By Alicia Peyrano
It’s confirmed, a little life is growing inside you. There are so many questions that arise around this time and being in the business of helping young families as they start out in life, I feel so privileged to watch as women become pregnant and babies are born. Families expand and life changes.
In no way am I a medical expert, and of course there are times when a doctor’s opinion and a mother’s intuition trumps everything, so please do get professional help if you have any questions about you and your baby’s health during pregnancy. I wish all you mums-to-be a healthy and happy journey, and I also want to acknowledge the strength and heart needed to overcome obstacles and sleepless nights, more mum power to you!
1. Get Informed
Sign up immediately and marvel at the miracle of life with free e-newsletters from WhatToExpect.com. Every week they’ll send you a breakdown of how your baby is developing. Want to know when the baby is the size of a pea and when its little hands form? – The highlight of my pregnancy. Then when your baby is born they continue with a child’s development and it is fascinating. I promise.
2. Stay Positive
It’s very easy to be overwhelmed and people love to share their war wounds. “My delivery room looked like a battlefield”, someone told me. Great. But as my mother always said to me, “Stay Positive”. You can believe the worst is going to happen, or you can believe all will go well. It’s a choice and it makes next to no difference to the true outcome. The framing of this positive attitude should start while you are pregnant, because it will be essential when baby is born. Repeat after me, the baby will sleep better tonight. And if you can say it in a way that you believe it, then according to the rules of the Law of Attraction the universe will return what you put out. Research has also been done on this and studies demonstrate that babies pick up on vibes from their mum, so if you are relaxed, it is likely they will be too.
3. Simplify What You Need
Ask any mother whose baby came early and they didn’t have their hospital bag packed and their labour plan wasn’t written down. Well guess what? Everything turned out okay. Babies come, as they say in Spanish, “con un pan bajo el brazo” that means with a baguette under their arm. The idea is that you will be able to look after them, you will always find a way. And the good news is that if they take to breastfeeding, it’s free food and you don’t have to carry any supplies! If you have problems with latching on, or your milk doesn’t come in and you want to persevere, there are wonderful organisations out there with amazing help for new mums. I highly recommend La Leche League, a breastfeeding support network. Try and make your life easy. Babies need love, food and shelter but other than that they’re quite resilient little things.
Go on take a selfie, take 17! Your body is going through extraordinary changes, you won’t believe the elasticity. Beautiful bumps and all their stages deserve to be photographed. Enjoy watching and noticing the cravings, pains and changes. Believe me when I say they are short lived.
5. Remember You
It’s not easy, your identity will have all kind of existential crisis. But the best way to do this is to give everything to your baby, all the love and the best listening skills you have ever mustered while you are with them. This means you HAVE to take time to yourself. Don’t forget you are a living, breathing beautiful being, not just because you are a mum, but also because you have a great sense of humour, you love getting your nails done, and dancing… When you take time to yourself, there shouldn’t be any guilt because you know your child is loved. There is a bonus in being a mum who remembers herself, you also give your baby a chance to relate with others, whether it’s carers, grandparents, babysitters… it’s a chance for the baby to get acquainted with the world.
6. Make Space for Partners
Men or partners won’t be going through exactly the same thing, but really it’s up to you to make space. Encourage them to be a part of the journey and give them lots of room to be present, have a role and make mistakes. You will be grateful, when you need some me time and they can take over. The only way they’ll learn is if they are left to their own devices. Best thing that ever happened in my family is that I had to work on Saturdays. At first my husband would ask me, ‘What should I do?’ Then, after a dozen or so Saturdays I asked him, ‘What are you guys up to today? He said, “I’m not sure we’ll see’. That’s when I knew he had learned to love the role of looking after someone.
7. Dress For The Occasion
Embrace the bump, get comfy and stay stylish. A few good pregnancy outfits go a long way to sustaining self-love even as you um… balloon out. I can’t recommend the Hatch collection enough. Chic and gorgeous, I love their style so much that I even shop there when I am not pregnant. The maternity section at Topshop is also ace. Don’t overdo it though. You just need two or three dresses or tops along with a couple of leggings and don’t be afraid to wear the same outfit often. Such a sign of female strength.
8. Join Forces And Make Friends
Even before you come out of hospital with your baby, you’ll notice people looking at you. The weird thing is there is an intimacy in the look, it’s called solidarity. They have been there. Suddenly you are a part of a secret members’ club that knows what it is to feel explosive love and be exacerbated all at the same time. Embrace this new stage. People will be friendlier, weirdly everyone loves babies (even the grumpy clerk at the post office I found out). I always recommend taking part in classes, from antenatal to pregnancy yoga. And when baby is born do go to parents and tot mornings. No matter how tired you are, take you and your new bundle down there and enjoy a cup of tea and some new mum banter. It is invaluable.
9. Remember Everyone Does It Differently
One of my favourite things about being pregnant and becoming a mum was noticing how one thing that is a dead cert in the UK, is a big no-no in France or Mexico for example. While in the US they recommend weaning babies with pureed vegetables, in Portugal they start with pureed fish. This means there are many right ways to raise a family.
Remember you are lucky to bring another life into this world. There are few things as beautiful as watching your baby grow. There will be moments that seem exhausting, impossible and frustrating. I missed reading, exercise and movies soooo much. Mummy brain is real. That they grow quickly is a cliché for good reason. Before you know it, this stage will be over so try and be present and enjoy it. Celebrate these little rockets of life.