There are people who just adore children.
That wasn’t me. Still isn’t (full disclosure). That’s why I didn’t have many interactions with babies growing up.
Aside from the fact that my mum had us three in 3 years. So, I didn’t have to take care of my younger brother when he was a baby as I was a baby as well.
Before I got pregnant, I realized I knew little to nothing about pregnancy, babies, and birth. So, I got intentional about preparing for motherhood.
This was one of the BEST decisions I made.
I read books, blogs, watched Youtube videos, attended ante-natal classes, prayed, and did all I knew to do to prepare myself to be a mum. A good mum for that matter.
And to a large extent, I was prepared.
I knew what to pack in my hospital bag, what to expect during birth, and managed to remain calm even with complications during my first son’s birth.
Alas! Like they say you can never be 100% prepared for motherhood.
Life threw me a curveball in the form of tongue-tie and it’s negative effects on breastfeeding. I had never heard/read/seen anything about tongue-ties before.
So, here is my first disclaimer. Yes, preparing for motherhood is the way to go. But know that you will still make mistakes and that is okay. We all do. So, don’t be hard on yourself.
When you have your own baby, you will learn things you never read anywhere. That’s experience for you. It’s a teacher.
If you go into this motherhood journey without any preparations at all, you will be worse off.
Preparing for motherhood helps you to know what to expect during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. You become empowered to know your choices, to give your baby the life you dream of, and to decide what kind of mother you want to be.
Today, I’ve chosen to share the ways I prepared to be a mum, hoping that they’ll help you in your journey as well. I have also added tips I wish I knew now that I’m a mum of two.
But first, let’s tackle this important question…
When Should You Start to Prepare for Motherhood?
There is a saying that goes, “the best time to plant a tree was yesterday, the second-best time is now”.
The same can be said in this case. Of course, I don’t mean you should have started preparing for motherhood 20 years ago! Why not though? Haha!
But the principle here is what is relevant. The earlier you start to prepare for motherhood, the better.
There are some preparations that you can start to do before your baby is even conceived.
For instance, you can start preparing financially, spiritually, and mentally for motherhood before you get pregnant.
But let’s not jump the gun here. I’ll talk about these in detail later on…
However, if you are further along in your pregnancy, it’s NOT TOO LATE because NOW is the second-best time to begin preparing to become a mother.
Since, we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about why you are here in the first place…
How to Prepare for Motherhood Step by Step
STEP 1: FACE YOUR FEARS AND CONCERNS
#1 Realise that it’s normal to feel a degree of fear
Let’s be real here.
A lot is going to change in your body during pregnancy. The thought of that alone can be worrying!
Never mind wondering how you’ll cope with the pain of labour.
It’s a lot to contemplate and completely normal to be scared too (at least to an extent).
But when you find yourself getting really fearful, you need to…
#2 Figure out what you are afraid of and address it
What part of the process of having a baby gives you the most concern?
Is it the pregnancy, birth, postpartum healing, or the newborn phase or support with a baby?
Why are you afraid?
When do you get fearful?
Try to figure out what your main fear points are by asking yourself the questions above.
It might help to talk with your partner or a trusted friend. They can help you get to the root of the matter- the source of the fear.
#3 Educate yourself
For every concern you’ve had, educate yourself.
Read. Read. Read.
NHS Start4life is a great place to start. You can also subscribe to get the weekly newsletter on pregnancy, labour, birth, postpartum, and caring for your baby.
I also loved using Bounty’s app where you see how your baby is developing week by week. A bonus is that you get freebies and some discount on baby products on the app.
Also, ask your midwife, friends, and family, questions. Learn from their experiences and get insight from their words of advice.
Learn about every aspect of pregnancy as well including the postpartum period (commonly called the fourth trimester) and breastfeeding.
Many mums-to-be tend to focus more on the antenatal and neglect the postnatal phase which is equally if not more important.
Watch YouTube videos as well.
#4 Focus on positive and encouraging birth stories.
Try your best not to listen to your friends with the horror-birth stories.
They mean well but those stories do nothing to stop you from being fearful of birth. Rather, they make your fear worse and give you more things to worry about.
Focus on positive birth stories instead.
There are so many on Google and YouTube. Positive birth stories are really empowering and leave you feeling like you can do it!
What are positive birth stories? You are wondering…
A positive birth story is one where both mummy and baby are alive and well. It’s told in a way that let’s other mums feel and know that they can do this too! Positive birth stories are encouraging and empowering!
This doesn’t always mean that the birth was natural and or pain-free. There even could have been complications or a need for surgery. But in the end, mummy, and baby are alive, well, and happy.
#5 Use God’s Word to counter your fears
As a Christian, I’ve found God’s Word to be very powerful and effective in dealing with fear ( and all of life issues, really).
Quickly arresting fearful thoughts and rather meditating on God’s word is key to keeping your peace and letting go of worry.
God’s got you!
Find Bible verses about pregnancy, birth and babies that address every cause of worry that you have. 2 Tim 1:7.
This deserves a section of its own and i’ll talk more about this later on in Step 5.
MY STORY: I had a real fear of tearing/being cut during childbirth.
With my first, I had an episiotomy and I didn’t want a second one.
I discussed this with my midwife and she encouraged me to start perineal massages. Prior to this, I had never heard of perineal massages.
Finding out that I could do something to reduce the chances of tearing was so liberating for me.
I immediately got to work with the massages. Though I had a second-degree tear, it was tiny and healed up within 2 weeks.
STEP 2: WORK WITH YOUR PARTNER
#1 Acknowledge that a baby will change life as you know it.
Life will not be the same (but in a good way!)
You’ll now have a little human completely dependent on you for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Your baby is going to be a major factor in all your decision-making processes.
Realizing and embracing this early is key to maintaining a strain-free relationship.
#2 Cultivate your relationship.
This is the time to work on your relationship and strengthen it.
Doing fun things together before your baby arrives can help to strengthen your bond.
You can go on a vacation before your baby comes (babymoon). Plan a gender reveal party, host a baby shower, or have a maternity photoshoot.
Other fun things you can do while pregnant are
- Go to the movies,
- Take long walks.
- Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
- Play games.
- Let your partner do a labour simulation test and laugh your socks off at his reaction!
Have fun. Laugh together. Talk. Address issues.
Remember, it might take a while to get back into the usual grove of things after your baby is born. So, enjoy this time.
Cultivating your relationship will help it to withstand the pressure having a newborn can bring.
#3 Discuss money matters.
This is SUPER IMPORTANT.
Bringing a baby into the world will muck up some of your finances.
Also, when you go on maternity leave, your income will be reduced.
So, it’s wise to prepare for your baby financially.
Can you start saving exclusively for your baby? Will you consider establishing an emergency fund? What plans do you have to survive on (mostly) ONE salary?
Do you need to write a will now that a baby is coming into the picture?
All these are important questions to ask, discuss, and develop a plan of action for.
#4 Talk about the role he will play during labour and birth
This is an area a lot of couples leave out.
I’ve found that a lot of first-time dads are usually unsure of how to support their spouses during labour.
Should they rub your back or hold your hands?
They don’t know!
Take time to discuss with your spouse about how and when he can step in during your labour and delivery.
With our first son, my husband tried his best but he wasn’t sure how I wanted to be supported.
So, with our second, we discussed beforehand his role during our son’s birth. I told him specifics of how I needed to be comforted and when.
And guess what? He absolutely smashed it!
I’ve complied this list of 21 ways your birth partner can support you during childbirth. Consider it a cheat sheet for your partner. You can download it here.
#5 Discuss handling chores with a newborn.
With a newborn on your hands, the chores can remain unattended to.
While all your attention will naturally go to the new addition to the family, the home can only be messy for so long!
One day the dishes will have to be done.
Devising a practical plan to tackle chores in advance will be very helpful.
You can enlist the help of friends. Hire professional cleaners. And your partner can help out as well.
#6 Carry your partner along!
Getting your partner involved with planing for your baby will help him bond with your child.
It’s crucial to do things together with your partner so he feels like a part of your journey to parenthood.
Pick your baby’s name together. Go baby shopping together when possible. Ditto antenatal appointments.
Doing stuff together will help your partner to bond with his unborn baby.
Discuss your birth plan preferences with your partner.
This way he can be your advocate when you aren’t in a position to speak up for yourself while in labour.
Three main things to consider on your birth plan are the 3 Ps:
- People you want present in the birthing room
- Pain medication options and
- the Position you would like to push in.
Learn the quickest route to the hospital for you never know when baby is going to make her appearance.
STEP 3: PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR BABY AND BIRTH
#1 Prepare your body for growing your baby.
Once, you discover you are pregnant, it’s vital you begin to take antenatal vitamins immediately.
You may find that swallowing the vitamins tablets make you nauseous. An easy hack is to buy the liquid type instead.
Also, inform your Gp as soon as possible. That way you can fix your first midwife appointment sooner rather than later.
Eat healthy meals.
Don’t believe that myth about eating for two. Eat healthy and watch your weight gain. This will make it easier to lose the weight when you are ready to.
There’s a lot of controversery over the effectiveness of stretch mark creams.
I would say there’s no harm done if you give it a try.
If it prevents stretch marks for you, bravo! If it doesn’t, at least you tried something.
#2 Prepare your body for the birth of your baby.
Book and attend antenatal classes.
The NHS has some free ones but you need to book early to get in. There are some paid antenatal classes that you can pay for-NCT, Honest midwife.
Write out your birth plan but realise that your baby may not come the exact way you planned.
And that’s OKAY.
Remember, what we talked about earlier:
Happy mum + Happy baby = Positive birth story.
You need to remember that if your birth plan doesn’t go to plan.
Practise Perineal massages to reduce tearing during labour ( embed a video to show how that is done);
Get a birthing ball and practice using it to get your baby in the right position.
I learnt through hypnobirthing that our bodies are made for birth and that ( + the many techniques hypnobirthing teaches) helped me stay calm during the birth of both my sons.
Free hypnobirthing class here.
Pack your hospital bag ahead of your due date.
#3 Prepare your body for the postpartum period.
Prioritize buying your postpartum essentials ahead of time;
Read about baby blues and postnatal depression to recognize the signs early and seek help if you need to.
Postnatal depression is not something to be ashamed of. If you ask, you’ll be shocked at how many of your female friends went through it.
In short, it’s commoner than you think and there’s help available.
You will get the best support if you speak to your health visitor, midwife, or Gp about your symptoms.
#4 Prepare for breastfeeding + any possible issues.
This is an area that hits close to home.
I was massively underprepared for breastfeeding. Because both of my sons had tongue-ties, I really struggled.
I don’t want you to experience this type of trauma. That’s why I highly recommend that every first time mum read about breastfeeding, learn what a right latch looks like.
It’s normal for there to be an initial soreness as your nipples get used to breastfeeding but if you experience intense, persistent pain have your baby checked for a tongue or lip tie which might need to be snipped.
This is the most helpful video I found on getting the correct latch to avoid painful breastfeeding.
Also, read about cluster feeding.
Buy your postpartum essentials including breastfeeding products (breast pumps, nipple cream, nurse pads) before your baby arrives.
STEP 4: GET YOUR HOME READY FOR BABY AND POST-BIRTH
#1 Buy newborn essentials / baby gear.
This is an area a lot of first-time mums look forward to.
I know, I did.
The irony though, was that I didn’t know what a newborn needed. Of course, I knew they needed nappies and clothes.
But there are so many things I didn’t know a newborn needed. For instance, I had never heard of muslin squares or even knew what they were used for!
If you are not sure what to get, I thought of you when I wrote this post on newborn must-haves, It will help you get started.
#2 Set up your baby’s nursery.
Setting up your baby’s nursery is exciting. You get to bring your dreams into reality. It’s a fun time.
However, we know how small our UK houses are. Don’t feel pressured to have a whole room set up for your baby.
A small corner of your room is fine if you live in a small space. Basically, just a space for your newborn’s essentials.
Otherwise, go all out and make your baby’s room as dreamy as you want it to be!
#3 Clean as much as you can!
When the baby comes you won’t have the time to do much cleaning (at least not for the first few weeks).
Alternatively, if you can, hire professional cleaners to get the job done.
#4 Systemize your house to make things easier with a newborn.
There are several ways to get your home ready for your newborn baby.
You can prepare freezer meals ahead of time.
Realistically, this would mean doubling up dinner and freezing the rest for later ( about a month to your due date).
You would be too tired to batch cook meals all day when you are that close to having your baby. Doubling up is a smarter way to go about it.
Buy and use paper plates (to reduce washing up).
Keep important numbers handy on you and your partner’s phone – triage, midwives, consultant, family, and friends that have volunteered to help.
#6 Arrange for help and support in advance
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
If you have supportive family and friends around, lean on them and don’t be ashamed to.
We all need a little help every once in a while.
And there’s no better time than when you’ve just had your bundle of joy to lean on the gift of people that you have.
Also, consider help in terms of technology.
Now might be a good time to switch over to online grocery shopping.
STEP 5: COMMIT TO GOD THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF PREPARING TO BE A MUM.
#1 Pray often.
As a Christian, it was important for me to involve God throughout my pregnancy journey even to the birth of my sons.
One prayer guide I found helpful was this pray for your baby subscription.
Jen, the author, sends weekly prayers that correspond to how your baby is developing in your womb.
She covers areas I didn’t even think to pray about as a first-time mum. Prayers about cradle cap, skin conditions and more.
I’m so thankful I came across it early in my first pregnancy. It was really a great praying tool for my husband and I.
#2 Commit any lingering fears and concerns to God.
Sometimes, after you’ve addressed your fears (sought knowledge and help e.t.c), those fears can resurface especially when you get closer to your due date.
At these times, you have to trust God that He is faithful and good.
Knowing that He is not a man that He should lie. He will always keep His promises and He will help you.
Go to Him with your fears, cast your worries on Him. He can take it. He wants to help!
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.Hebrews 4:16
#3 Get peace, assurance, and wisdom from God’s Word.
God’s Word is so powerful.
It gives us wisdom when we need it, Peace for those worrying times and assurance that God is in control.
When I got worried about not having any physical support with my second son, God’s Word in Psalms 121:1 was such succour to me.
Make a habit of confessing God’s Word, over you, your partner, and your baby.
Trust that God is faithful in keeping His promises to you. And He will!
To recap, your preparation for motherhood should include:
Being mentally prepared for pregnancy, birth, and baby. A good place to start is by confronting your fears of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.
Maintaining a solid relationship with your spouse. It’s a joint effort after all.
Preparing for your baby physically. This usually involves becoming aware of changes going to take place in your body. and organizing your home before your baby arrives.
Prayers, confessing God’s Word and trusting Him to help you.
Create a baby preparations checklist to keep you on track so you don’t forget anything.
That’s it! If you got to the end, I commend you. It was a long read but I believe it’s been helpful as well. So, well worth your time!
Please leave me a comment with what point resonated the most with you! Or tell me what your best preparing for motherhood tips are?
I’m praying you have a safe and positive birth experience!