everything that comes with parenting a person throughout an entire lifetime. For some parents, this even includes planning as far as a college education, too because it is natural for parents to want to give their kids the best opportunities in life.
Talk About Family Planning With Your Partner
Giving birth is a serious matter because you also pass on family genes to your children. Once you know you want a child, talk to your healthcare provider. Sadly, pregnancy and childbirth are not easy for some women, especially those with pre-existing conditions like heart problems. They have to take life-saving medication because pregnancy can be a danger to the mom and the fetus.
For others, they have a family history of illness triggered by pregnancy like gestational diabetes or eclampsia. If these conditions run in your family, it is essential to discuss them with your doctor and partner. Some women also worry about passing genetic problems to their offspring like potentially life-threatening Huntington’s Disease or Cystic Fibrosis.
If a family history of diseases from both the mom and dad is a pressing concern, it is vital to take genetic counselling before conception. You may want to rule out being a carrier of specific gene mutations. For instance, taking a home DNA testing kit like CircleDNA can confirm if you are a carrier of a particular illness, along with the probability of you passing it onto your offspring. This is especially predictable if both you and the potential father get the CircleDNA test together, to find out genetic mutations you might be carrying, and to find out if you’re both carriers. It is vital to consider these things at the family planning stage to ascertain you give your child the best quality of life.