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In this post, I’m sharing my tips for how to best prepare for pregnancy mentally because we had a somewhat lengthy mental preparation phase. Quite honestly, we’ve been parents for less time than we spent mentally preparing! A combination of my husband being on a submarine and losing my dad affected our family-starting decisions. Conversations with a couple of friends really helped us out, so I hope that you can view this as a conversation with a friend. If you’re trying to decide whether or not you’re mentally ready to begin a family, I hope this post helps you.
Not to be TMI, but it took us over a year of mental preparation to finally feel ready to begin trying to conceive. We’d originally thought we’d be ready to start ttc shortly after my husband returned home from his second deployment. We knew the that we didn’t want to have a child while he was on sea tour (on the submarine), but that we did want to try for having a baby prior to his leaving active duty after shore tour. I know there are plenty of families who have babies on sea tour, but I truly don’t know how they do it!
My first piece of advice to you is don’t feel bad if you just aren’t ready yet.
Don’t feel bad if you thought you were ready, but then life circumstances change. People say that you’ll never truly be ready until you have to be. I think that’s somewhat correct, but you have to have some level of mental readiness. For some people, losing a parent might hasten their decision to go ahead and have children. For us, it had the opposite effect. My dad was the “soccer mom” of my family. He drove the mini van and my mom had the two door car! It took me a while to process my grief to a great enough extent to feel ready.
Whatever your reasons for not feeling quite ready just yet, don’t feel guilty. You may face nosy questions from friends, family members, or even just random people about when you’re having kids My mother-in-law sent us an anniversary card that said “I hope the family grows pronto!” I think questions about when you’re having children are incredibly rude. I’ve known so many people who’ve faced infertility and pregnancy loss. You just never know why someone doesn’t have children and if it may be a difficult topic for them. Consequently, I don’t think you are under any obligation to explain yourself at all if someone starts asking you about kids! Don’t feel bad and don’t feel obligated to go ahead and have kids just because your MIL has dropped her zillionth not so subtle hint.
Know the Facts
As people increasingly wait longer to have children, more people are concerned about the potential risks of being an “older” parent. I know several friends who were shocked when a doctor started talking about their “geriatric pregnancy!” Pregnancy after 35 is currently considered “geriatric,” a term we usually associate with people who are much older than that! If you’re concerned about your age, risks that may run in your family, or possible difficulties conceiving, seeking genetic counseling ahead of time can help put your mind at ease. birth. You might want to get genetic testing at the best fertility clinic, for example. You can minimize complications if you talk to professionals early, and get a full assessment before planning a pregnancy.
Improve Your Health
Focusing on my health and proper nutrition prior to trying to conceive was very important to me. My doctor advised me to take a prenatal vitamin for at least three months prior to starting ttc. Your health care provider may recommend a multivitamin, iron, folic acid, or other supplements based on your diet and needs. Make sure to ask! If you have an unhealthy habit, it might be time to break up with it and seek cessation services. Avoiding drinking and smoking, for example, is especially important for the health of your future child! Changing your diet to include less processed food and more whole foods can also help prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. Before ttc is also a great time to pick up an exercise habit, if you don’t already have one! As part of mental preparations for pregnancy, I read all the latest studies and literature I could find on exercise during pregnancy. You can read more about how beneficial staying active while pregnant is in my post about our gym maternity photo session.
Organize Your Life
Adding a new member to your family changes everything. I tried hard to get organized and plan ahead while pregnant. Honestly wish I’d started sooner and done more! Things like baby proofing that seem so far off suddenly need to be done before you know it! If you’re concerned about where you live and how a baby will fit, for example, you might want to consider moving to a new home. We played with the idea of moving, but ultimately decided not to because we knew we’d be leaving Hawaii just a year or so later. Start creating a plan on what you would like to get done before your baby arrives so you can avoid stressing out while pregnant. Luckily, I mostly avoided morning sickness, but I was absolutely exhausted during my first trimester and didn’t get much of anything (besides napping!) done.
Develop a Self Care Practice
You will need to make sure that you can take care of yourself before you start caring for your baby. My Hypnobabies tracks really helped me calm my mind and sleep better. I wish I’d purchased their “Peaceful sleep for all” track years ago! Working to improve your time management skills and developing a self care practice, such as meditation, can help you manage both your pregnancy and the stresses of having a baby. Even developing the habit of taking a couple deep, even breaths whenever you’re frustrated can work wonders! Finding self care practices that refresh you but fit into a busy schedule is very beneficial. When my baby was very young, all I could find time for was stretching while I brushed my teeth, but at least it was something!
Nurture Positive Thoughts
Your thoughts have an impact on your baby’s development in the womb, so consider using affirmations and focus on the positives. Learn how to control your thoughts and emotions and try to find coping mechanisms that help you deal with stress. I found that the Hypnobabies program worked wonders for me during pregnancy. I enjoyed listening to my positive pregnancy affirmations track every day. If you want to know more about Hypnobabies, please check out my birth story post! I also have a recent post on how to write positive affirmations that work.
Having a baby is a big commitment and not a decision to take lightly. Making sure to prepare yourself mentally and physically for pregnancy can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. I really hope these tips to best prepare for pregnancy mentally help you out! Do you have any additional tips? How did you prepare mentally for pregnancy?