For the expecting mother...

Well, here you are… you’re pregnant.  Congratulations!  This may have come as a complete surprise, or may have been the miracle for which you’ve been praying for years.  No matter your attitude going into this, I promise a baby is always a blessing.  Just think about it… that little peanut growing inside you is going to become a functioning human being and has the potential to change the world.

No pressure.

Anyway, now that you’ve peed on the stick and that little plus sign has made your heart skip a beat or two, here are few tips from an amateur mama.

1)     Enjoy your pregnancy.  It truly is a magical time which you will cherish when you’re comforting that little screamer at 2AM.  Even if you are sick as a dog the whole time, hold onto the notion that your child is with you every moment of every day, hearing only your heart beat and you are literally his or her world.  Connect with your baby and talk to your baby, even if it feels stupid.  Your baby doesn’t know and doesn’t care.  Get your sleep now, eat that ice cream, pamper yourself, and enjoy this season of your life.

2)     Birth is hard.  It’s long.  You’re going to wish it would be over and you’re going to think you can’t get through it.  But it’s probably not the hardest thing you’ll ever do.  Women do it every single day.  They’ve been doing it for… uh... all of human existence.  If you have a tough attitude going in, it’ll make birth easier.  That’s not to say that incidents don’t come up, because they do—so be prepared for change.  Take a deep breath and have faith.  Faith in God's grace, faith in your baby, and faith in yourself to do what you were made to do.

3)     Breastfeeding is REALLY hard.  Personally, it was more mentally difficult for me than childbirth was.  Reach out, get support, and get through it.  Keep going.  When you think you can’t try any more, keep trying.  At the end of the day, it truly is better for baby and for you (I’ll have plenty more to come on the benefits of breastfeeding, but if you don’t believe me just Google it).  If you decide that you just can’t do it anymore, try pumping.  And if you can’t do that anymore, give your baby formula.  IT’S OKAY.  Baby just needs to eat.  A lot of productive members of society were formula fed; it’s not the end of the world.  Oh and don’t listen to the jerks who tell you otherwise.

4)     The first few months are extremely wearing.  There’s going to be a lot of screaming and crying.  And the baby might even get upset every now and then too.  The best you can do is take it day by day.  My favorite ways to get through the first few months were:

a.      Wine.

b.      Invest in a wrap—any kind.  I personally loved the Moby wrap, but anything that keeps baby close to you is one of the best investments you’ll make.  Baby just spent 40 weeks in your belly and this world is overwhelming (I’m still a little afraid of it myself).  There are ways to breastfeed in a wrap and you can generally keep your hands free for other tasks.  Just be prepared to do a lot of rocking back and forth and sushing baby in the wrap.  Overall, baby just wants to continue to feel your motions like he or she did during pregnancy.  According to baby, those were the good ol’ days!

c.      There’s something magical about holding baby, putting the bridge of your nose to your child’s forehead, and just enjoying your child’s presence.  I’ll admit it’s a little Lion King-esque but I can truly say it deepened my connection with my children every time.  Try it out if you’ve ever got the Baby Blues.

d.      Get a support system.  I've been lucky to have a rock-star husband, a lot of family nearby, and friends who knew the whole mommy routine.  If you don’t have those luxuries, go online and find someone nearby.  You need someone to talk to during this time and you need a break.  Have a friend come watch your baby while you shower or nap, and don’t be afraid to ask.  Don’t be afraid for something horrible to happen either.  Newborns are actually pretty easy.  Just wait for the ridiculous stuff to come after your kid is one year old, my friend... just wait.

In all seriousness, you’ve got this.  Don’t worry about being the perfect mother because I can guarantee you never will be.  If you’re doing your best, you’re giving it your all, and that’s all that matters.