I know when you are pregnant it can be really hard to think about and imagine life after the birth of your baby. Often the birth itself can present as a bit of a barrier with your mind being so preoccupied with how that will go and how your will manage, that it can be hard to think about anything else.
I remember very little about my own antenatal course which I attended at my local hospital in Glasgow. One of the things I do remember though was the midwife saying that the birth of your baby, important as that is, is so much shorter than the time you will have to devote to parenting that baby. She was absolutely right.
I am not meaning we should disregard birth and that it is not important, far from it. Birth is a defining moment in a mother's life, one that will be remembered for the rest of her life. I bet if you ask your grandma, she can remember details of the birth of your parents even if they are a bit hazy over time.
What I am saying is that it is common to spend 9 months preparing for the arrival of your baby with very little time given to what life will be like and how to make that easier once they are here.
How do you prepare for life with a newborn? It is all a bit abstract when you are pregnant and whilst you hear of the highs and lows from friends and family, that is their life and not yours.
Antenatally is the time to think about how you will manage both physically and mentally in those early months. Think about putting into place anything that will make your life easier whilst you still have the time and freedom to go about doing it. We cover this in greater depth during The Complete Birth Preparation Package.
There are only 24 hours in a day and once your baby is here, that doesn’t change. However, what you need to do in those 24 hours does change as your baby will have needs that have to be met. Alongside what your baby needs, you still have to find the time to walk the dog, cook dinner, put the bins out, grocery shopping, take a shower and so on. New parents tend to find that their priorities have to change in those early days.
Think about what you would be prepared to compromise on or if you and your partner have set tasks around the house, maybe these will need to change for a bit so discuss that now.
Did you know that if you have a caesarean birth, you may be advised to lift nothing heavier than your baby for up to 6 weeks and that driving may also be a no-no? How might that impact your life and what you can do? Will you have to ask for extra help and if so, is it worth putting feelers out now to see who might be able to support you.
A caesarean birth is major abdominal surgery and under any other circumstance after surgery like that you would take a couple of weeks off work and chill watching box-sets whilst you recover. Try to be kind to yourself.
Even if you have a straightforward labour and birth, your body has spent 9 months growing and nurturing another human and has undertaken an amazing physical task to birth them so you will need time to recover.
I really like this infographic from Mental Health Utah which is based upon interviews they conducted with parents before birth and 6 months afterwards.
If you know you have been talking to your partner about the topics in the left column, maybe start to think about those in the right.
Antenatally is also the time to think about anything that could make your life easier put them into place. Online grocery shopping is a good idea along with batch cooking before baby arrives. What about making sure you know where your nearest late night chemist is or making sure you know where to turn for breastfeeding support should you need it. Get those numbers stuck up on the fridge now!
Your own postnatal mental and physical wellbeing is crucial. Just as your baby will need time to adjust to their new environment (referred to as the 4th Trimester / Womb to World) you will need time to adjust too.
For more help and support why not join me and other expectant parents for 12 hours of interactive, evidence based and fun birth preparation in Livingston, West Lothian. Preparing you for the birth of your baby and early parenthood.
IN PERSON ANTENATAL COURSES
LIVINGSTON, WEST LOTHIAN
ONLINE ANTENATAL WORKSHOPS