Bringing a child into this world can be one of the most joyful times in your life. Regardless if you are carrying the child, it is a big moment filled with excitement, stress and anxiety. While you may feel more of the positive moments, as the realities of this new transition become apparent the overwhelming sense of change can bring about anxiety. This experience is normal. You are introducing the world to this precious yet fragile being that needs to be cared for 24/7. Knowing what to expect is one thing, but knowing how to manage all the emotions that come from it is another. Given all of this information, which I am sure you were already aware of, the importance of creating a plan in your pregnancy is something that can help you along your parenting journey. This plan can include whatever you feel necessary. From who you feel will be the best source of comfort to you during this time to what tools you can use on your own when you feel moments of doubt. We can work on the expectations that you have set for yourself as a parent and how we can reach those goals. We also want to make sure that your goals are achievable. Let's be real, we can try to do it all but we have to make priorities, especially now. Knowing your limits will be better suited for you in the long run.
So the dishes aren't "always" clean, as long as you feel
that you have done your job as parent then the day was successful.
Another important dialogue to have is the expectations of your partner. What do you need from them in order to feel that you are being supported during this time? What are your expectations of them as a parent? Are you guys on the same page when it comes to major parenting decisions? Knowing the facts now can make it easier in the long run, but truth be told, once the baby comes things can change. Again, that's ok and completely normal. Children are unexpected and spontaneous. So we adjust. But can you guys adjust together? Will you be able to tough it out on barely little sleep? Sometimes the answer to these questions is no, again completely normal. Being sleep deprived is no joke and it is hard to constantly adjust to things being thrown at you. But take the time to find ways to let your partner know when things are just too much. Find ways to communicate your feelings respectfully. Learn the tools now so you can put them to use later.
Something else to consider and to plan for is the role that your outside family plays. Family and other outside influences can be very helpful but at times can be very intrusive. Knowing when to ask for help and feeling comfortable enough to ask for it, is essential. Don't feel embarrassed or weird about asking for help, especially when offered. Getting the last bits of laundry done or a couple of prepared meals in the freezer by your mother in law may seem small, but in the long run can save you so much time. So if the help is being offered take it. But when you look at the flip-side, when "helpful" advice or comments are made that are not in tune with your wishes as a new parent, make sure to thank them for their input and let them know you will take it into consideration.
That doesn't mean you will ultimately do it, but giving them a polite response is better than the alternative response that you may be feeling.
For some new parents, these "helpful" hints can be very disheartening and can often times lower ones confidence as a good parent. But knowing that you have the means to take care and love your child as you see fit is all it takes. Being prepared with the tools learned in therapy can help you build yourself up, especially if you feel bombarded at times with too much from outside sources.
Therapy can also be a great source of letting go of any fears or uneasiness you may have of the road ahead. This can be especially true for any parent that may have experienced trauma in their lives. Knowing how to close that chapter and begin anew can really be refreshing as you enter into this next phase in your life. Leaving the past behind, or just the parts that hold you down, can really allow you to be open to this new experience. Which is beneficial not only for your new baby but for you as well.
During your pregnancy, you want to remain as stress-free and relaxed as possible. Mostly because you want to save all that energy for the long, sleepless nights ahead. The best way to ensure this is to make sure you are getting all the help you need, not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. It can set you up for great things as you begin your path as a new parent.
Written by: Jessica Jefferson, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist and Owner of Cloud Nine Therapeutic Services. My passion is working with couples who need assistance in navigating life's transitions such as: newly engaged couples, divorcing couples, and couples becoming new parents. I help them utilize strengths within themselves and their relationship to overcome challenges and find peace.