I admit I was so anxious about getting pregnant, at first. All the implications of giving birth and growing a tiny human can be overwhelming, especially if your are the over-planner perfectionist kind of person. And it’s only normal to ask yourself questions like:
Am I ready?
Will I be able to handle to pregnancy months?
Will my lifestyle change forever?
Will I be a good enough parent?
What should I expect when expecting a baby from my body and brain?
How about from my partner, work environment, family, friends?
Before i move forward to my 10 points list of learnings on becoming pregnant and expecting a baby, here are 3 fantastic pieces of media you might like to read, you perfection-seeking woman:
1. Let’s teach girls bravery and honesty, rather than perfection. An empowering TED speech for every girl and woman out there, by Reshma Saujani, founder of #GirlsWhoCode.
2. Perfect Madness: motherhood in the age of anxiety. A good read from Judith Warner that can help you see how to avoid becoming your own enemy in this road of pregancy and motherhood.
4. This light and warm #Motherly reading on „How to let go of perfection once and for all, mama” that works well for many aspects of our lives, in fact, as it speaks about honoring our values, worthinees and authenticity. And those are not just about pregnancy or motherhood, but about celebrating your personality and power.
No, straight to the point, here are the most important tips I can share with you after 8 months of pregnancy, that will hopefully help you clear up your mind and feel at ease with your decision:
1. Imagine yourself as a mom. Can you see yourself doing it? Holding a child, hugging him or her, reading them stories, changing their clothes, walking them through the park. It doesn’t really matter what age you imagine them to be at this point, just see if you can get this picture and how it makes you feel. If there is excitement to it and you can easily create it in your mind, you’re probably ready deep inside, even if there are millions of other questions or insecurities running through your head as well. If not, you need more time to figure out what you feel about the idea of motherhood and how ready you are or will ever be for the pregancy and motherhood experience.
2. Take time to understant the sources of your anxiety or uncertainty. Unfold it into specific pieces you can actually get a grip on. They might often be unfounded things or just general vibes, but they might also have to do with your own insecurities about yourself, your family history, your current relationship status, stress from work or other external inputs.
3. Make a specific aim out of relaxation, for a while (a long weekend at least, a two weeks holiday is best), to support your decision process. Stress, burnout, a very busy schedule, fighting, excessive dieting or workouts are not the best setups for a mindful and relaxed decision. Find timr for yourself and use it to unwind your mind and face your thoughts witb curiosity and calm. You’ll also need this training for actively choosing to give youself self-care time during the pregancy, so this is a great pilot.
4. Curate your readings and documentations really well. The internet, bookstores and apostores are full or articles and media. I’m not even going to get into the topic of forums and onlinr communities. If your are a perfectionist you’ll want to cover all the topics and see all points of view and that’s just simply not that healthy. Choose maximum 4 main sources of information and read articles only from credible, high-authority publishers, that are not strongly anchored into a specific pregnancy or motherhood theories unless you feel strongly connected to those as well (e.g. Lamaze, natural birth vs. C-section, giving birth in water, breast feeding, vaccines, etc). My useful tools wete these:
A. Books and audio-video: the famous What to expect when you’re expecting book, the fun and honest „Girlfriend’s guide to pregancy” audiobook i’ve listened to while driving, „The Guide to Healthy Pregnancy by the Mayo Clinic, National Geographic’s „In the womb” and the Netflix „Babies” documentaries, Pregancy Music from Relaxing Lullabies Youtube Channel and workout routines from BodyFit by Amy’s Youtube Channel.
B. Apps: the nice Ovia Health series of app – i’ve been using Ovia Fertility before I got pregnant and continued with Ovia Pregnancy and thier resources and tool is the app are quite nice! There’s also the Ovia Parenting App in their suite and I’ve already downloaded it. I’ve also sibscribed to the Elevit‘s and Huggies news and they turned out to be useful additions at times, too.
C. Products selection: Choosing the brands and products you’ll be using for your baby can be another trouble if you’re a perfectionist. There are 3 tips I could provide here that I hope will help you: 1) don’t start to early. The second part of your pregnancy is perfect for this and even the last trimester, when the nesting impulse will kick in stronger, is the best time to shop for baby products and the baby’s room/corner decorations. 2) don’t over do it. Be smart and curate your list of absolutely necessary items, first. You may start from online lists that are plenty but curate them well: you won’t be needing a million things and the basic needs cover these aspects: sleeping & transportation, hygene & clothing, feeding. Your baby will sleep, eat, poop and gradually get used to the world as we know it, in your arms, in the first three months, so an infinity of gadgets and 3) Quality and utility. Choose quality over quantity for the items that fit the possibility, but not luxury as many of the things you’ll buy now are going to be useless pretty soon. And research what are the most natural and comfortable choices from a baby’s development point of view, not cuteness. Everything will be tiny and cute anyway, so that’s a default 🙂
5. Set your expectations to prevent shock in front of the lack of control you’ll be facing during pregnancy months. You will get tired. You will puke. You will feel over-emotional. As soon as you have a list of all these possibilities and learn a bit about them from objective sources and experts, you’ll be able to face them with less shock. Most reliable sources for documenting these in advance, in my point of view, are: your GP, your obstetrician, a midwife or pregnancy coach, a well-documented pregnancy book or Youtube channel, your closest friends and family that have been pregant and given birth in the recent times.
6. Get tested. Your partner as well. Find and trust the experts. Planning is an essential part of being a perfectionist. So planning your preparations for becoming pregnant with the essential blood, fertility, HPV, semen tests, gives you the comfort of knowing how ready your bodies are for this next step and the chance to feel in control at least from the medical point of view. Further along the pregnancy, ask about genetic testing and see if you can take them, the progress and results in this area of health care are wonderful and so helpful. And ask to know the sec of your baby if you wish. Both of these results will give your certainty and go along well with your perfection-seeking and planning ahead urges and they will make you feel good. Of course, if you wish to keep the baby’s gender a surprise that’s absolutely fine too and can be a fantastic finding at birth. But rember it’s your choice and do whatever makes you feel safe and ready.
Turn to experts for the real, struggling questions: good doctors, therapists and coaches have plenty of documented experience to help you understand what you are going through and guide you towards making choices.
7. Stick to your usual schedule, as much as you feel you can do it without pshysical or emotional discomfort. Don’t struggle to suddenly change al your routines around the new or future baby bump: life should go on normally, and your future baby should get to know the feeling of your real life rythm. This way, you won’t feel you’re loosing control over your organised and so-well-scheduled life, but rather adding something new to it, and gradually making room for it. You will face people that tell you „stop doing this, now you are pregnant! exercice brings risk to pregnancy. Don’t eat like that, eat this in stead.” or you might have a work environment where there is 0 empathy for pregnancy. In both situations, this is the time where you should learn to stop caring about what others think it’s best. Plan your day with two ideas in mind: staying active and staying healthy. Do the best you can and listed to your body more. If anything, this is a time of your life when your awareness over all your anatomy and beauty can take a huge leap forward. More about this at point 9.
8. Let go a little, but not too much to hurt your personality and lifestyle. Keep being yourself. Keep going to the gym but tell your trainer right away about your pregnancy or download a light fitness & yoga app. Keep going out with friends and wearing those non-pregancy clothes for as much as they fit. Keep driving your car but be careful about your nausea, diziness or weakness moments and ask your partner to drive you or take an Uber or cab every single time you don’t feel like driving, it’s ansolutely fine! Don’t replace all your reading list with pregnancy and parenting literature, go on reading about the other things that interest you as well. If you like or need coffee, you may continue to drink it. Just adjust the levels of caffeine in a day, choose decat in less active days, experiment with lower coffee strenght. It also had benefits: for me, it’s rather like medicine, it helps me keep my low blood pressure in line. Be mondful of toxic things for your baby and make a list of the foods & drinks that are not safe like raw meats, alcohol or seafood and take time to understand why they are a risk. This will help you feel in control about your nutrition choices. More than this, understand that, just as everything in life, lifestyle during pregnancy should be about balance and mindful choices. Take this period as a time to gradually implement all of those good habits you have on your health resolutions list, with an even stronget motivation now. But don’t do it all at once, it might be overwhelming. Baby steps are perfect! 🙂
9. Monitor your body, your skin and learn to be more aware of your emotions. Measuring my body during pregnancy with a tailor’s centimeter and an advanced scale has been quite an interesting way to see how my body changes. I made a commitment of only doing it once per moth to see progress without getting obsessed over it and it worked quite well. Minding and fixing my bad eating habits has been a priority to me, but I didn’t starve myself or refused the little treats I ended up wishing for. This is not the time to do this. Just mind the quantities. a yummy sandwich and Cheesecake today, then pasta bolognesse tomorrow, instead of all of them today, at the same meal. Few bites of chocolate, not all of it. Maybe you have your own helth fixes to focus on, the main point here is to have a plan that evolved nicely and comfortably – over two, six, ten weeks. Take this time as a good habits setup, you have nine months ahead and this is plenty!
Your skin will also go through changes. From bubble baths to firmness and anti-strech marks lotions, try to use plenty of them and discover the joy of pampering yourself, at home. It might be an effort at first, if you don’t already have strong habits in this area, and it will seem like you need to spend too much time doing all of the extra-face and body care stuff. But i promise you, in two to three months, you’ll see results and learn to love it! It’s a good support for the physical-side of our perfectionism, too, as the normal changes of a pregnant body, like cellulite, extra pounds, the bump, will be balanced by the smooth, nice skin, hair, nails you’ll simply love. And loving your body is something you need to know how to do, in order to inspire this to your future child as well.
Last, but definitely not least, your perfect way of doing the dishes, the laundry, organising your tasks and presentations at work will be shaken by the unbelievable but real clumsiness and forgetfulness that surprisingly emerges during pregnancy. Ah, and by a lowered resistance to effort – both intelectual and physical. Look at all of these with patience, don’t be in denial and understand that they will go away: your brain is channeling a lot of energy into growing the new tiny life inside of your womb, and it’s still the one and only brain you have, so have some empathy 🙂 What you can do is double-plan for the things that are important for you and also, ask for help when needed, to make sure you don’t end up being frustrated about undone or poorly done things. Your friends, partner, family and colleagues are in your life because they care about you so this is a good time to let your guard down and be less perfect and more…well, human and curious about what’s happening in your life.
10. Enjoy the journey. Let yourself be amazed by the wonder of a human in the making, inside your body. The science of pregnancy is so complex and many things will evolve uniquely for you. So find the perfect way to enjoy them, that fits your lifestyle, your rythm and your desires. You’re still you and you’re going through a transfortmation that takes time, energy and faith. Faith that you can do it. And that you will be a good mom.
Good enough is much better than perfect, especially in the case of pregnancy, because it’s the real deal. Because perfection can set impossible standards, sometimes. And, duh, of course, because perfection does not truly exist. As best as you can today is simply great.