Whether you are expecting, a new parent, or a veteran parent, welcoming a baby into your family or life can be a joyous but challenging time. As a nurse, I have been asked frequently about what my best advice is for parents, and I hate to say it but it is a bunch of cheesy tag lines. Hang with me though because they really are IMPORTANT. So here they are…
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy,” “Be Present Over Perfect,” and for the final one…. “Find Your Village of Support.”
To start off, I know it sounds silly, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy” but it really is. Whether you are comparing your new baby to your older children, or your kiddo to those of your friends. In today’s day and age of constant social media updates and status posts, it is easy to compare.
“My friends baby is a month younger than my kiddo and they are already crawling.
Tommy isn’t crawling yet, should I be worried? Is something wrong? Have I not done
enough? Not enough tummy time or engagement?”
It could lead to an endless cycle of spiraling thoughts that are fed by the mom guilt we all carry and the idea that we are not enough. Try your best to not let this consume your thinking. There is joy to be found in your baby’s firsts, even if they aren’t your first. Each baby has their own timeline for learning and development. Every child has their own temperament and personality. If you are truly concerned about any developmental delays, I suggest speaking with your healthcare provider and please know that it is nothing you did or did not do. Do not let comparison be the thief of your joy.
Comparison and mom guilt so easily leads me to my next tag line… “Be Present Over Perfect.” Again, our world is constantly inundated with photos of our friends and their family and the travels and activities that they may be doing with their family. Or…the noisy world of online shopping and ads has shaped your view on what you may “need” to buy or have in order to be a perfect prepared mother.
I hope I am not the first to tell you that all those photos are is a beautiful highlight reel. All of the the gear and trends is just “stuff”. You do not need it. Your baby does not need it. If it will make your life easier as a parent, then by all means go right ahead. But, please do not feel that you need anything. You are all that your baby needs. Well, you, a source of food be that breastmilk or formula, and a safe sleep environment.
Enjoy the moments. I know there are so many seasons of parenthood that are hard. Boy, do I know it. But when I remind myself to be present in the moment with my children, I find that those moments may be messy, moody, and hard, but they are some of the best and the times that my children will remember the most. Your kiddos don’t care that you are not perfect, they care that you are present and showing up and making the memories with them.
Ahhh and now for our final tagline… “Find Your Village of Support.” I am a firm believer that we were never meant to parent alone. We were meant to do this as a village. If you are pregnant, start now… create that village. There are 1,001 baby toys, gadgets, bassinets, cribs, bottles, and well just “stuff” in general. Often the actual thing that is needed, support, is overlooked.
The number one thing I recommend to new or expecting mamas is to “stack the bench.” Sorry, for the sports terminology. Create a “village of support.”
Start by preparing yourself and your body for what is to come, both with birth and the postpartum period. It can change your experience and overall outlook on parenthood. Take a birthing course, educate yourself about feeding your baby with a prenatal feeding class, make a birth plan, reach out and establish a plan for your support postpartum.
Have a plan to work with a lactation support person as you may need more support than what is offered while in the hospital, and that is okay! Plan ahead for meals or ask friends to set up a meal train instead of buying baby clothes. All these things are to help establish a plan to empower and support you during this time. Don’t get me wrong, all the baby gear you are told to register for is great, and some of that is super helpful but none of those things will truly offer you the support you may need in the postpartum period.
Speaking from experience, it is a lot easier to transition home with baby when you know that if any issues or concerns arise, you already have a plan in place with those who can help. This means you are spending less time worrying about finding the support and more time with baby. Have your “village of support” waiting or standing by to help you. This is huge. You do not need to “earn your keep” or “struggle badge of honor.” Some places or companies actually have a place or way that you can register for support on your baby registry. This can allow people to donate to that fund and know it will be put to good use. Becoming a mother or parent is a journey. There is a lot of transitions and “new” things that are going on. Having your “village of support” prepared and in your corner is the best thing you can do.
If you are wondering where to begin or are looking for support or advice, we Registered Nurses at The Mama Coach are more than happy to help in anyway possible and show you the support you need as our goal is to make parenthood easier. Find your local Mama Coach, say hi and as always YOU GOT THIS!